Ruthe Wheeler.

Jane, Stewardess of the Air Lines

A shaded light in the bulkhead ahead revealed two dials, one marked air speed and the other altitude. A door led forward to the baggage and pilots compartment while a door at the rear opened onto a tiny pantry and a lavatory.

Jane counted the seats. There was room for fourteen in the cabin and counting themselves, twelve passengers were now aboard.

Chairs eight and nine were almost at the rear of the cabin and Jane and Sue settled into the seats. The night manager handed them each a small, sealed envelope.

Heres your traveling packet of gum and cotton. Better put the cotton in your ears. The noise is a little bad the first few minutes. If you think the altitude will affect your ears, chew gum while youre going up. Will you want a blanket so you can sleep?

I should say not, replied Sue. Im going to see everything there is to see.

The pilots re-entered the plane and walked up the aisle to disappear through the forward door. The cabin door was closed and made fast and the three motors came to life with a thundering roar. The big ship vibrated strongly as one motor after the other was tested until the chief pilot was sure they were ready for the four-hour flight to Chicago.

The huge biplane moved slowly as the pilot taxied it out of the hangar. Then the tail was flipped around and the plane headed down the long runway.

The night was shattered with the powerful beat of the engines and blue tongues of flame licked around the exhausts of the wing motors.

Sue, who was next to the window, reached over and gripped Janes hand. Both girls had stuffed cotton in their ears and both were chewing energetically on the gum.

With rapidly increasing speed the plane rolled down the smooth runway. The ground flashed by at an amazing speed and before either Jane or Sue realized it, the transport was winging its way over the edge of the field.

The flood light below came on, outlining the entire airport with its penetrating brilliance. The pilot banked the great biplane gently and headed away into the east.

The roar of the motors filled the cabin but, by leaning close, Jane and Sue were able to talk.

Scared? asked Jane.

Not now, but my heart was in my mouth when we started. How about you?

I guess I felt the same way, but now it seems as though flying was the most ordinary thing in the world.

The lights of University City faded and the transport bored east into the night. Jane watched the dials on the bulkhead. The indicator for air speed pointed to 110 miles an hour while the altimeter showed they were now 1,200 feet above ground.

In a pocket at the rear of the chair ahead was a folding map which showed the route of Federated Airways from Chicago to the west coast and Jane and Sue scanned this with intense interest. Each city and emergency landing field was marked, with a brief description printed on the map.

Chapter Four
An Emergency Case

Dawn came as the tri-motor sped over the level farm lands of Iowa.

Passengers who had been dozing roused themselves to watch the sun shoot over the horizon.

The night mists were dispelled and the fresh greenness of the corn belt in spring was unfolded below them. Wisps of smoke rose from the chimneys of farmhouses as breakfast was prepared and Jane and Sue, looking down, saw farmers about their chores in the farmyards.

There was a brief pause at Bellevue for refueling and then the big ship sped away on the last leg of the flight to Chicago. In another hour and a half Jane and Sue would be in the Windy City.

An elderly man two seats ahead and on the aisle had caught Janes attention and she watched him closely. His face was pale and he appeared slightly ill. Perhaps the motion of the plane was unsettling, she thought. The flight would be over in a short time.

Janes attention went back to the panorama below and for several minutes she paid no attention to the man ahead. When she looked at him again, she felt genuine alarm and she leaned close to Sue to speak.

Unless Im badly mistaken, the man two seats ahead is mighty sick.

Sue looked ahead and her eyes widened.

Hes pale as a ghost. Cant we do something? Jane nodded and rose from her chair. It wasnt any of her business, really, but there might be something she could do. She stepped forward and leaned down.

You look ill, she said. Im a trained nurse. Is there anything I can do?

The stricken man managed to smile and his eyes spoke his thanks. Jane bent low so he could speak directly into her ear.

Appendicitis, I fear. Ive had it before, but never an attack as severe as this. How long before well be in Chicago?

Not long, replied Jane. Ill see if I cant find something to make you more comfortable.

Jane hastened back to Sue.

Its appendicitis, she said. Lets see if we can find anything in the pantry to make into a compress or fix up an ice bottle. That may help check the inflammation until we get to Chicago.

While the other passengers looked on a little startled, the girls went back to the pantry.

Heres a bottle of cold water, said Sue.

Ive found some towels. Well make some cold compresses.

Some one tapped her on the shoulder just then and she turned around to look into the stern face of the co-pilot.

Passengers are not allowed here, he said. Youll have to go back to your seats.

Sue started to make a sharp reply, but Jane silenced her.

The man in No. 4 is suffering from an attack of appendicitis, she explained. Were trained nurses and thought we might find something here we could use to relieve the pain until we get to Chicago.

The grim expression on the co-pilots face vanished.

Why didnt you say so?

You didnt give us a chance, retorted Sue.

Do you think his condition is serious? the flyer asked Jane.

Hes pretty sick right now and hes not a young man by any means. If you can send word ahead some way to have an ambulance waiting at the field, that will help.

Ill get a radio off at once. Is there anything I can do?

No, well do everything possible, Jane told him.

The other passengers seem to be a little alarmed, said Sue. Im going to tell them just whats up.

Good idea. Ill have the compresses ready when you come back.

Sue went along the cabin and stopped to tell each passenger just what was the matter with the elderly man in No. 4. Everyone was sympathetic, but there was nothing they could do to help.

The girls made the stricken man as comfortable as possible and changed the cold packs frequently. It seemed to Jane as though the engines were droning along at a higher pitch and a glance at the air-speed indicator revealed that they were traveling 135 miles an hour.

They passed over Aurora and Jane knew they would soon be in Chicago. The co-pilot came back.

Hows he getting along? he asked Jane.

Hes much more comfortable. Did you get a message through?

An ambulance is waiting at the field right now. Gosh, but Im glad you girls were along. You ought to apply for jobs with the company. Theyre going to put on a bunch of girls as stewardesses.

Thats just exactly why were on this plane.

Then this bit of first aid wont hurt you in getting a job, grinned the co-pilot.

He ducked back into the forward compartment and a few minutes later the plane swung over the municipal airport, Chicago headquarters of the Federated Airways.

Word had been flashed around the field that the incoming plane was bringing in a sick man, and the ship was given the right of way over all other planes.

Jane and Sue were too much interested in their patient to feel the slightest discomfort as the plane landed and rolled along the concrete ramp.

Sue hurried the other passengers out and an ambulance backed up to the plane.

Im deeply grateful, whispered their patient, as he was lifted from the plane to the ambulance.

A white-garbed interne waved to the driver and with its siren clearing a path, the ambulance sped away.

Jane smiled at her companion.

I wonder who he was? I forgot to ask his name.

I was too busy to think about that, confessed Sue. Perhaps well see him again if we are fortunate enough to secure positions on the air line.

The chief pilot of their plane paused beside them.

That was fine, level-headed work, he said. You girls did exactly the right thing. Im mighty glad the line is going to add a trained nurse as stewardess on all of the passenger runs. The co-pilot said you were going to apply.

We hope to see Mr. Speidel, the personnel director, today, said Jane.

The chief pilot glanced at his wrist watch.

Its just seven-thirty. Mr. Speidel wont be here for another hour. Tell you what. Lets have breakfast together here at the field and then Ill see that you have an interview with Mr. Speidel as soon as he reaches the field. Believe me, Im grateful for what you girls did on the flight in.

Jane hesitated a second, but Sue accepted enthusiastically.

Thats fine. Ive got to see that the ship is berthed properly. Ill meet you in the waiting room.

The lanky flyer hurried away and Jane and Sue went into the waiting room.

Do you think we ought to have accepted the invitation? asked Jane.

Yes. If we get on as stewardesses, well have to know all of the pilots fairly well. Besides, think what a free breakfast means to our slender purses.

Jane smiled. You would think of that.

A few minutes later the pilot of their ship rejoined them.

Say, I forgot to introduce myself, he chuckled. Im Charlie Fischer.

And Im Jane Cameron and my friend is Sue Hawley.

Now that everythings in order and we know whos who, lets eat.

The flyer led the way into the modernistic restaurant which adjoined the waiting room and they sat down at gleaming black and silver tables.

The skys the limit, advised their new friend and Jane and Sue added bacon to their usual breakfast of toast and fruit.

Do you know very much about the plans for using stewardesses? asked Jane.

Only the talk thats heard along the system. With passenger traffic getting heavier all of the time, some step must be taken to have a member of the crew in the cabin where the needs of the passengers can be looked after. I think selecting trained nurses is a mighty good idea.

Have any girls been hired? Sue wanted to know.

Not yet. I think today is the first on which Mr. Speidel is to have interviews with candidates.

Is he nice? persisted Sue.

Hes not half bad and Im certainly going to give both of you the best possible recommendation. Have either of you flown much before?

This was our first trip, said Jane.

Charlie Fischer whistled softly. Well, you certainly are a cool pair. I hope youre assigned to my crew.

They finished breakfast and the chief pilot walked with them to the near-by administration building.

The field was roaring with activity. Planes were at the ramp being loaded with mail and express, ready for swift dashes to almost every point of the compass. Passengers were saying hasty farewells to friends, and porters, laden with baggage, hurried from taxis to the planes. It was a fascinating picture and Jane knew that she would thoroughly enjoy being a part of it.

Chapter Five
With Flying Colors

Charlie Fischer took Jane and Sue up to the second floor of the administration building. They entered a broad hall with chairs ranged along each wall and in every chair was a girl.

Janes heart sank for she knew instantly that every one of them was there to apply for the position of stewardess. Sue looked at her and somehow managed a brave smile.

Theres going to be plenty of competition, she whispered.

Charlie Fischer glanced at the double row of girls waiting to be called into the office of the personnel director.

Wait here, he told Jane and Sue. Ill see if we cant manage to slip through ahead of the rest.

Jane and Sue sat down in the last two chairs along the hall and Jane looked at their competitors. The girls were all about her own age, most of them very attractive to look upon. They were trim and capable and had the calm bearing which their training had instilled.

A secretary came down the hall, taking the names and addresses of each girl. Finally she reached Jane and Sue and they gave their names.

What is your Chicago address? she asked.

We just arrived, explained Jane, and hope to see Mr. Speidel this morning.

Im afraid you wont be able to see him today. There are all those girls ahead of you, the secretary advised.

Janes spirits ebbed but she went on determinedly.

I have a letter here from the supervisor of nurses at Good Samaritan hospital at University City, she said. Mr. Speidel wrote to her asking that she recommend several girls for this work.

Yes, I know. Mr. Speidel wrote to a number of supervisors. Almost every girl here has her recommendation from a supervisor, but Im afraid youll have to wait your turn.

The secretary returned to her desk at the head of the hall and several minutes later the first two girls at the head of the line were called into the office of the personnel director.

Looks like our flying friend has forgotten all about us, said Sue when half an hour had elapsed and there was no sign of Charlie Fischer.

Jane nodded a bit dismally.

Slowly the girls were called into the office and Jane knew that there was little chance she and Sue would have an interview that day.

It was nearly an hour later when Charlie Fischer reappeared and instead of coming out of the personnel directors office, he came up the stairs which led to the ramp. In his hand was a typed report.

Think Id forgotten all about you?

We had almost given up hope, conceded Jane.

I had quite an argument with Mr. Speidel about seeing you girls out of turn. Hes a stickler for detail and fair play and is afraid that if you are taken in ahead of the others they may feel he is playing favorites.

Jane nodded. She could understand that and she didnt want to start work, if they secured the positions, under a handicap of resentment by the other girls.

I didnt argue long enough to make him mad, said the flyer, but skipped out the back way and went down to get a complete report on our flight in. I also checked the hospital to find out about your patient. Hes getting along fine, thanks to the emergency treatment you were able to give him. Now Im going to hand these reports in and well see what happens.

The lanky flyer hurried down the hall and went into the personnel directors office. In less than five minutes he opened the door and beckoned for Jane and Sue to join him.

The young nurses smoothed their dresses and gave their hair a final pat as they hurried down the hall.

The office of the personnel director was large and, like the entire administration building of Federated Airways, was furnished in a modernistic style. One whole wall was of glass, giving a wonderful view of the entire field.

The personnel director looked up from the typed report he had been scanning. He was short and stocky, with dark, close-cropped hair and a heavy face, but his eyes were pleasant and he greeted them warmly.

Ive just finished reading the complete report of the fine piece of work you did coming in on trip No. 6 this morning. Charlie tells me neither of you had flown before.

It was our first trip, admitted Jane.

Then I must say you were remarkably cool-headed under the circumstances. Do you have a letter from your supervisor?

Jane handed him the envelope from Miss Hardy and he read the letter of commendation thoroughly.

Your supervisor thinks rather highly of you, smiled Mr. Speidel when he finished. Do you really think youd like flying?

He shot the question at them unexpectedly.

Theres danger, theres a lot of responsibility, and theres a great deal of work at times, he went on. You may be trapped in almost any kind of weather rain, snow, hail, sleet, fog. You must be calm and resourceful and courageous. We demand a great deal of loyalty.

Weve thought the whole thing over, said Sue, and decided wed like the work. Now, after the trip in from University City, we are certain we are making no mistake.

How about you, Miss Cameron?

I am sure I would like it, said Jane.

Very well. Well put you down on the tentatively accepted list. Final acceptance will depend on your ability to qualify under our physical requirements. Youll find the office of Dr. Emma Perkins at the other end of the hall. Give her this card and shell put you through the routine. If you pass, return here at three oclock. When they emerged from the office of the personnel director, a little breathless and flushed, it was nearly lunch time.

Id like to treat you to lunch, said Charlie Fischer, but Ive got to get down town.

Thanks a lot for all youve done, said Jane. Well do our best to pass the rest of the examinations.

Youll come out all right, prophesied their new friend.

Jane and Sue went down to the restaurant on the main floor where they ate a leisurely lunch. Outside planes were landing and taking off and a constant crowd swirled along the ramp and through the waiting room.

Already the tempo of the whole thing had gotten deep into their blood.

Ill be terribly disappointed if we dont pass the physical tests, confessed Sue.

Dont worry about that. Were in perfect health.

At one oclock they reported at the office of Dr. Perkins and were taken into the examination room at once. Doctor Perkins, small and business-like, put them through the regular routine.

Humph, she said as she checked the results. If all girls were as healthy as you two, there would be little for doctors to do.

Then you mean weve passed all right? asked Sue anxiously.

Your physical report will be 96 per cent, which is unusually high. Take your cards back to Mr. Speidels office.

When Sue and Jane returned to the other end of the hall the line of girls had thinned. They presented their health cards to the secretary and were admitted almost at once to the office.

It looks like Im about to sign two more stewardesses, he smiled as he took their cards. His eyes widened as he read the final report. Why, this is rather remarkable. Doctor Perkins is pretty much of a stickler for detail. A 96 mark from her is about 99 from any other examiner.

The personnel officer took two blanks from a pile at one corner of his desk.

Now well get down to the serious business of enrolling you for the stewardess service, he said.

You mean weve really got the jobs? asked Jane.

You certainly have. Your pay starts today with a salary of $125 a month and uniforms furnished by the system. Does that sound attractive?

Its more than attractive, smiled Sue.

In less than ten minutes they were formally enrolled as members of the Federated Airways stewardess service.

Weve signed a dozen girls, including you two, and are sending them all west to Cheyenne tonight aboard a special plane. Uniforms are being made here. Take a company taxi and go to the Barclay Tailors on North Michigan Avenue. They are outfitting all of the girls. Be back at the field at five oclock. Miss Comstock, who is chief of the stewardess service, will be here. Report to her at this office.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speidel, said Jane.

Well do our best, promised Sue.

They were in a cab and speeding toward the loop before they relaxed, for the strain of the last few hours had been terrific for both girls.

Sues eyes filled with tears and Jane felt her own throat choke up. With their funds so low, securing the positions with the Federated Airways had been essential and now that it was no longer a dream, it was hard to believe.

Would you mind pinching me to see if I am awake? said Sue, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.

Were awake all right, said Jane as the cab struck a bad bump and threw them to the ceiling. The meter was clicking up an astonishing taxi bill and Sue stared at it questioningly.

Maybe wed better get out and take a street car down town, she suggested.

Dont be silly. This is a Federated Airways cab. It wont cost us a cent and the driver will come around and take us back to the field when were ready.

How do you know? Sue asked suspiciously.

Because I took the time and had the good sense to inquire at the ticket office. When I told them we were new stewardesses they gave me a card entitling us to round-trip transportation to the loop in a company cab.

I didnt see you do that, protested Sue.

No, you were too busy watching the plane coming in from the west.

At the tailors they were measured for trim serge suits of a smoke-green. Berets of the same material and color were furnished.

The fitting required an hour and the tailors promised to have the suits in Cheyenne within the week.

What do you think of the uniforms? Jane asked as they left the tailors.

I love them. Theyre so trim and business-like, yet feminine at the same time. What a contrast to a nurses uniform.

Jane was willing to admit that the neat, serge suits would be much more comfortable than the primly starched outfits they had been accustomed to wearing.

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