Sunday, 11 November 2012

"Air Girls"

From April 1st, 1931 Tokyo Koku Yuso (Tokyo Air Transport) started a fixed flight from Tokyo to Shimizu. The aircraft used was the single Aichi AB-1 Transport, registered J-BAKL, fitted as a flotaplane. Although the aircraft was too small, had no aisle and could carry only four passengers it was thought that if one or two smiling young girls were on-board it would encourage passengers and make them feel safer.
For the role of the very first Japanese flight attendants, a completely new job for women at the time, three young girls were to be chosen. The first audition was on February 5th, 1931 at the "Hato Noma" (see previous post). 141 girls showed up and after passing a first test, ten were chosen as finalists. The second audition was a month later at the seaplane hangar of Nakajima at Suzugamori Kaigan (beach), Oimachi, Tokyo. The three lucky girls that were finally picked up were  Motoyama Eiko of Ferris Jogakuin (a Catholic Girl's Highschool that still exists in Yokohama), Wada Masako Tokyo Dai-1 Girl's Highschool and Kudo Yukie of Hongo Kinshu Girl's Highschool Tokyo; all 19 years-old. From the end of March the "air-girls", as they were called at the time, undergone a 10-day training course and begun flying from April 1st, 1931. Their job was to be friendly to the passengers and show them interesting sights seen from the window.
The story has apparently a rather inglorious end since all of them quit a month later because of the very low salary and the very cramped conditions inside the plane.

The original caption explained:
"Three girls were selected from a number of young women for a female's new occupation. They will serve in the travellers' plane from Tokyo to Shimizu."
The photo shows some of the ten finalists. The three girls that were chosen are the third and fourth from the left standing on the float and the girl standing on the wing on the right. Note the second girl from the left wearing kimono, tabi and geta (Japanese wood sandals and matching socks).

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