Image from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
DC-3 Stewardess Cart
The Douglas DC-3 airliner is very dear to my heart. I have loved the design and romance of this plane from my childhood, so you can imagine my excitement when a dear friend called and asked me if I would like to accompany her on the final flight of United Airlines’ retiring DC-3 fleet. The year was 1968. The flight was round-trip between San Francisco and Santa Barbara.
Truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
My friend was, at the time, the longest serving stewardess at United Airlines. She began her career in 1936 serving aboard United’s Douglas DC-3 Sleeper Transports, also known as Skysleepers, from San Francisco to Honolulu. She had to be on that last flight and she invited me to join her.
Here's a photo of passengers boarding a DC-3 in the early years, from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Flash forward to the year 1999. My husband was a book editor. When a colleague, in a pinch, asked him to ghostwrite a few pages of a workbook based on a best-selling self-help book (which shall be nameless), he panicked. But since I happen to have once been addicted to the self-help genre, I told him, "Don't sweat the small stuff. We'll work on it together. It'll be fun." Besides, we were being paid a tidy sum for a few hours work.
A few weeks later we were out poking around antique and vintage shops. We wandered into a shop called Futures on Granby Street in Norfolk, VA. Much to my surprise and delight, we discovered an extruded aluminum and Bakelite airline serving cart from a DC-3. Wow!
We just had to have this classic example of industrial design. Bonus that it served on a DC-3. And the price was exactly what we'd been paid for our work on the book. Self-help indeed!
Click here if you'd like more information about the DC-3.
Here are more links that demonstrate the DC-3's stature as an icon of art deco industrial design.
Video of Delta Airlines' restored DC-3 ship 41.
Video of restored DC-3 on flight from Orlando to Punta Gorda.
Swissair’s restored DC-3.
Image credit: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum