Sybil Peacock Harmon, who was a member of Delta Air Lines' first class of flight attendants, will turn 102 on July 9.
According to Delta's flight museum, Harmon was born in Minden, LA, on July 9, 1916. She served as a Delta stewardess from 1940-43.
"Most of the customers we had in the beginning were businessmen and you got to know them real well because you would see them over and over," Harmon said, in a 2014 interview with Delta's flight museum. "But this was the beginning, really, of people flying. An emergency would come up ... people would get on a flight ... But this started people to flying because they realized how quick it was.
"It was quick for those days, anyway,” said Harmon, who first served as an attendant on a Douglas DC-2.
Harmon entered military service in January 1944 at the Army Air Force regional hospital in Coral Gables, Fla. She was a special duty nurse to U.S. Air Force Gen. Hap Arnold from January-April, 1945.
Harmon was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1945 and joined the 830th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron in Stockton, Calif. She was discharged May 1946, and then served as an obstetrical nurse and later a supervisor at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, Tex.
“One of our duties was to pass out the chewing gum because planes then weren’t pressurized and it helped passengers swallow so they would not have problems with their ears," Harmon said. "I never did use my nursing skills on the flights [all Delta's first flight attendants were registered nurses], but many passengers suffered from airsickness from no air conditioning and pressurization.
"The airsickness container in those days was a quart ice cream container and it fit in a little round ring under the seat, so you wanted to get that out in plenty of time."
Harmon retired in 1985 after a career in private business.
“This was so new to people," Harmon said of commercial aviation's early years. "On Sundays they would come out to the airport and line the fence; whole families, and when you would walk up to the plane in your uniform, the kids would say, ‘Look, there she is. There is the stewardess.’ And you felt like a little celeb of some sort. It was a lot of fun.”
She celebrated her 102 birthday, on July 9, this past week.