The World’s First Flight Attendant
- Name: Heinrich Kubis
- Year: 1912
- Airline: DELAG
- Aircraft: Passenger Zeppelin LZ-10 “Schwaben”
Kubis served as chief steward on all the German passenger zeppelins that followed, including LZ-120 Bodensee (which made regularly scheduled flights between Berlin and Southern Germany in 1919), LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, and LZ-129 Hindenburg.
Kubis worked alone on the early zeppelins, but there was an assistant steward and cook aboard the 20-passenger Graf Zeppelin, and a team of 10-15 cooks and stewards aboard the 72-passenger Hindenburg.
Kubis was in Hindenburg’s dining room when the ship burst into flame at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. When the Hindenburg sank close enough to the ground, Kubis encouraged passengers and crew to jump from the windows and jumped to safety himself. Kubis landed without injury and was not hurt in the disaster.
Kubis testified at the inquiry into the Hindenburg disaster and then returned to Germany, where he lived until his death in the 1970s.
Years before heavier-than-air commercial airliners were large enough to accommodate stewards, and 18 years before Ellen Church of United Airlines became the world’s first stewardess, Heinrich Kubis was earning his living in the air as the world’s first flight attendant.