Recollections of a Forties Hawaiian Airways flight attendant

(CNN) — Earlier this 12 months, Gwendolyn Bruhn, 94, traveled from her house on the…

Recollections of a Forties Hawaiian Airways flight attendant

(CNN) — Earlier this 12 months, Gwendolyn Bruhn, 94, traveled from her house on the Hawaiian island of Oahu to the Hawaiian island of Maui to attend her great-granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.

Within the inter-island departure terminal at Daniel Okay. Inouye Worldwide Airport in Honolulu, Bruhn got here nose to nose with an sudden shock. On the terminal wall was a big {photograph} from 1947, depicting Hawaiian Airways flight attendants lined up in entrance of an plane, every sporting the uniform of the time: crisp shirt, mid-length skirt, flowers pinned of their hair.

For Bruhn, this {photograph} wasn’t simply an attention-grabbing glimpse into aviation historical past. It was a glimpse into her personal previous.

“I assumed, ‘Oh my god,'” Bruhn tells CNN Journey. “I noticed my image, as I used to be years again.”

Bruhn is among the Hawaiian Airways flight attendants within the {photograph}. She’s on the far proper, within the high nook of the body, gazing simply previous the digicam.

“I used to be shocked and flattered {that a} image of me was on the wall,” she says immediately.

Bruhn was touring to Maui with a few of her relations. After they noticed the {photograph}, Bruhn’s granddaughter, Samantha Beaumont, requested the passenger sitting beneath if they’d thoughts briefly shifting so the household might take an image of Bruhn together with her youthful self.

The passenger obliged, and Bruhn posted for the {photograph}, including one other sudden chapter to her Hawaiian Airways legacy.

“I did not count on to see myself as I appeared years again as a flight attendant, however I used to be very honored,” says Bruhn.

Getting her air legs

Gwendolyn Bruhn pictured at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii earlier in 2022. Bruhn is looking at a photo of herself (she's top right) taken during her time working for Hawaiian Airlines.

Gwendolyn Bruhn pictured at Daniel Okay. Inouye Worldwide Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii earlier in 2022. Bruhn is a photograph of herself (she’s high proper) taken throughout her time working for Hawaiian Airways.

Courtesy of The Bruhn-Faria-Smith-Conmackie Ohana

Hawaiian Airways launched in 1929, only a 12 months after Bruhn was born. Bruhn was a flight attendant for the airline from 1947 to 1950.

Bruhn is her married title — when she began flying, aged 19, she was nonetheless Gwendolyn Kamai, dwelling in Honolulu together with her mother and father and siblings.

Whereas immediately Hawaiian Airways transports passengers internationally, within the early years the service solely flew inside Hawaii. However the airline was already making waves, connecting islands by air that had beforehand solely been reachable by boat.

Bruhn was thrilled when she discovered, through a flight attendant good friend, that Hawaiian Airways was seeking to rent extra workers.

“At the moment they wore lovely grey uniforms and yellow blouses, and so they have been very hanging, and I would admired them from afar, not realizing that sometime I used to be going to be fortunate to be sporting that very same uniform for Hawaiian Airways,” she recollects.

“I used to be shocked and flattered {that a} image of me was on the wall”

Gwendolyn Bruhn, former Hawaiian Airways flight attendant

Earlier than Bruhn bought the job, she’d by no means stepped on board an airplane in her life, however she brushed over this lack of flying expertise within the interview.

“They requested me if I had ever flown on a airplane, and I assumed I higher say sure,” she recollects. “After which they requested me, “Had been you ever air sick?” And I stated, ‘Oh no, I used to be nice.'”

On Bruhn’s first flight, she fought again nausea because the propeller plane made its method from Honolulu to the city of Hilo. She did her greatest to cover her discomfort from passengers.

“I would inform myself, ‘I can not present them that I am airsick, as a result of I am presupposed to be somebody they’ll belief,” she says.

Regardless of this shaky begin, Bruhn beloved her job from day one.

“I used to be so honored to be accepted as a flight attendant,” she says.

She provides that her nausea steadily light “as I bought my flying legs.”

Bruhn labored all of the routes on supply on the time, and located one thing to get pleasure from in all of them.

“The Hilo flight was lengthy, nevertheless it was very attention-grabbing,” says Bruhn. “The volcano would erupt generally, there have been instances that the captain couldn’t go over, however close to sufficient, in order that the passengers would be capable to see the lava erupting.”

She additionally beloved flights to and from Hawaii’s Large Island.

“It was recognized for its lovely flowers and leis, at any time when somebody would come on board, they’d all the time have a fantastic lei on,” recollects Bruhn.

Celebrities and tough passengers

Bruhn recollects assembly passengers from everywhere in the world. It was one in all her favourite elements of working as a flight attendant.

“You meet so many great individuals on flights,” she recollects.

Bruhn additionally helped ferry celebrities round Hawaii, together with actor Jimmy Stewart and swimmer Esther Williams. Bruhn says flight attendants have been suggested not to attract consideration to celebrities on board, and to deal with them with the identical politeness and respect that they’d another traveler.

“I all the time thought to myself that if I used to be of their place, I might really feel the identical method too — I would not wish to be overwhelmed with individuals taking footage or one thing like that,” says Bruhn.

Bruhn additionally navigated conditions involving tough vacationers, suggesting that disruptive airplane passengers have all the time existed in some kind.

“They simply did not pay attention once we defined you needed to preserve the seat belts on,” says Bruhn.

Whereas Hawaiian Airways did not supply alcohol on board presently, that did not cease some vacationers making an attempt to sneak on little bottles of liquor.

Bruhn must firmly and politely clarify they weren’t allowed to drink on board.

The plane operated by Hawaiian Airways within the late Forties have been small, and Bruhn was typically the one flight attendant on board.

Generally passengers would fall sick, and it could be on her to deal with it.

“However, you already know, we overcame all of that and we all the time made the passengers really feel that we have been there to serve them,” she says.

Through the interval by which Bruhn labored for the airline, Hawaiian, like many airways within the mid-twentieth century, had strict grooming requirements which Bruhn and her colleagues needed to adjust to.

“We all the time knew that we needed to keep slim, and never look sloppy,” says Bruhn.

Bruhn says she was proud to signify Hawaii, on the time not but a US state, to the world.

And he or she all the time loved representing Hawaiian Airways.

“I used to be additionally lucky to be in one of many yearly huge floats in Hawaii, and we represented Hawaiian Airways,” recollects Bruhn. “They requested a number of of us if, since we have been off that day, we’d thoughts being on the float, and simply waving at everybody.”

Forging friendships

Bruhn turned good associates with a lot of her colleagues at Hawaiian Airways. In addition to bonding together with her fellow flight attendants, she additionally bought to know a few of the mechanics and engineers who labored behind the scenes.

Certainly one of her coworkers, an airplane mechanic, supplied to take Bruhn on a personal flying journey. These flights quickly turned an everyday staple of Bruhn’s week.

“I might go a number of instances per week, fly over what we known as the excessive mountains and we would go over to Bellows [in Waimanalo, Hawaii] the place they’ve the navy base now,” recollects Bruhn.

Her days of airsickness behind her, Bruhn beloved the sensation of hovering over the hills and seashores under.

“I assumed, ‘That is what I wish to be, a pilot.’ However then it by no means did actually occur after, as a result of I bought sidetracked with assembly my husband and whatnot.”

Someday, Bruhn and her flight attendant good friend Lois have been enjoyable at Lois’ household house following a protracted day at work.

“I occurred to see this handsome individual, and I stated, ‘Oh, who is that this?’ She says, ‘my brother,'” recollects Bruhn.

Gwendolyn Kamai married William Carl Bruhn in 1950.

Gwendolyn Kamai married William Carl Bruhn in 1950.

Courtesy of The Bruhn-Faria-Smith-Conmackie Ohana

The Hawaiian Airways Christmas get together was on the horizon. Bruhn requested Lois if the brother, whose title was William Carl, wish to go as her date.

“That began our relationship,” says Bruhn.

Gwendolyn Kamai and William Carl Bruhn III, who labored for the Hawaiian Electrical firm, have been married in 1950. Bruhn gave start to her first baby the next 12 months.

Again then, it wasn’t widespread for flight attendants to be married with kids, so Bruhn closed the chapter on her time at Hawaiian Airways.

She and William Carl went on to have 4 extra kids. The couple have been married for 62 years, till William Carl handed away in 2012.

Right this moment, Bruhn has 11 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

70 years later

It could be a number of a long time since Bruhn labored on board an plane, however she nonetheless likes to journey by airplane.

When she’s on board, Bruhn typically displays on her time working within the air. Flying has modified, however she nonetheless sees herself in immediately’s flight attendants.

“Possibly a few of them went by means of the identical as I did once they began, while you needed to faux nothing bothered you,” she says.

A number of of Bruhn’s relations adopted in her footsteps and labored for Hawaiian Airways through the years.

Her granddaughter Samantha Beaumont labored for the airline from 2007 to 2008.

“Persevering with her legacy was positively a giant deal,” Beaumont tells CNN Journey. “I keep in mind being excited to inform her after I was employed after which after I truly made it by means of coaching.”

“After I see youthful women now in uniforms, I smile to myself. And I say, ‘I do know precisely what they need to undergo too.’”

Gwendolyn Bruhn, former Hawaiian Airways flight attendant

When Beaumont labored with Hawaiian, she flew internationally.

Her grandmother was just a bit envious.

“I all the time needed to go to different locations,” says Bruhn. “The stewards immediately are very lucky that point has gone on, and that extra enhancements have been performed within the journey world now. I envy them.

“But, I am glad that I had my time with Hawaiian Airways,” she continues. “I by no means will neglect how fortunate I used to be to have all these reminiscences to take a seat down with. After I see youthful women now in uniforms, I smile to myself. And I say, ‘I do know precisely what they need to undergo too.'”

High {photograph}, Gwendolyn Bruhn. Picture courtesy of The Bruhn-Faria-Smith-Conmackie Ohana.