By Barry Barbe

The 1960s and ’70s found the commercial airline industry in its heyday. This was when first class really existed, and economy wasn’t that bad either. Passengers dressed and relished the experience of being spoiled while traveling abroad.

It was the Golden Age of Air Travel, and for those who got to experience it whether as a passenger or a crew member, it was magical time of incredible change and innovation.

Unfortunately, the financial demands of maintaining the level of service did not translate well to affordable and no-frills travel that many currently experience.

For some, these changes resulted in leaving the industry as some passenger etiquette and unfortunate situations began to become more prevalent.

For others, flight offered opportunities to travel and experience the world and other cultures, creating lifelong relationships and memories.

For KK Weiler and Joann Coppage, being selected as a stewardess was the time of their lives and the beginning of careers that would span 33 and 36 years, respectively. This was the late ’60s.

With too many flights and hours to count, these ladies retired to Prescott and recently reflected back on an industry since Joann was recruited in 1965, and KK, later in 1969.

“It was a different time, and there were literally hundreds of girls applying for one or two positions as stewardesses,” Joann said. “I was living in Pennsylvania, and went to Miami to apply for the job and was hired! I was so excited,” KK added.

The traveler was different, and it was not inexpensive to fly, even domestic flights were not inexpensive with international flights being out of the range for most Americans. In the 1960s only 12% of Americans were able to fly, and most of those were business men or affluent families.

Despite the jokes about airline food, at the time, passengers were enjoying cocktails, wine, champagne and exquisite chef prepared meals complete with silver and glassware.

A far cry from smoked almonds and biscuits of today.

If you were fortunate enough to fly at the time, you dressed for the occasion, and so did the stewardesses and crew.

“There was a lot of pressure on looks and appearance for all the flight crews,” Joann explained. “There were monthly weight checks, we had to wear girdles, no bangs, and they would measure your wrists… I was allowed to weigh 116.”

“It sounds extreme, but we loved our job and we loved working with the passengers. It was a definitely a different time, but we always felt appreciated and well looked after.”

“At the time being a stewardess was one of the few positions a lady could apply for besides secretarial or office positions. It was new and exciting.”

Each airline had a different look and market, so the stewardesses’ appearance and uniform had to match the “look.”

JoAnn started her flight career on prop planes, and shortly there-after became a lead on 747s traveling internationally and on domestic flights. Jets were just beginning to take off in the late ’60s, and the ’70s was a period of new creative “perks.”

“Things have changed,” KK interjects.

During the 1980s and early ’90s airline travel began to change dramatically. Flights became more affordable, but to do such, many of the earlier benefits or perks that were customary were gone. Along with it some of the shine from air travel was lost.

“Pan Am treated us like queens and we loved flying. You became a family, even though you are flying with different crews all the time. You created a unique community that not everyone can understand and appreciate.”

It was back in 2006 while walking the neighborhood, that Joann met Nicki Krauss and had their first conversation about creating a casual social group of stewardesses, both current and retired.

The two later met KK and discovered there were quite a few stewardesses living in Prescott.

The Prescott Fly Girls started with over 120 members at their first “official” meeting on Aug. 1, 2015. The group continues to share their stories every other month, with Candi Kolves, madame secretary taking meticulous notes.

While a social group, the Prescott Fly Girls have pulled together to donate artwork to the Prescott Airport Lobby, as well as working with Dog Tree Pines senior dog sanctuary.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. His radio show, the Prescott Palette, is on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email:

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