The iconic Jet Age airline Pan Am needs no introduction, but the front-line people who powered its success have been less known — until now. A new book by the journalist Julia Cooke, Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), explores the history of the famed airline through the stories of many women who made the airline a success during its 1960s heyday.
These stewardesses — as they were known then — came from diverse backgrounds but shared an interest in seeing the world and charting their own future. Through their work, these forward-thinking flight attendants bore witnesses to an era of significant societal upheaval in the United States and around the world, as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and the war in Vietnam raged. Some were even there for Operation Babylift, during which Pan Am jets ferried thousands of children out of Saigon in 1975, and on flights into and out of active war zones during the conflict.