Heinrich Kubis

Heinrich Kubis (16 June 1888 – 1979) was a German professional waiter known for serving as the world's first flight attendant[1] and for surviving the Hindenburg disaster.

Heinrich Kubis (back row, fourth from right), pictured with other survivors of the Hindenburg


Kubis trained as a waiter and worked in several luxury hotels in Europe, including the Hôtel Ritz Paris and the Carlton Hotel, London.[2]

In March 1912 Kubis began attending to passengers on the LZ 10 Schwaben during flights from Berlin to Freidrichshafen.[3] He thereby preceded the debut of the first female flight attendant, Ellen Church, by eighteen years.[4] He survived the destruction of the Schwaben near Düsseldorf on 28 June 1912.

Kubis was on the Hindenburg at the time of its destruction in New Jersey in 1937. On the Hindenburg Kubis was not only a flight attendant but the manager of the entire waitstaff, overseeing fifteen cooks and waiters.[5] He was responsible for confiscating cigarette lighters and matches from passengers as they boarded the aircraft, stating, "We Germans don't fool around with hydrogen."[6] Kubis had nearly missed the voyage due to illness,[2] but recovered in time to make the flight on 3 May. Kubis was in the dining room at the moment of the explosion, and helped passengers to jump to safety. He himself escaped the disaster without injury.[7]

He died in 1979.[8]

In popular cultureEdit

Kubis has figured in fictional works about the Hindeburg disaster: The Hindeburg Murders by Max Allan Collins (2000),[9] and Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon (2016).[10] In the film Hindenburg: The Untold Story he was portrayed by actor Thorston Manderlay.


  1. ^ Wade, Lisa (23 July 2013). "Before the Stewardess, the Steward: When Flight Attendants Were Men". thesocietypages.org. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Heinrich Kubis: The First Flight Attendant". Aerotime Hub. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  3. ^ Law, Colin (2019). A Flight Attendant's Essential Guide: From Passenger Relations to Challenging Situations. BrownWalker Press. p. 2. ISBN 1627347283.
  4. ^ Tony Long (May 15, 2008). "May 15, 1930: The Skies Get a Little Bit Friendlier". Wired magazine. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  5. ^ Foss, Richard (11 December 2014). Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442227286.
  6. ^ Perkes, Dan (1976). Eyewitness to Disaster. Hammond. p. 46.
  7. ^ Nielsen, Thor (1955). The Zeppelin Story: The Life of Hugo Eckener. p. 227.
  8. ^ "First Flight Attendant in History". Global Training Aviation. 6 August 2020.
  9. ^ Collins, Max Allan (2000). The Hindenburg Murders. Berkley Prime Crime. p. 39. ISBN 0425174093.
  10. ^ Lawhon, Ariel (23 February 2016). Flight of Dreams: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday.