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When LIFE ran a cover story in August 1958 on women that the magazine dubbed “Glamor Girls of the Air,” a career as an “air hostess” was still a relatively new pursuit. The way that LIFE described that pursuit, meanwhile, verged on the (almost laughably) patronizing:
You get the picture. But above and beyond the mid-century blather about slender hips and rich husbands-to-be, the article in LIFE offered a surprisingly nuanced picture of a stewardess-in-training’s day-to-day existence. From emergency drills and comportment exercises to the sisterly camaraderie forged during a month and a half spent working and playing together — in this case, at a stewardess school near Dallas, Texas — it’s clear that learning to be a “hostess with the mostest,” as LIFE put it, was no walk in the park.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.