In its article about 1956 film Julie, starring Doris Day, Wikipedia claims that it is “potentially the first film to feature the subplot of a stewardess piloting a plane to safety, later used in Airport 1975 (1975) and parodied in Airplane! (1980)”.
Someone on a personal webpage also mentions this possible first, but adds:
It may well be that Doris Day truly does hold pride of place as cinema’s first civilian to fly and land a plane – I’d dearly love to think so, anyway – but I have it in my head that there is a 30s drama in which a gangster being escorted on a plane by a policeman breaks free and shoots the pilot, and the stewardess – definitely a stewardess – has to land the plane. Now, I can find no firm evidence of such a film’s existence, let alone a title – and the obvious search terms bring up endless extraneous matter, as you might imagine – yet this seems too concrete an outline for me just to have imagined it. If anyone out there has any definite information one way or the other, please let me know.
Does anyone know about this 30s drama, if it exists? Or is there a definite confirmation that Julie is the first film with a stewardess landing a plane? What about non-stewardesses, non-pilots landing planes?