Reba E Monk (December 24, 1924 in Etowah, McMinn County, Tennessee - December 1, 1947 in SeaTac, King County, Washington) was an airline hostess who died a hero in a tragic airplane accident.
After Reba's family moved west, Reba graduated from Santa Monica City College and Woodbury Business College. She attended UCLA for one semester. She went to work for Alaska Airlines in July 1947, after working for Delta Air Lines for 16 months
Alaska Airlines Flight 009 took off from Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday, November 27, 1947, bound for Seattle carrying 25 passenger and a crew of three.
The flight crew included: the pilot, Capt. James Evan Farris, 36, of Seattle, Washington; the co-pilot, Richard E. Whitting, 29, of Anchorage, Alaska; and flight attendant Reba Monk, 22, of Santa Monica, California.
Due to bad weather and mechanical problems, the four engine DC-4 plane was delayed for three days at two different stops. The flight took off Sunday, November 30, for the final 750 mile trip to Seattle. Bad weather still plagued the flight.
Flight 009 approached the Seattle-Tacoma Airport from the northeast and landed on Runway 20 at about 2:25 p.m. However, the plane didn't have enough room to stop. Captain Farris attempted to apply the brakes, but they didn't hold. The plane skidded off the end of the runway and crashed into a passing automobile, bursting into flames.
The passengers of the car were Ira Von Valkenberg, Stella Pearl Jones, 44, of Seattle, Von Valkenberg’s neighbor, and a blind widow with a 9-year-old son, Billie Lee. Von Valkenberg escaped, but the others died at the scene.
Inside the plane, Reba E. Monk continued to assist the passengers and was able to lead most of the passengers to safety. Then, the plane's gas tanks exploded and flames spread throughout the plane.
The survivors of the crash, including Monk, who suffered severe burns, were taken to the hospital in Renton, Washington. Monk died from her injuries. She was two weeks shy of her 23rd birthday.
The Civil Aeronautics Board discovered Captain Farris had left the cockpit for about 30 minutes during the flight,. During that period, Co-Pilot Whitting allowed a passenger to sit in the one of the pilot's seats. This was a violation of Civil Air Regulations prohibiting unofficial visits to the cockpit. Farris was fined $1,000 for violations of Civil Air Regulations.
*This has been the only crash with fatalities in the history of Sea-Tac Airport.*
Reba E. Monk is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral services were held at Trinity Baptist Church. Her tombstone reads: "Heroine Air Hostess"
and "She gave her life to save others."
She is buried next to her sister-in-law, Phyllis Joan Tallman Monk, who was married to Reba's younger brother, Felix, and died in childbirth on Oct. 27, 1957, at the age of 26. Phyllis Monk's tombstone also includes her son, John Walter Monk.