This article, "Ein Stewardess muss schwimmen können," (A stewardess must know how to swim.) appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper on February 19th and took up two full pages, with the image of stewardesses in life-jackets simulating a plane-crash in water. It also shows simulated a kitchen fire, a flaming lap-top computer, and smoke in the cabin—all of them situations for which a stewardess must train.
I remember a scene in An Officer and a Gentleman, starring Richard Gere, Deborah Winger, and Louis Gossett, jr. Gere plays a young man who wants to attend the Air Force's Flight School, and Gossett plays the drill-instructor whose job it is to weed out as many candidates as he possibly can. In one scene, the candidates have to endure a simulated plane-crash in water. As the plane sinks in the water, they have to open the cockpit and swim out. One candidate shows his lack of aptitude for this task and nearly drowns.
And you thought only pilots had to endure such things! Look at this picture of women enduring a simulated plane-crash. They're not pilots. They're just the flight attendants; but really it's perfectly logical that the attendants would have to go through the same training. They are in the back with all the passengers, and an accident may demand that they perform under extraordinary pressure.
The exercise resembles whitewater-rafting, but these women clearly do not enjoy it. In an accident-situation, they will have to go from serving drinks and snacks, one moment, to yelling for two long minutes "Brace for impact!! Brace!! Brace!!" as long as they've got the lungs to do it. I've seen a few real-life crash videos, and all you can hear over the roar of the jet is the stewardesses yelling "Brace for impact! Brace for impact!"
When the pleasant stewardess brings you coffee or a bottle of water, look her in the eye when you thank her. She may end up being the person that saves you.