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The Early Days of Pan American World Airways
Oct.1927 – Dec.1991

The airline was started by Juan Terry Trippe. His goal was, “To provide mass air transportation for the average man at rates he can afford to pay.”

Juan Trippe received the contract for US – Cuba mail service. In order to hold this air-mail contract Pan Am had to fly the Key West – Havana mail route by October 19, 1927. But the F-7 they ordered was not due to be delivered until September 30th. Pan Am chartered a West Indian Aerial Express Fairchild for $145.50 Service was started October 18, 1927 when La Nina flew 90 miles from Key West to Havana.

January 16, 1928 seven passengers aboard a Fokker F-7 inaugurated the first scheduled US flag commercial passenger service between Key West and Havana, a distance of 90 miles.

Dinner Key Terminal and Airport

Key West was the original home of Pan Am but with the arrival of the Fokker F10 Trimotors and its longer range than the F7 operations were moved to Miami. In 1928 Pan Am Headquarters were built in Miami and called the Dinner Key.  

The Dinner Key featured an eloquent upper deck restaurant. People would gather on the observation deck atop the Dinner Key Terminal to watch the Clippers arrive. Passengers disembarked and entered the terminal through a canopied passage way into the lower level of the Dinner Key terminal to go through US Customs.

Pan Am wanted Buenos Aries routes but these routes were owned by Grace Airways. Pan Am partnered with W.R. Grace and these two airlines merged to form an airline called PANAGRA-Pan American Grace Airways in 1929. This airline successfully serviced the west coast to South American till its sales to Braniff in 1968.

The America Clipper a Sikorsky S40 took off Nov. 19, 1931 carrying 33 passengers and mail while 5000 onlookers watched. Charles Lindbergh commanded the Miami to Barranquilla leg of the flight. This plane was christened by Mrs. Herbert Hoover on Oct. 12, 1931.

1934 the Philippine Clipper (NC14715) carrying 15 passengers at the speed of 130 mph arrives in Hong Kong Harbor. The completion of this Transpacific flight from San Francisco established the first commercial airline between North America and the continent of Asia.

The first Transpacific flight was flown on November 22, 1935 in the China Clipper. The flight was flown from San Francisco to Manila carrying 22 people fro $675 a ticket. Due to poor climb performance during takeoff, Captain Musick flew the Clipper under the Bay Bridge.

The first scheduled passenger Transatlantic flight was flown in May 1939 by the Dixie Clipper. The flight was flown from New York to Lisbon  and Marseille.

Dec 7, 1941 The Pacific Clipper flew an ‘unplanned’ trip around the world. It flew 31,500 miles in 209 hours and made 18 stops through 12 different nations. This was the longest continuous flight by a commercial plane and was the first circumnavagation following a route near the equator, crossing it four times.

The first commercial round the world flight occurred on June 29, 1947 in a Lockheed 049 ‘Connie’. Clipper America departed New York with 20 passengers and arrived in San Francisco. This 20,000 mile trip took 92 hours and 43 minutes flying over a period of 12 days, landing in 10 countries and 17 cities.

In 1950 Pan Am operated scheduled flights worldwide. They changed their name to Pan American World Airways. In mid 1950’s Pan Am was second only to Coca Cola in name recognition.  

On Oct. 15, 1957 the Boeing377 flew Operation Deep Freeze. It carried government officials and Navy construction team to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.

1954wardrobe.jpg (41131 bytes) 1954 Checklist for Women Clipper Passengers (click to enlarge)

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