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Pan American World Airways Logos

Pan American’s first logo was an arrow piercing a shield shape bracket with the letters “PAA” enclosed. From the top of the shield, lines flowed towards the tail giving an impression of an arrow in express flight. In October 1930, Andre Priester ordered a standard theme for all Pan American aircraft, a logo designed with a hemisphere globe underneath a half wing. Over time, this logo evolved into a series of three symbols, which were placed on the nose and near the tail of all aircraft. The first globe in the series emphasized the Caribbean and Latin America, at the time, the company’s area of operation. In 1944, several changes were made by placing the letters “PAA” on the wing, incorporating grid lines, and rotating the globe to show portions of the western hemisphere. Later on, the grid lines were removed. Along the fuselage of all company aircraft, in navy blue, the official color for aircraft livery, a set of parallel lines were painted, one above and one below the windows.  

                During its existence, the corporate name changed three times. The original name was “Pan American Airways.” On January 3, 1950, the corporate name was changed to Pan American World Airways, which affirmed the company’s expanded global operation. In 1949, with the introduction of the Boeing 377 “Stratocruiser,” the airline’s most enduring slogan, “World’s Most Experienced Airline,” was adopted.

                 In 1955, New York architect Edward Larrabee Barnes was hired as Pan Am’s consultant designer. He and his associate Charles Forberg, in preparation for the introduction of America’s first commercial jets, the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC 8, revamped the image of the company. The traditional half-wing symbol was replaced with a clean blue globe over-laid with curved parabolic lines to give an impression of an airline without geographic demarcations. Royal blue became the official color. On all aircraft, a royal blue line ran along the fuselage below the windows. On November 1, 1972, the corporate name was changed for the final time to “Pan Am,” the company’s popular nickname. Pan Am’s famous blue ball became and still remains, one of the worlds’s most recognized corporate symbols, along with Coke Cola and Kodak.

On December 4, 1991, “Pan Am,” America’s premier airline, declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. Bankruptcy court sold the assets of the company, including the rights to the blue ball logo. Patent laws restrict reproduction or use of the blue ball trademark without permission of the owner. To circumvent this restriction, two iconic symbols, the logos of the prop age and the jet age, were combined to effectively focus on the company’s sixty-four year life time legacy in commercial aviation. In the hearts of former employees, the combined symbols will always represent the original venerated “Pan Am.”

Don Cooper

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