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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pan Am Clipper

"Nostalgic - brings warm memories to the old generation!... and specially to people in aviation & travel."

A Friend Sent me the following photos and commentary. 

Pan Am had a unique service using it's clipper planes. A a trip around the world. Pan Am had the only scheduled flight that circled the globe. Later on, in the seventies they used the newer Jet planes for their flight circling the globe. If you thought air travel is luxurious, check out What It was like aboard the WW2-Era Boeing Clipper

Clipper passengers took their meals at real tables, not their seats.

For most travelers in the 21st century, flying is a dreary experience, full of inconvenience, indignity, and discomfort. That wasn't the case in the late 1930s, when those with the money to afford Trans-oceanic flight got to take the Boeing Model 314, better known as the Clipper.

Even Franklin Roosevelt used the plane, celebrating his 61st birthday on board. Between 1938 and 1941, Boeing built 12 of the jumbo planes for Pan American World Airways.

The 314 offered a range of 3,500 miles — enough to cross either the Atlantic or Pacific —and room for 74 passengers onboard. Of course, modern aviation offers an amazing first class experience (and it's a whole lot safer), but nothing in the air today matches the romanticism of crossing the ocean in the famed Clipper.

The Model 314's nickname Clipper came from an especially fast type of sailing ship, used in the 19th century.

The ship analogy was appropriate, as the Clipper landed on the water, not runways.

Here's a diagram of the different areas of the plane.

On Pan Am flights, passengers had access to dressing rooms and a dining salon that could be converted into a lounge or bridal suite.

The galley served up meals catered from four-star hotels.

If you want to sit at a table to eat with other people these days, you have to fly in a private jet.

There was room for a crew of 10 to serve as many as 74 passengers.

On overnight flights, the 74 seats could be turned into 40 bunks for comfortable sleeping.

The bunk beds came with curtains for privacy.

On the 24-hour flights across the Atlantic, crew members could conk out on these less luxurious cots.

Unlike some modern jets that come with joysticks, the Clipper had controls that resembled car steering wheels.

Navigating across the ocean used to require more manpower in the air.

The lavatory wasn't too fancy, but it did have a urinal — something you never see in today's commercial jets, where space is at a premium.

The ladies lounge had stools where female passengers could sit and do their makeup.

The Clipper made its maiden Trans-Atlantic voyage on June 28, 1939.

But once the US entered World WarII, the Clipper was pressed into service to transport materials and personnel. In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt celebrated his 61st birthday on board.

Thanks to the Pan Am Historical Foundation for sharing its photos. The foundation is currently working on a documentary about Pan American World Airways and the adventure of the flying boat age. Find out more here.

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Hi, Karlene...

    And when next you're high above the Pacific on an uneventful trans-ocean passage, raise your coffee cup in salute to the shade of Capt. Edwin Musick, who pioneered those routes for PanAm. It wasn't the Boeing, Martin and Sikorsky flying boats, marvelous as they were, that led the way -- it was the pilots. Ed Musick, now rarely recalled, may have been the greatest among them, the giant on whose shoulders you and your colleagues stand today.



    1. Frank, Thank you so much! This is really nice. I will do that in four days! Toast my cup and think about the man who lead the way for all of us.

  2. Thanks for the great retro, Karlene (and to Frank for reminding us about Capt. Musick,).
    Ha! Many of today's 'commuter jets' carry more than 74 revenue seats. Someone should do enough math to figure out the per-head cost of flying only 74 souls over those distances, at that level of luxury - and in today's dollars. A multi-leg trip from say San Francisco to Australia probably took four days and I'm just inserting a WAG here, would probably have cost nearly $200k, again in today's dollars. Today's air travel, in any class, has a lot more in common with Greyhound Buses of the '30s than it does with Pan Am's Clipper Service of the same era. Save the odd privately owned G-VI or BBJ, this standard is gone forever. I certainly travel more today than my grandparents (born 1890s) did in the '30s, but I'm not sure that I'm better for it; the jury is still out. One question is easy: Do I enjoy my travels today as much as they enjoyed theirs (No, they did not travel in Clipper Class.) in the '30s? Probably not. I do not want to hurt any feelings or criticize your wonderful industry, but today, my ideal travel experience is a solo road trip of about three weeks, using as little of the Interstate Freeway system as is possible and just enjoying whatever comes my way. I have two planned this year, targeting two different regions of Amerika that I do not know as well as I should.
    Thanks again for the historical note and the wonderful pix. -C.

    1. Craig, you are enjoying the journey and that's what counts. I'm with you... while I love to get places quickly, and love to experience and enjoy the sky, the ocean and the weather... there is nothing like a good drive. I love it! Planning another road trip to Bend in a couple weeks.

  3. Love that bit of history, that is so cool! Thank you for sharing that.

    1. Thank you Heather. Yes.... those were the good old days of aviation.

  4. I remember getting my first radio set & listening to Air Traffic Control over the UK in the mid 1960s.Pan-Ams 'Clipper' call-sign was both frequent & famous.
    They operated the first Trans-Atlantic jet service with the Boeing 707.Also the first 747 service.
    A sadly missed aviation icon.

    1. Wow... what a memory that must have been. If only you had a recording today. To think you heard their voice. Pretty neat. Yes, sadly missed.


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