Pan Am is, and always will be, the celebrity of the airline industry.
Pan American airlines made flying glamorous. Being able to board the aircraft, be treated with royalty, and be ranked among the famous was definitely motivating for the first passenger flights. All travelers wanted to fly Pan Am. When prohibition was in effect in the U.S., travelers wanted to board the next Pan Am flight out of the states to Havana where they could have a good time. To have the ability to “jet set” was envied by many.
The first Trans-Pacific flight was monumental because flying from San Francisco across the Pacific Ocean established Pan Am as the first airline to do so, and reach Asia. Air travel never quit expanding, and Pan Am was the leader of the industry.
The Comet was made and created in Britain by the De Havilland Co. Pan Am ordered three Comet model planes from the De Havilland Co., and would be the first commercial jet plane purchase in the United States. The Comet did not have successful flights, and had terrible crashes, which caused concern for Juan Trippe. The De Havilland Co. took the Comet off the books for purchase and Trippe challenged the two U.S. plane manufacturers to build an aircraft to go to Europe, nonstop. Boeing and Douglas were the two manufacturers in the states, but when Boeing released the 707 Pan Am had its plane.
Juan Trippe’s dream of “every man’s airplane” is iconic not only to the aviation industry, but also to tourism, as we know it. Trippe believed that every man should be able to fly around the world, travel, and have the luxury that only few used to be able to have. No longer were the days of the rich and famous being solely placed in the seats of an airplane. Your average middle class family could board a Pan Am flight to London from New York and be treated like royalty. The realization of this dream by Trippe made dreams come true for thousands, if not millions, of people. Air travel is crucial in today’s society. No one has to worry about taking six months time off of work to take a train to here, a boat to there, then travel for a few months to simply get there.
Juan Trippe’s iconic quote of “A tourist plane filled with enthusiastic tourists going around the world would have much more effect on destiny than the atom bomb” is iconic to the tourism industry. Trippe simply saw how much of an impact tourism was having, and would have on the world. Being able to “jet set” and travel with your family was a dream of many. Boarding a Pan Am airplane and taking off for the weekend was now an achievable task. With Pan Am, families could enjoy the destination, culture, and experience of travel.
Pan Am was at its peak in the late 1960s early 1970s. With such a history of being a pioneer in the airline industry the airline dominated. With the first Trans-Pacific flight, the buying of a Boeing 707 and 747, expanding international travel and the list goes on, it is no wonder Pan Am shined. Pan Am was admired for their distinguished stewardess’s, pilots, customer service, and hospitality. Every woman in the world wanted to be a Pan Am stewardess. It was something admired and respected, and to this day is something of an honor. Travellers were served caviar, and full meals that “Any housewife would be proud of.” Pan Am was the epitome of the American dream for travel.
NASA’s moon landing and Pan American’s involvement was indeed accidental. Christmas Eve two bachelors were elected to work in the switchboard room, and they helped themselves to the liquor cabinet. After a few drinks and treating themselves for having to work on Christmas one of the men had an idea about Pan Am being the first airline to carry passengers to space. This man then called the news station, drunk, with this glamorous idea and the switchboards lit up like a Christmas tree. Pan Am issued moon landing/travel cards, and everyone wanted one. Needless to say Pan Am took hold of this publicity stunt, and will forever be correlated with the moon landing of NASA.
Pan American was brave and glamorous in their successful efforts of pioneering the aviation and tourism industries. Dearly admired, remembered, and adored by thousands of travelers and crew, Pan Am will forever be the champion of “Every man’s airplane,” cheers.