Pan Am Flight Crew Remembers The Era Of Flying Boats <


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Pan Am Flight Crew Remembers The Era Of Flying Boats

By Mike Mitchell

February 3, 2010 - A panel of Seattle area Pan American World Airways veterans will recall their experiences of the grand era of the flying boats, 1935 through 1945, during a February 13 program at The Museum of Flight. The panel will provide a rare, inside look at a bygone age in air transportation

The panelists will discuss the history, design and operations of Pan Am's flying boats, with a focus on the icon of the age--the Boeing 314 Clipper. The program will be illustrated with dozens of rare photographs from The Museum of Flight Photo Archive. Engineer Robert Blake started working for Pan American Airlines in New York during 1941. As a Pan Am First Officer, Capt. Herb Stevenson flew both the Boeing 314 and Sikorsky S-42 flying boats for Pan Am. Capt. Larry Bendlebury and Flight Engineer John Anderson also served on flying boats during the 1940s, with Anderson's career ultimately leading the flight deck of the Boeing 747.  

Pan Am Boeing 314 Clipper. Courtesy The Museum of Flight

Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the "flagship" international airline of the United States from the 1930s until its collapse on December 4, 1991. Founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail and passenger service operating between Florida (Key West, and later Miami) and Havana, Cuba, the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. Identified by its blue globe logo (widely known as "the blue meatball") and the use of the word "Clipper" in aircraft names and call signs, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century and the unofficial flag carrier of the United States.  

A question and answer session follows the program and the panelists will be available for signing Pan Am memorabilia. The presentation is at 2 p.m. in the William M. Allen Theater, and is free with admission to the Museum.  

The Boeing 314 Clipper, responding to a request by Pan American Airlines for a large airliner capable of flying across oceans in the mid-1930s, Boeing--with a late entry to the design competition--developed the huge, luxurious Model 314 flying boat. It joined the Pan Am "Clipper" fleet in 1939. With its two-deck cabin, it became the "jumbo" airplane of it's the era. 


With a range of 3,500 miles, the first scheduled trans-Atlantic Clipper flight was June 28, 1939. By 1940 the 314s were routinely flying across the Pacific. Clipper passengers enjoyed large windows, dressing rooms and gourmet meals served in a dining salon. The flying boat could seat up to 74 passengers, or in an overnight "sleeper" configuration with 40 bunks. A dozen Model 314s were built by the end of 1941. With World War II, Clippers were used as military transports. There are no surviving examples of the plane today. 

The Museum of Flight is one of the largest independent air and space museums in the world. The Museum's collection includes more than 150 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the William E. Boeing Red Barn the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Co. The J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing displays 28 World War I and World War II aircraft from the United States and other countries including Germany, Russia, and Japan.  

Over 30 aircraft representing the first century of aviation are displayed in the all-glass T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. The evolution of space flight and a look into the future are presented in the exhibit, Space: Exploring the New Frontier. The Airpark includes outdoor displays including the first jet Air Force One, a supersonic Concorde airliner and the prototype Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Interactive displays in The Flight Zone provide educational and entertaining activities for young children.  

The Museum's aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. More than 140,000 students are served annually by the Museum's on-site and outreach educational programs--the most extensive museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country. The Museum is the only air and space museum in Washington State that is both nationally accredited with the American Association of Museums and a Smithsonian affiliate. 

The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field half-way between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for active military, $8 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo.

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