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Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking.
Welcome on board your Pan American Clipper.
We're ready for takeoff so please sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.
# Come fly with me Let's fly, let's fly away... #
Once upon a time,
travelling on an aircraft was like floating on cloud nine.
You were always greeted with a smile,
offered your favourite cocktail
and served a delicious gourmet meal,
and you never knew who you might be sitting next to.
# Come fly with me, let's float... #
For more than half a century,
Pan American Airways was the symbol of airline superiority worldwide.
It took us into the jet age,
shrank the globe and made glitz, glamour
and exotic travel available to the masses.
From its beginnings in 1927 to its final days in the early 1990s,
Pan Am led the way in nearly every aspect of commercial flight,
and changed for ever our dreams, aspirations
and perception of the world.
'In an era that was glamorous,'
it was that much more glamorous than any other airline.
It symbolised all the good things of airline travel.
You felt the most privileged to be able to get on board a Pan Am plane.
Pan Am was THE airline to get on.
It was the most glamorous thing possible.
Everybody looked up to what Pan Am did worldwide.
Well, I just remember the girls. They couldn't do enough for you.
Another town, another man!
# Pack up, let's fly away! #
1927, Prohibition was in, silent pictures were out.
Everyone was doing the Charleston
and a small airline called Pan American began service
carrying mail between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba.
By 1928, passengers were climbing on board.
At the time, air travel for the masses seemed little more
than a pipe dream.
But for Pan American's president, Juan Trippe, it was the future.
'Dad was a visionary.'
You think back in the beginning of early aviation,
there really wasn't a commercial aspect and anybody that thought
they'd make a livelihood from aviation was nuts.
Looking to escape prohibition,
Americans were keen to get to Havana for a drink and a good time.
And Pan American was perfectly positioned to take them there.
But Trippe had bigger plans for the airline.
To help him achieve his goal, he enlisted the most
famous pilot in the world, Charles Lindbergh,
who'd only recently become the first man to fly non-stop across the Atlantic.
'In one night, Lindbergh becomes
'the idol of America. A shy world hero.'
Together, Lindbergh and Trippe secured access to exotic
new destinations across Central and South America
and acquired a series of larger seaplanes that could land
in cities with no airports and carry passengers in comfort and style.
In the beginning there were only male flight attendants.
The job of the steward was to row people out to the seaplanes,
load baggage, buy food in the middle of nowhere.
Trippe called his new planes Clippers, after the fast
and manoeuvrable ships of the 19th century.
It was a name that would last as long as the airline.
By the early 1930s,
Pan Am's Clippers where the symbol of modernity.
And they had a flashy new terminal in Miami called Dinner Key.
Dinner Key was an attraction in and of itself.
People actually paid money to go and watch the planes arrive.
Often times there would be a celebrity so you would be
seeing a countess or a movie star getting off this air flight.
Pan American had become a byword for glamour and sophistication.
But for Juan Trippe that wasn't enough.
He had been secretly planning a project no other
commercial airline would have dared attempt -
the crossing of the Pacific Ocean.
That was extremely difficult.
I think young people today think airplanes were always here.
And they don't realise how hard it was to get across that 10,000 miles.
Overcoming all obstacles on November 22, 1935,
Pan Am's China Clipper began the world's first transpacific service,
departing from San Francisco, California,
and island hopping its way to Manila in the Philippines.
A journey that took over three weeks by ship now took 6 days.
Crossing the Pacific was an adventure.
Crossing the Atlantic was a money-spinner,
and to make it really pay, Pan American needed a bigger plane.
'Mrs Roosevelt is to christen the world's largest airplane.'
On the 20th of May 1939,
the Yankee Clipper began service from New York to Europe
introducing new levels of comfort, speed and sophistication to the sky.
Offering fine dining, sleeping compartments
and even a bridal suite,
the new Clippers made the
26-hour journey across the pond feel like a night at the Ritz.
The future looked cushy.
All Pan Am's clouds seemed to have a silver lining.
But World War II changed everything.
# I'm doing my bit down here for Uncle Sam... #
Pan Am Clippers were stripped, camouflaged
and pressed into service as thousands of young aviators
underwent training at Pan Am's facilities in Miami.
We had been in the business of flying across the oceans for 17 years
by the time air force or navy began it.
Consequently, we were able to teach them.
Pan American flew supplies, troops and mail across the world
and performed secret missions, including
the transport of world leaders such as Roosevelt and Winston Churchill
whose covert flight from the US to Britain became quite an adventure.
'The man with the cigar is no novice when it comes to piloting a machine.
'He remarked casually that the aircraft was
'very different from a plane that he had flown in 1913.'
The Nazis thought he was on BOAC and they bombed
the BOAC flight but we had sent him on another one with a decoy.
They almost overflew the French coast and approached England from
a direction which they would have been intercepted and shot down.
Somehow, he got in safely. He dodged a bullet that day.
By the end of the war, aviation had made incredible advances.
A Pan Am seaplane had been the first commercial aircraft
to circumnavigate the globe and runways had been built worldwide.
But the age of the great flying boats was over.
A new era in air travel was about to take off.
No-one understood this better than Juan Trippe.
Air power can enslave the common man or it can free him.
He said in a speech one time that the tourist plane, filled with
enthusiastic tourists going around the world, would have
much more effect on destiny than the atom bomb.
# You should care for me. #
Pan American was entering its golden age.
Embracing the new technology of land planes, Trippe enlisted
the aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Douglas,
to come up with a series of large luxury carriers.
The crowning achievement being the spectacular Boeing Stratocruiser.
# My life's so glamorous... #
The Stratocruiser was probably
the most luxuriously accommodated airliner, maybe of all time.
It's a big double-decker derivation of the B-29 bomber.
'While the Clipper thrives in the stratosphere's clean,
'cold upper air, her cabin's kept at a steady comfortable temperature.
'Radiant heating and air conditioning combine to maintain a constant
'flow of fresh air with no draughts and no chills.'
And of course, it's pressurised.
It had supercharged engines that could fly above the weather in most cases.
Which made an 18-hour oceanic flight suddenly not so bad.
It was an incredible aircraft. Downstairs lounge, berths.
You were served a beautiful dinner. Champagne, caviar, steak, ice cream.
The whole works.
# You made my life so glamorous. #
'Your dinner may be turned out with production line efficiency,
'but it's a meal that any housewife would be proud to serve
'and you couldn't be more comfortable
'in your own dining room.'
I flew on one of the first flights I can really remember.
I can remember sleeping in the bunks and running up and down
the lounge and up to the bathroom.
The size of the plane seemed at the time incredible.
The luxurious accommodations on board made it a special plane.
Cashing in on the glamour of international travel,
Pan American changed its name to Pan American World Airways
and welcomed with open arms some of Hollywood's finest.
# S'elegant... #
But the Stratocruiser was just a stepping stone for Juan Trippe.
He wanted to have the most advanced aircraft in the world.
And his rush to get them would turn commercial air travel on its head.
I think it was in Juan Trippe's nature to peer into the future.
And he saw this, I think, instantly,
when he smelled kerosene from the first jet engine.
But Pan Am would not be the first airline to employ jets.
The British had already introduced their jet, the Comet,
on some of BOAC's international routes.
Even a fiercely American corporation
like Pan Am recognised that if
they were to remain competitive then they would have to look overseas.
They'd have to buy what the British had to offer,
namely the Comet II and Comet III.
# He said, your story's so touching but it sounds just like a lie. #
It looked like the British were on course for a spectacular success,
but then, just at the moment of maximum triumph, tragedy struck.
Yoke Peter took off from Rome airport on schedule.
A few minutes later, the plane exploded.
The ships of the Royal Navy hastened to the spot.
There were no survivors.
After a series of terrible accidents, the Comet was grounded.
With the British now out of the picture, Trippe turned
to his domestic suppliers and coerced them into building his jets.
The result would establish Pan Am as the world's leading airline.
'This is it. The first American
'commercial jet capable of economical transatlantic service.
'The Boeing 707 Jet Clipper.'
# Come fly with me Let's fly, let's fly away. #
In October 1958,
Pan Am inaugurated its 707 jet service from New York to Paris.
Another first, it cut transatlantic travel times in half.
The jet age had truly arrived and, along with it, the jet set.
# Come fly with me Let's float down to Peru... #
You wanted to be a jet setter because that meant
you were on a fast airplane going to exotic places.
Nothing was far away any more.
Remote places you wouldn't have dreamed of going
without having six months off, you could go visit in a weekend.
It was not just the introduction of the jet and the speed and the range,
the capacity, it was also the introduction of the tourist fare.
Mass tourism became a reality.
# Hey, everybody
# Come along if you can... #
As Pan Am entered the 1960s, it was at the top of its game
with a catchy new logo and headquarters in central Manhattan,
it extended its roots and chain of international hotels.
# Come on and dance... #
Well, it was a very recognisable brand,
even to people like me from little towns.
It was supposedly next to Coca-Cola in recognition.
And they sold Pan Am stuff.
People would buy the carrier bags and the little pins
and all that kind of stuff.
Product placement and merchandising well in advance
of many other industries.
If you notice on Mad Men,
Sterling Cooper wants to get the Pan Am advertising account,
it's like, wow!
Everybody who was anybody flew on Pan Am.
I know James always did, when I wasn't flying him, of course!
The first two James Bond films, Dr No and From Russia With Love,
what does James Bond fly?
When the Beatles arrived in the US and did
a press conference at the airport in New York, what's the plane logo
right behind them in huge letters? It's Pan Am.
The publicity machine was absolutely incredible.
The Beatles, their first flight to New York,
mobbed with all the youngsters and others at the bottom of the steps
when they boarded the aeroplane.
Beatles were on board, all of them,
in first class, and they were just lovely,
Some of the famous people we had were Ava Gardner,
Maureen O'Hara, Ingrid Bergman.
David Frost was never off the damn thing! He always was!
On the other hand, we had Elizabeth Taylor, with Richard Burton.
Richard was very nice to us, which I don't think
Elizabeth particularly liked, so she could be a difficult passenger.
Sean Connery, and he was very funny.
He had nice, twinkly eyes. I liked that.
You're telling me?!
The Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra in particular,
who was a very difficult passenger. Very difficult.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.
We're now at cruising altitude, 35,000 feet.
Our flying speed is 575 miles per hour...
Every passenger, famous or not, knew the minute
they stepped onto a Pan Am jet
they would experience something most could only dream of.
When you went on a Pan Am flight, you were in heaven,
the way they took care of you, with the comforts you needed,
and just the way they treated passengers.
Passengers were happy and excited to be on a plane.
"Hey, I'm on a Pan Am, I'm going to Paris!"
You dressed up to get on an aeroplane.
It was glamorous, it was wonderful.
The arrival of the 707 was really something.
The interiors, the cabins, the flight instruments,
the whole thing was quite different,
and you didn't get the vibration, compared to the piston engine.
It was lovely.
It had a lounge in the front when you got on, a first-class lounge,
with seating like this,
which was lovely,
because people could come from their seats and sit there.
These seats weren't sold.
We always used to serve caviar,
big tins of it, beluga caviar, and we didn't just give
one little portion, we used to go through and offer a second as well.
We were very generous with it.
The food was sensational.
They had whole cheeses and hams sliced for you.
It was Maxim's of Paris, our catering at the time.
We were always quite proud of that, as well.
It wasn't just a catering unit, it was Maxim's of Paris.
I always ate too much, because in the picture business,
they always had you on a diet,
but when I got on a Pan Am flight,
I'd overeat everything.
It was always absolutely delicious.
There was a famous item on the menu, which was called Sole Albert.
To this day, I wish I could get the recipe, but it seems to be a secret.
When you look at what passed for gourmet food
in the United States in the early '60s...
..we were far, far ahead of the curve.
It was very French, and we served it properly.
We'd get this fabulous fillet of beef or something,
six or seven-pound thing, and that comes in first class.
It was raw. It was all made from scratch.
The wines that were served were obviously very high quality.
I think in those days they also had to know if the wine would travel.
It was second to none. I don't think you'd even see it
in some of the finest restaurants today.
# Here come the girls
# Girls, girls, girls, girls... #
Perhaps the most important element for an airline's image was
its cabin crew. They were the public face of the airline, and Pan Am put
a lot of thought into the kind of person
they wanted to represent them.
By 1960, they were almost exclusively female,
and many a young woman was lining up to get on board.
# They must have kept it up above
# Here come the girls... #
I was tired of my job in the police force at that time,
and a friend I'd worked with earlier, she'd gone to Pan American,
and used to write to me and say,
"This is really what you should be doing."
So one day, I thought, "Yes, I'll apply."
There was a recruiting team that came over to Europe.
They took in London, Germany, Scandinavia, France.
Our flight attendants were very carefully chosen.
They had to have perfection.
They were not looking for little, "Hi, I'm Sandy!," that kind of thing.
They were looking for people who were sophisticated, or could become so.
We had to be of a certain weight, height.
I think the blondes appealed in Scandinavia.
They had to speak languages, the girls did.
They were an international airline,
and they wanted to put this over to the public.
We had our choice of the cream of the crop, and we took it.
Part of the recruitment process was
also having to do a little catwalk,
whereby the interviewer would make you
walk both ways, do a turn.
They said, "Could you take that chair?"
So I had to get up, obviously wanted to see me
walk over to the other chair.
I remember being asked to stand in front of the interviewers
and turn around, walk away,
turn around and walk back towards them.
I think they were looking at my figure, my legs,
my overall ambience, I don't know!
A week later, they said, "We'd like you to be in New York in two weeks."
'Passengers clearing immigration should file through customs
'to exits one and three.'
I felt as though I was achieving something in life,
going to New York and then flying down to Miami the following day.
I was 20, I was going to be 21 when I got there.
It was all so new that it was bewildering.
Some of our training, we found, coming from Europe,
was quite hilarious.
One of the things that came up was to deliver a baby.
Well, we didn't actually do anything particularly - we used a chair.
She also told us, "Be very careful when abroad,
"don't drink the water, clean your teeth in Coca-Cola."
We were given this book to read, How To Win Friends And Influence People.
And I guess I can admit to it now, I just didn't read it.
# Oh, I love the colourful clothes she wears
# And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair... #
Vital to the image was the uniform.
Using top Hollywood designers like Don Loper and Edith Head,
Pan Am turned out some of the most memorable looks in the business.
First day that I actually had to put the uniform on,
my shift was starting at 6:00 in the morning,
and from two I couldn't sleep. I was dying to get into that uniform!
Uniforms in the '60s, was very definitely a uniform.
That changed later. We all had exactly the same.
In fact, when you see photographs of us on our graduation,
it's difficult to pick yourself out, we all look like clones.
The jackets had little buttons on them, and our hats, the pillbox hat.
And the iconic white gloves, had to wear white gloves.
They were very smart, but they were stiff, it was all very stiff.
It was not exactly sexy. It was frighteningly smart!
We had to wear panty girdles, and these panty girdles went down
our legs, and they kept our legs straight
and the line of the skirt straight.
And we had girdle check.
This could also be not just a female supervisor,
it could be a male supervisor,
and they would come along and just check to see you had a girdle on.
There's only one way to do that,
and that's to flick the waist to test it.
That damn girdle business.
You had to wear that, because they would come behind you and pinch.
I think the story about the girdle is unbelievable,
that they actually checked they were wearing a girdle!
Anyway, they looked terrific, so perhaps they were right.
We in New York had a grooming supervisor called Lona Lovaly.
And Lona, we used to call her Lona Lovely.
Because Lona Lovely used to inspect us, and not a thing went by.
Everything was checked.
You never left the briefing office without being immaculate.
The preferred nail polish and lipstick was Revlon's Persian Melon.
Make-up, they had a certain make-up you had to wear.
You couldn't have highlights in your hair.
It turned out that Persian Melon made me look like a cadaver!
And you had to get written permission to wear a different kind of lipstick
other than Persian Melon.
Pan Am did in fact have the most glamorous flight attendants -
stewardesses we call them - in the world.
A very nice bunch of young ladies, I have to say.
As a young man, they were a very nice bunch of young ladies!
Pan Am stewardesses were to me the most elegant, sophisticated,
most beautiful women that I've ever come across in my life.
The Pan Am stewardesses were sex symbols
like all the other airline stewardesses.
But they were a cut above.
They were not the plateau in terms of sex symbolism,
if there's such a thing.
They were on the same plane, from a male perspective,
as actresses and models.
They were immaculately dressed,
beautiful, young, hourglass figures, very interesting looking,
and well worth a date.
They were trim and fit and very attractive.
They had curves as nice as the airplanes.
You could have picked out one to marry
on every flight. Gorgeous women.
I've been told since that people used to watch us walking through
the terminals of the airport and think, "Ah, don't they look smart!
"Where are they going? I'd love to be going with them!"
I don't know how to explain glamour, but you could do anything you wanted,
there were so many people asking you out.
Yeah, we got a lot of attention from men.
I don't think we considered ourselves sex symbols in the way
some of the other airlines advertised their stewardesses, like,
"I'm Nancy, fly me," that kind of thing.
I'm Diane. I've got 747s to Miami. Fly me.
I'm Terri. I've got great connections in Miami,
all over the sunshine states of America. Fly me.
I'm Marissa. I've got non-stop flights to Miami every day. Fly me.
You got a certain aloofness from the Pan Am stewardesses.
They knew they were special, and they were somewhat aloof.
You didn't mess with them,
you didn't come on with some stupid line.
# Who's that lady?
# Who's that lady?
# Beautiful lady... #
The phone would ring, and it would be some local guy who had paid
the desk clerk for the crew list. And the guy would say,
"Hello, Miss Sweeney,
"I see you in the lobby and you are very beautiful.
"Will you have dinner with me tonight?" "No!"
And then the phone would ring again and it would be for the other girl.
"Hello, Miss Jones, I see you in the lobby, you are very beautiful.
"Will you have dinner with me tonight?"
I remember a guy used to get on a plane, every time he went,
he would take off his wedding ring
and use man tan to get rid of the little white ring on his finger,
so the stewardesses didn't know he was married.
There was a whole world of men. I called them stewbums.
They just wanted to hang around with stewardesses.
A stewbum would be considered somebody who was a little bit
creepy and obsessive, only wanted to date stewardesses,
probably thinking, as many of them did,
that the airlines had already gone through the screening process,
so if they wanted to get a girlfriend or a wife,
this was the most efficient way!
A lot of male passengers were out to find a wife,
and if not a wife, certainly someone to date.
We had a lot of that, and we enjoyed it, of course.
# I'm all right tonight
# And I do just what I want... #
Young, free and single, the Pan Am stewardesses of the 1960s were
given opportunities most women of the time could only dream of.
Not surprisingly, many couldn't wait to take the plunge.
The world was our oyster.
In the '60s, when we flew, it was quite...
It was quite general, I suppose, for us
to have many friends around the world.
If there was a very interesting, good looking,
intelligent person, I was fussy, then, you know...
Obviously I would go with him!
Why would somebody in Paris stop me
from going out with somebody in Rome?
We used to be taken out for wonderful dinners. Maybe given lovely presents.
I did not have to be, you know, one person. Everybody knew that...
Maybe not everybody! But I did.
I think we were respected as being a good date,
somebody to have on your arm and who dressed well,
looked good, and lived their lives the next day as well.
You'd pack a suitcase, and all of your troubles would be...
You're in another place.
Another town, another man!
In their own way,
Pan Am pilots were just as glamorous as the stewardesses.
Many had trained during the war,
and brought a strong sense of professionalism to the job.
But they also enjoyed the benefits of a jet-setting lifestyle,
and were the envy of many a young man.
Pan Am pilots, they were the best trained in the business.
They knew how to change an engine.
That's how thorough their training was.
The pilots of Pan American were first and foremost highly professional.
They also looked good in their uniform.
The senior captains on the 707s probably flew mail,
flying biplanes, and they came up through the flying boat era.
They flew the China Clipper.
They'd flown through the war on the flying boats.
They'd been through the long-range land planes.
And here they were flying jets in our cockpit!
There were some captains who were...
I would like to use the word characters,
but they really sometimes went way overboard with their...
..pernickety ideas, and they were very difficult to work with,
very demanding, and treated us very poorly.
I felt the pilots were very nice, but not that sophisticated.
They felt everything was incredibly expensive.
They'd go to the embassy for a hamburger.
Pilots are generally known to be cheap.
We would go out for dinner, and in those days,
the girls were usually on a diet.
We were always being weight checked.
And we ate fairly sparsely, I would say.
The pilots went through the whole menu,
plus the Martinis to start, and so on and so forth,
and at the end, they would say, "Let's share the bill, shall we?
"Let's divide by 10..." Whatever it was!
I can recall one check pilot in particular, by the name
of Charlie Blair, and he was dating Maureen O'Hara at the time.
She would travel with us from New York over to London,
and Charlie Blair would be the captain. And it was just magical.
That was part of his job, to make the public,
or the customers on the flight, feel comfortable.
And he had the great ability to do that,
besides being a very handsome man, so all the ladies enjoyed it!
Captain Blair? That Maureen O'Hara married?
For me, I didn't see anyone else I would want.
He used to say that I was Queen of the Earth, and thank God I was!
I know that sounds very jealous and cocky and full of yourself,
but if Charlie Blair was in love with you, and you were in love with him,
of course you have a right to be cocky and self-centred.
And I am!
There were often romances between flight attendants and pilots,
and we did have a lot of young pilots, navigators,
we used to call them baby-gators.
Most of us had come from an institutional background,
from family to college to the military,
and we had never really seen the real world, and all of a sudden,
we meet these gorgeous, sexy, very smart and charismatic women.
a life-changing experience for many of us!
In the 1960s, Pan Am crews were so glamorous and successful,
it's no wonder they caught the eye of 16-year-old confidence trickster, Frank Abagnale.
For over two years, he successfully impersonated a Pan Am pilot,
and his story became the subject of the Steven Spielberg film,
Catch Me If You Can.
One afternoon, I was walking up 42nd Street in New York,
and all of a sudden, coming out of what was then
the Commodore Hotel, was a Pan American flight crew.
And I was so impressed with the pilots and the flight attendants,
and all the respect and heads they turned as they were coming down the steps,
getting ready to board a van to take them to the airport.
And I thought to myself, "Boy, if I could get one of these uniforms,
"then I could pose as a Pan Am pilot."
Using a little ingenuity,
Frank did manage to get hold of a uniform, and suddenly, doors opened.
In particular, bank doors!
Had I walked into a bank and had that Pan Am cheque that I had made up,
and handed it to someone,
they would have laughed me out of the bank, the way it looks.
But because I walked in with the uniform on of the Pan Am pilot,
they didn't think anything about it. They weren't paying attention to the cheque.
They were only paying attention to me.
He was able to cash cheques, because back in those days,
Pan Am pilots had that kind of status.
Taking advantage of an airline practice called deadheading,
where off-duty crew members could hitch a lift on any airline for free,
Frank travelled the world without ever having to fly a plane.
I remember someone saying that there was an impostor pilot.
So if you get a funny feeling about somebody...
But, you know...I never did. I don't know how he got away with it.
Frank got away with it by deadheading on any airline but Pan Am.
That way, no-one would ask him awkward questions.
It worked, for a while.
I can see how he could have pulled that off outside Pan Am, I think.
If they are charming enough, like Frank obviously was,
people probably give them the benefit of the doubt.
The only close call I had was when I was on a BOAC from New York to London,
and at about 35-38,000 feet going across the water,
the captain got up and said he was going to go back for a cup of coffee,
and he turned to me in the jump seat, and he said,
"Go ahead and take my seat!"
So I looked at him, and said, "OK!"
And I slid into the captain's seat and buckled the belt,
but I had the co-pilot and I had the flight engineer.
But I was very prepared, had the co-pilot said at that point,
"You know what? I have got to go back and use the restroom too."
I would have said, "Whoa, whoa. Stop.
"I have to tell you a story about the 16-year-old kid who got a uniform."
I would have never carried it that far!
In Catch Me If You Can, there is a priceless scene of him
arriving at the airport with this bevy of beautiful stewardesses
hanging on his arm.
I guess that was an ultimate male fantasy of the '60s.
I got to fly all over the world doing this, for two years.
But it was all just by chance, seeing that Pan Am crew come out of that hotel in New York.
By the late 1960s, Pan Am had revolutionised the airline industry,
introducing some of the first computer systems,
automated pilot programmes and in-flight messaging via satellite.
It seemed there was nothing Pan Am couldn't accomplish.
So it was no surprise when the film director Stanley Kubrick
depicted a Pan Am spacecraft carrying passengers to the moon
in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In one of the early scenes is this spacecraft flying out into lunar orbit,
and plainly, emblazoned on the tail, is this big Pan Am blue ball.
With a Pan Am stewardess in a very, sort of...
I don't know, the 1960s idea of what the well-dressed stewardess
would be wearing in 2001.
The thing everyone remembers is that she had the weird little helmet.
This was science fiction.
But in 1968, there was no doubt that if somebody did fly into space,
it would be, of course, Pan-American.
In December of that year,
the Apollo 8 manned mission to orbit the moon departed.
As moon fever gripped the world, the guys at Pan Am were presented with a unique opportunity.
'It was Christmas Eve,'
so the question came up, who was going to man personnel?
Well, the two bachelors had to do it.
So there they were, and they were watching these newscasts.
So one of them said to the other,
"Why don't we tell them that Pan Am is taking reservations for the moon?"
Well, they had a cabinet in the office with some booze in it,
and I think they treated themselves a little bit,
because it was Christmas and they had to work.
So, they called up the channel, so the guy announced it on TV.
The switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree!
I have here a reservation for a flight to the moon.
They thought they might as well capitalise on this a little bit,
and decided to issue a little wallet-sized card, like this,
First Moon Flights Club.
And it confirms they made their reservation.
This one is number 42,673.
The switchboard was jammed for days, which wasn't too good, you know!
My name is on the list there somewhere.
Ronald Reagan's name was on the list.
One man who was on the list, he wanted to ask
if it was possible, when we began service, if we could
fly his ex-wife up there, but leave her there on a one-way trip!
If Pan Am had not gone bankrupt,
they positively would have gone to the moon.
Before Pan Am could seriously contemplate space travel,
Juan Trippe had much more earthly goals to accomplish.
Though successful, the Pan Am of the 1960s was not exactly
the carrier for the common man that Trippe had envisaged.
Before his retirement in 1968,
he laid the blueprint for one of the most extraordinary aircraft ever to get off the ground.
The colossal Boeing 747.
The 747 was the next logical step after the 707.
It was the culmination in stretching the envelope to allow...
..the aircraft to fly more people at lower fares.
Trippe wanted something bigger that could carry more people,
and with longer range,
and so we started talking to them,
and they all said no, it's impossible.
Mind you this was a Pan Am idea, a Pan Am concept.
Originated in Juan Trippe's head.
This is what he wanted, and this, by God, was what Pan Am was going to have.
Trippe was asking for something impossible. Bill Allen listened.
And Dad had, after the 707,
this very close relationship with Bill Allen, who was the chairman of Boeing.
They were standing just outside the door of Mr Trippe's office,
and Bill Allen said, "If you buy it, I'll build it."
And Trippe said, "If you build it, I'll buy it." And they shook hands.
And that handshake was better than a written contract.
So they went ahead and did it.
More than twice the size of the 707, with room for over 400 passengers,
the 747 began service in January 1970,
changing the nature of air travel for ever.
The 747, until Airbus built the A380,
was the biggest aircraft ever built.
And if you think it was designed in the '60s, it was really ahead of its time.
It was a very jumbo jet.
I can remember landing on a 707,
and seeing out of the window this 747 in front of the hangar.
Just the one thought I had
was how was this aircraft ever going to get off the ground?!
I couldn't believe that it would fly. It was so vast.
When I first walked on that airplane I said, "Wow, this is big!"
Nobody could really understand the size of this aeroplane.
The 747's debut was accompanied by a series of promotional tours
to allow a curious public to check out the aircraft for themselves.
This aeroplane always got large crowds of people.
Didn't matter any country you went into.
Everybody from miles around, suddenly,
"Hey, here's something we can see, we can go and see inside this magnificent aeroplane."
There's swarms, hundreds of people coming towards the aeroplane.
There was a guy with a broken leg hobbling up the stairs,
just walked to the aeroplane with a broken leg on crutches.
# Riding along on this big old jet plane
# I've been thinking about my home. #
The 747 may have been a hit with the public
but for crews it took some getting used to.
We used to say it was like flying a building,
at least when we first started flying the 747.
You sat way up high, so far off the ground you had no depth perception.
I mean, it was really a bigger plane but, you know,
you put the power on that airplane, you took off like a scalded dog.
It was such a huge difference.
Here we have this massive aeroplane. We just didn't know where to start.
It was absolutely chaotic.
It was a nightmare. It was just a nightmare.
We had all these cards and flow charts that didn't make any sense.
I had been used to working on one aisle on the 707
with maximum 20-odd passengers in first class.
I can't believe I bid to fly this thing for a whole month.
I would have killed to get out of it.
And there were passengers to the back, passengers to each side
and then passengers in front of me,
and we had two galleys to work out of.
We had to cook everything and I decided at one point
I can never have another dinner party unless we have 300 people.
That's the only way I knew how to cook.
It was just a matter of masses of people
and totally different procedures that we weren't used to.
With the amount of passengers that we were carrying,
we could not continue with the same mindset
as we had in the past to deliver service.
If you're catering for more people, you can't afford to give them
a level of service that makes the ticket too expensive
because fewer of them are willing to pay for it.
Trippe had this idea of an everyman airplane.
The everyman airplane ultimately turned out to be the 747.
All of a sudden, instead of people in coats and ties
and dressed as if they're going to dinner in Park Avenue,
they show up in backpacks and flip-flops and pay very low fares.
This was a revolution in the airline business. Not all for the good in some people's opinion.
In the year the 747 was introduced,
Pan Am carried 11 million passengers some 20 billion miles worldwide
and employed more than 19,000 people in 62 countries.
Pan American was really an extension of the United States.
Pan Am actually had a campaign where they said,
"If you fly with Pan Am, it's like Uncle Sam is your pilot."
Passengers or people generally,
rather than going to the American embassy or consulate,
would go to the Pan American office.
We were always taught,
"You are the face of America and you are in the front line."
Coming from Cuba, when it came time for my family to leave in 1960,
my parents booked us on Pan American
because once you set foot aboard that airplane,
you were on US territory.
I am sitting here speaking to you in fluent English
because on November 9th, 1960,
my family got aboard a Pan Am plane and they didn't take us off.
Throughout the 1960s and '70s,
Pan Am regularly acted on behalf of the US Government.
It operated and maintained a missile range for the US Air Force,
was rumoured to have cooperated with the CIA,
and flew numerous missions to West Berlin during the Cold War,
transporting passengers and supplies
when the city was surrounded by soviet-controlled East Germany.
For Berliners, this was their only avenue, their only connection
with the Western world, so what we did was vitally important.
Everybody had the sense of fulfilling a mission.
Pan Am also played an important role in the Vietnam War, conducting
more flights to the war-torn country than any other commercial airline.
Most of what we did was haul the troops back and forth.
For a lot of us, it was an emotional thing because
we knew a lot of them weren't coming back, at least as passengers.
We actually flew over Vietnam, where the bombers were just underneath us.
So they would light up a village
and you could see that from the aircraft in the cockpit,
and then bomb the village.
Not a good feeling in the cockpit. I remember how the engineer got really quite, you know.
Perhaps Pan Am's most significant mission during the Vietnam conflict
involved the evacuation of hundreds of orphaned children
at the end of the war.
These planes were just packed with kids.
There were babies strapped to the seats.
There were babies in boxes under the seats.
There were babies in the bathroom.
You landed at the airport and they would just run on board
and you'd fill it up to the gills.
Pan Am was big in the 1970s. Too big, in fact.
The world was changing fast and the airline's size was slowing it down.
REPORTER: The American airlines are in serious financial trouble,
and Pan Am is the worst.
In 1966, Pan Am made a record profit of 86 million.
In the first six months of this year, they've lost nearly 33 million.
Even its crowning achievement - the revolutionary 747 -
was turning into a Frankenstein's monster.
Unfortunately, we had a recession, a spike in oil prices,
and those huge planes carried 400 people -
they went out practically empty.
Of course, this was losing money.
Unless you fill the plane to about 70% capacity,
you go bust, you have a problem.
Especially if the plane is as big as a 747.
So, it appears that they over-expanded at the wrong time.
Pan Am was like a big, beautiful, flying dinosaur.
And as the environment changed, the dinosaur didn't adapt.
It really happened after Mr Trippe retired,
there's no argument about that.
Other people took over, CEOs, we had various ones.
None of them could ever reach his stature.
Throughout the '70s and into the '80s,
Pan Am continued to expand its international service.
But there was one country that had always been out of their reach.
Government regulations had prevented Pan Am from operating routes within the US.
When those regulations were lifted, Pan Am, in an effort to access the domestic market,
bought up National Airlines at the cost of 400 million.
It was a move that would cripple the company.
They paid too much for it, the integration to Pan Am was mismanaged,
there were a lot of reasons why it didn't work,
but the bottom line was it plunged Pan Am close to bankruptcy.
They just kept losing money and losing money
and selling off like the hotel company and the Pacific routes.
An airline can fly without a building in New York
or the missile range or hotel chain,
but to give up the ocean that they pioneered -
Pan Am's legacy - we knew that was the beginning of the end.
Pressures outside the US were also taking their toll.
Pan Am's reputation as the flagship US carrier was turning it into a target.
REPORTER: Good evening. The hijacking of an American jumbo jet...
VOICES OF NEW REPORTERS
The gunmen began firing indiscriminately inside the plane...
A series of terrorist attacks in the 1970s and '80s
further damaged Pan Am's reputation.
But the final blow came in December 1988,
when Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York
exploded midair over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
The effect of that was so calamitous
that the airline could never recover from it.
Every night the news would start with the same image
of the nose of this Clipper, Maid Of The Seas, blue and white,
very clearly Pan Am, destroyed airplane.
Passengers didn't fly on Pan Am because of all the publicity,
and then it just became impossible for them to operate, I guess.
Pan Am with its big American flag on the tail,
now is dangerous to your health.
In January 1991,
the airline that had once ruled the skies declared bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, we simply did not have the financial strength
to absorb the enormously adverse impact of these external events.
I was down in the courthouse at the bankruptcy hearings
when United was bidding for the routes and all -
oh, it was so painful.
And I'm really glad that Mr Trippe didn't live to see that -
he died in '81, and Pan Am closed its doors December 4, '91.
MUSIC: "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul and Mary
The last flight, huge emotion.
Desperate time for us all, and it was the end of an era.
Everybody was watching to wave the aeroplane off.
Every single employee from Pan Am was on the ground in London
to see that aircraft take off...
The fire brigade did the arcs
so the aeroplane went through the water jets...
..and the aircraft took off, went around
and did a flyover Heathrow Airport, dipping its wings,
and then disappeared into the air.
# I'm leavin' on a jet plane
# I don't know when I'll be back again... #
And then at that moment it was the final goodbye,
so I still get quite touched about it, because it was very, very emotional.
It was very sad for all of us.
I can remember just bursting into tears.
Bursting into tears - it was a loss of one's life.
Just cried my eyes out.
And I think a lot of other people did, too, you know.
It was a funeral, you know.
It was very emotional.
# So kiss me and smile for me
# Tell me that you'll wait for me
# Hold me like you'll never let me go... #
For over half a century, Pan Am led the world in commercial air travel.
Thanks to the vision of its founder, Juan Trippe,
the airline brought glamour, luxury and innovation to the skyways
and inspired generations to travel and explore new worlds.
It shrank the globe and shaped our dreams and aspirations,
leaving behind an unforgettable legacy.
Pan American was much more than a job - Pan American was a family.
MUSIC: "Mr Blue Sky" by ELO
Just to say that you worked for Pan Am was an honour,
because wherever you went in the world you would see the Pan Am blue ball.
Pan Am was there first, Pan Am was the innovator, and should be remembered as that.
In every aspect of commercial aviation, they were considered the best.
It was an airline like no other.
And there never will be any other airline like Pan Am.
A lot of people, you can go around the world now
on a two-week vacation.
And it's affordable.
And a lot of people do.
So, it was worth it.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain again.
It was a pleasure to have you aboard our jet Clipper.
We hope to have you with us again soon. Thank you.
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