The Flying Boat Airliner

The flying boat airliner dominated international airline service in the 1920s and 1930s.

Although aerodynamically less efficient than streamlined landplanes, flying boats could provide scheduled passenger service to any city with a sheltered harbor, which made them the ideal international airliner at a time when runways capable of handling large aircraft were scarce.

b-314-cutaway-interior

The Pan Am Clippers

The most famous flying boat airliners were the Pan Am Clippers, and the era of the flying boat reached its height with the luxurious Boeing B-314 Clipper, with which Pan American Airways inaugurated the first scheduled transatlantic airline service between Europe and America in 1939.

Pan Am’s leader, Juan Trippe, decided to call his flying boats “clippers” as part of his effort to link his airliner with the maritime heritage of the ocean liners with which Pan Am was in competition, and with which the public were so comfortable.

Sikorsky S-40

Sikorsky S-40

Sikorsky S-40

The first Pan American plane to be called a “Clipper” was the Sikorsky S-40 flying boat, introduced in 1931.  The S-40 helped Pan Am spread its wings in Latin American, but it was a relatively primitive machine which never fully satisfied the needs of the airline.

Sikorsky S-42

Sikorsky S-42

Sikorsky S-42

The streamlined Sikorsky S-42 was a giant leap forward in flying boat technology.  The S-42 was used extensively on Pan Am’s Latin American network and made pioneering survey flights to develop Pan Am’s routes across the Pacific.

Martin M-130

Martin M-130

Martin M-130

Pan American’s famous China Clipper, a Martin M-130 flying boat, inaugurated the first regularly scheduled passenger and mail across the Pacific in November, 1935.

Boeing B-314

Boeing B-314

Boeing B-314

The apex of flying boat design was the Boeing B-314, introduced in 1939. Sometimes known as the Yankee Clipper or Dixie Clipper type, the luxurious B-314 provided the first scheduled heavier-than-air passenger service across the Atlantic ocean.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Larrabee July 15, 2014 at 11:55 am

I remember an old black and white flim from maybe the 20s -40s about someone starting a flying boat service out of florida, I’ve always wanted to see that film again. Can you tell me the name of that film? I thought that since you people love Flying Boats maybe you knew of it.

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Charles Parker October 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Trying to identify this large 2′ x 3′ publicity photo of a Pan Am Clipper flying over a 19th c clipper ship at anchor in front of a shipwreck with palm trees /island to the left. It’s a a Siskorsky S42 and the Pan Am logo is much further toward the nose than the other examples I’ve seen. It is in it’s original 1930′s frame. I’ve not opened it yet to look for the printer. It is a half tone from the original photo. I have a pic but can’t figure out how to post. Many thanks.

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Gary Lizak Reply:

Dinner Key Auditorium Coral Gables now used as City Of Miami City Hall was the original Pan Am Seaplane Hangar in the 40s

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John L. Hitchcock June 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I have a photograph of the Pan Am crew taken by my father in the late 1930′s. It was taken on the Western Union Telegraph Company property, Horta, Faial, Azores where the crew used to stay during lay-over while crossing the Atlantic. Horta was the mid-way re-fueling point between the UK and America.

John Hitchcock (johnhitchcock@shaw.ca)

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Tom Kewin May 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Bob Stubbs was hired as a Flight Engineer at Treasure Island shortly after I was in March, 1943. When he started a foundation to restore the Boeing Stratoliner I was his Vice-President. Last address I have for Bob is; 1700 10th St, Anacortes, WA, 98221

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Bob McCrory May 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Just a Memorial Note that Miller Logan went to his reward April 1, 2012.. Had a long PA career from Africa Limited, L-49 Constellation shakedown operation, Chief Mech London, Supt Line Maintenance Atlantic and Executive. Rest in Peace, Good Friend.

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Robert Wilson Jr. April 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm

My father Robert C. Wilson Sr. flew as navigator and radio operator during the war years for Pan Am. He flew on the Sikorskys out of Dinner Key and also taught Celestial Navigation and code. I still have in my possession one of the study books that he wrote on Celestial Navigation and a large star chart that was handed out to each student. My father plotted the stars on the chart and my mother drew in the constellation graphics. My dad died in 2002 and I wish I had spent more time talking about the amazing times he must have had flying the Caribbean and South American routes for PAA.

Bob Wilson Jr.

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Meg Dondero Reply:

I’m guessing your dad and mine (Ralph Conly, FRO, 1940-50) knew each other(?)=)…Dad flew with the Africa-Orient Division (Air Transport Command) during WW2, and (I’m sure, like your dad) didn’t get ‘recognition’ for being a part of the U.S. military until the 90s. I also wish I’d spent more time talking about he PAA days w/Dad (he died in May ’10), but I’m thankful for the times we did talk about it…and I have Lots of files/papers of his (incl. letters from x-FRO’s) to look thru still, that Dad collected for decades (intending to ‘write a book’ someday ;p) (I hope to get to those this year, but it’s a bit ‘slow-going,’ as I don’t live as close to home, and only get there once/twice a month….) Dad’s fondest memories of his Life were his PAA days….I wish I had appreciated those days more when I was younger! ;) (If you want to write, you can contact me either thru email (nutmeg13@myfam.com) or Facebook (“Meg Dondero (Meg Conly)”).)
All the Best,
Meg (Conly) Dondero

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Don Whitehead March 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

In the UK the Short Bros “Empire Boats” of Imperial airways operated from Southampton or Poole Harbour to Cairo via Italy, then on to Karachi Calcutta Singapore where the Australian airline QANTAS took over. The other routes were down through East Africa to Johannesburg. There was a landplane line which flew from the Sudan to Nigeria and the Gold Coast[now Ghana]

South America was served by the Dornier flying boats of Lufthansa. During the war the line operated from Cairo. The Sudan branch became a route for supplying aircraft to the RAF desert airforce in N. Africa. While the Australia route was cut by the Japanese invasion of SE Asia.

The empire boats were the basis of the RAF Sunderland 4 engined maritime patrol boat of WW2,which stayed in service until 1959. A post war Civilian development was the Solent.

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mark bpmd March 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

My father, Donadl D. Bond, joined Pan American in late 1944 and flew the Boeing 314s out of Treasure Island SFO. He was transfered to New York early in his career and retired as Captain on 747s in 1979. He now lives in Pheonix AZ. Not long after his recent move to an independent living facility another Pan American pilot moved in, Captain Ray Conn. Ray began with Pan American in 1943 and flew Clippers out of SFO. The two have become fast friends, discovering that they were both junior crew on the last Pan American flight to remove company people out of Shanghi China with the Communists just 20 miles from the airport. Don was a junior crew member on a DC 4 flight from Puerto Rico to NY during a severe nighttime thunderstorm on which the first baby to be born in flight happened. I have sat and listened to their stories with endless facination and envy for two men who lived exciting, fullfilling lives doing what they loved to do for a company they loved to work for. At 92 and 95, they are still vibrant individuals and would love to hear from anyone who remembers them. You can contact me to reach either of them.

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Tom Kewin Reply:

Give Don my best regards. We flew together many times, including the last flight of a PAA flying boat in April of 1946. Tom Kewin

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Robert McCrory February 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I date in PA 1943-80, M-130 to 747. Started in maintenance, Treasure Island SFO, Hawaii Pearl City to NAS-HNL for a year. Xfer to NY Atlantic Div ’45, to Africa Belgian Congo ’46, Germany ’47-’49, Africa again ’50, Istanbul ’52, NY ’52(hepatitis), Then 20 years as Airline Maint Inspector, traveled 100days/yr outside US, later a PA bureaucrat, retired 9/’80.

Never saw in the above mention that PA Pacific people were in the US Navy on inactive status, PA operating 15 4 engine PB2Y3R US Navy flying boats from San Francisco to Honolulu to Austraiia and 7 two engine PBM-3Rs based Honolulu flying South. In my time I worked on and flew on a lot of great airplanes and met, knew and worked with a lot of great people – and saw more of the world than most people – via Pan Am.

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Tom Kewin Reply:

Bob, (the golden egg?) I was an FEO from early ’43 to ’83. Weren’t you in Barcelona in 1951, or 1952? I have a story to tell you…

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Bob McCrory Reply:

Tom Kewin,
I remember you as a Rocket Ranger at Pearl City. I don’t think we have met since but I have seen you in pix a time or two as well as other refs. I was in the Accessory Shop at P.C. & later to Keehee Lagoon, later NAS HNL.

I was in BCN for a few weeks doing vacation relief Oct-Nov ’50. Had just got married in Nice and we then went to ACC, LEO & DKR for a year, 10 months of it in LEO. Still married and both in good health.

Glad to hear from you. Tell me more. Bob M

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Tom Kewin Reply:

Between Nice and Barcelona # 3 engine started running rough and lost a bit of power. The analyzer showed a dead short on one of the cylinders, which meant it probably had a piston land failure and the bits of aluminum hammered the plug points closed. I feathered the engine and radioed ahead that we would need a cylinder replacement. You did the job overnight and we forged on to Lisbon the next morning.
A few weeks later I got a note from Jim Etchison, the Chief F.E. in LGA. He asked me to see him when convenient. He asked me about the Barcelona incident and told me what he would have done if he was in my place. He would have checked that the cylinder still had compression, then he would have hammered the plug points closed, put the plugs back in and taken the airplane on to Lisbon. And he would have suggested you make a phone call to the Chief Mechanic in LIS and warn him that he would have a cylinder change that day. A low gross weight take-off with a slight loss of power on one engine wouldn’t be a problem. He added he knew that was not the way we were trained in the Pacific Division, so he was not faulted me. I thought about a few minutes and said that he was right – that is what I should have done. Two years later he made me an Assistant chief!

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Bob McCrory Reply:

Beats me. I do recall changing a cylinder in BCN but that’s about all. I did my share of ‘expedient’ fixes. One a few weeks before in Stuttgart, DC4, Nbr 3 dropped a valve, punched a neat hole in the piston. I got up a neat piece out just sitting ready to drop into the sump. Didn’t look like any missing material. I changed the cyl, ran it up twice and didn’t get any fine stuff in the screen & cleared the aircraft. Phoned ahead to Munich & Vienna to check sumps & screen. Airplane finished its yo-yo from LON-VIE till it built up time for a NY service. Best, Mac (as I was know in prehistoric times)

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Tom Kewin Reply:

Mac; Give me a mail address and I will send you my book.

Bob McCrory Reply:

R.H. McCrory, PO Box 1383, Ardmore, OK 73402. If you will include your email address I’ll upload my memoir, too big for here – some 900 KB without its pix. Small world – that paths cross after a lifetime.

Tom Kewin Reply:

You can reach me at (thkewin@comcast.net) I will send you a book today.

Larry Roberts December 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Good site. Glad to hear of it… Keep up the good work. Ref the Boeing 307 at the Dulles Annex of the National Air and Space Museum. My dad’s photo album has a print showing that aircraft, signed by all crew members (including him as the FRO – Edmund L. Roberts) on a trip to Rio in 1940.

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Meg Dondero Reply:

I’m pretty sure my dad has the same photo w/signatures…He was a FRO from 1940 to 1950, as well. :-)

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Max Pin November 30, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Does anyone have or know where I can get measurements, detailed graphics or scale drawing of the interior conpartments of the B-314? thanks

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JIM ROBERTSON October 17, 2011 at 9:25 am

GREAT PICS.

I’M FORMER EASTERN AIR LINES AND AIR FORCE. NEVER FLOWN A SEA PLANE.

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ROSIE ROSENSTEIN October 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm

ONE HAS TO VISIT THE FLYING BOAT MUSEUM IN FOYNES IRELAND. THERE IS MUCH HISTORY TO BE SEEN THERE.
ROSIE ROSENSTEIN
PAN AM 1958-1991

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Orr Kelly July 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

When I was a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle in the 50′s, the photographers told me how they always went to Treasure Island to photograph the passengers on Pan Am Clippers heading across the Pacific. The passengers thought they were going to get their pictures in the paper–and they were, but only if the plane didn’t make it. Orr.

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Jean Fallon Reply:

Mr. Kelly,
My father Al Fallon from the Bay Area flew for different airlines in Congo, Central America, Congo etc..he died in an instrument landing in 1964. Our family is trying to find out anything at all about the 1950′s when he was flying there and elsewhere…would you happen to know any resources? Thank you so much. Jean

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Gabe Brady June 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I am writing an article about Wake Island and would like to know if anyone knows the name of the Pam Am station manager’s wife who departed shortly before the attack. The station manager’s name was John B. Cooke. Prior to being ordered to leave there were only 2 women on the island; Cooke’s wife & Dan Teeter’s wife. Dan was in charge of construction.

Thanks

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Brent Scott Reply:

Found this web site researching the specific planes that would have flown into Wake Island, December, 1941.

My Grandfather, Allan A. O’Guinn was a civilian plumber under contract with the Morrison and Knudsen Construction Company (not sure of the proper name and spelling) Construction Company. He was working on the Pan American Hotel on the Island. He was captured and spent the entire war in prison camps in Japan and China. My mother, Helen Marguerite O’Guinn wrote an account of his life and times through those years.

I don’t know what help I could be to you in your search but I wanted you to know another person out there who has history and knowledge of that Island and the events beginning in 1941.

I have the book “The Story of Wake Island” by Devereux and “Riding the Reef” by Voortmeyer and Nickisher, two books about that island before and during WW2.

My Grandfather came back to be somewhat of a surrogate father to me, teaching me wood carving which was the basis for my subsequent study and practice as a sculptor and also a living example of compassion for all life as this was his response to the difficult times he experienced from December 8th (Pacific Date Line) 1941 until his liberation August 30, 1945 on a small island off of Omari, Japan where “camp 1” was located.

Brent Scott

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Sam Bassett Reply:

Mrs. Cooke’s name was Izelle (sp?)

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Richard Leverich Reply:

Is there anyone out there that can lead me to a photograph of the Yankee Clipper…preferable with a background that can be regognized as NY?
Thanks

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Ramona Ojeda May 11, 2011 at 4:52 am

Meg Dondero: I saw your e-mail about Bob Stubbs and wanted to know if he was still alive and Where he lives. met you once. Sorry can’t remember. Where or when. I think it was Mill Valley. I live in Carmichael, Ca 95608. We are about 20 minutes from the Capitol.. Anyhow, my brother told me about this web site and he is eggar to find out if this is the same Bob Stubbs that we knew in 1942. My Mom’s name Was Mary Jane Ojeda. My father was killed and she had to go to work just after having my brother. She worked at United Air Lines driving staff car for all the big Generals etc; they would fly in from different places and she would take them most of the time to San Francisco. She remarried and her last name is “Martini”. I sure hope you can give us some information about Bob Stubbs . My mom passed away in December of 2006 we miss her very much. Our step-father is still alive and lives in their beautiful home close to the beach and Airport. Well I’m rambling so I should sign off. Hope to heaar from you.
Sincere.y Ramona Ojeda (Midge)

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Tom Kewin Reply:

The current address for Bob Stubbs is 1700 10th St, anacortes, WA 98221. I don’t have a phone number. Tom Kewin

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Eric Niderost April 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I am Eric Niderost, with a strong interest in the clippers. Just interviewed Bud Zahner, Pan Am pilot and “supernumerary” on many flights from 1943-45 with the Naval Air Transport. Bud was great–but in his 90s, and forgot details. I’m hoping someone can ‘fill in the blanks” for me. For example– why were the Martins and Boeing 314s only used on the first leg of the journey– from alameda, ca to hawaii? After Hawaii, what was the route they took? (I know ultimate destination was Brisbane, aust.) what cargo and personnel did they take? Also, an old, old clipping states00but with no other detail–that Bud “was in the last Flying Boat (Pan am)flight from New York to San Francisco, via Corpus Christi?” When was threy flight specifically? What was the equipment? name of plane? And did flying boats really go over land?(had to, if going to SF) thnaks so much

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Jamie Dodson Reply:

Eric, I have some large China Clipper Route Map jpgs you can download for free here: http://www.nickgrantadventures.com/Route_Maps_Frames.htm. Courtesy of John Hill at the SFO Aviation Museum. Contact me for route maps to NZ.

Cheers! Jamie

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eric Reply:

Yes, thanks, I liked those maps–but they don’t follow what I’m after– the Naval Air Transport Routes!!

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Jamie Dodson Reply:

Ahhh … I’ll see what I can dig up. I love a challenge.

Cheers!
Jamie

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Ed Dover Reply:

Eric: I was a FRO for Pan Am on those NATS routes from Honolulu to Brisbane. We flew either the Consolidated PB2Y3 or the Martin Mariner PBM. The route was from Honolulu to Palmyra Island, Canton, Suva, Noumea and Brisbane. Also some alternate routes to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands (now Kiribati) and Espiritu Santos (now Vanuatu). I did some temporary ground duty as radio operator at Pearl City, Noumea, Funafuti and Espiritu Santos. The B314s and the Martin M130s were limited to flying between Honolulu and San Francisco, with an alternate route via San Pedro to Honolulu. I do not know why they were not used on the South Pacific routes, but my best guess is that, due to the limited number of them, Pan Am wished to save them for future post war use and did not want them exposed to the more dangerous routes close to the war zones of the South Pacific. Ed Dover

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eric Reply:

So, tell me about your shanghai book. I’m something of a Shanghai historian–have written many, many articles on the Fourth marines, International Settlement, etc… do you have an agent? How are you getting published? I have a shanghai novel that is as yet unpublished (NO competition with you–entirely different theme and focus–though of the same period)
thanks– e mail me!

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Jamie Dodson Reply:

Eric,
Mission: Shanghai is the third Nick Grant Adventure novel. Set in 1936, seventeen year old Nick works for Pan Am part time, dreams of attending college and becoming an aeronaughtical engineer. However, Japanese agent Miyazaki has sworn revenge on Nick and his family for interfearing with Japan’s plans for Pacific domination. Miyazki lures Nick to Shanghai in an attempt to dispose of him once and for all.

I don’t have an agent as I’m a part time author. I found a publisher by researching house that had a track record in my genre. I composed. A query letter and spent a $25.00 on postage. After a year of searching, I sold my first manual script.

Perhaps we should take this discussion off line as it’s off topic. Please contact me through my website for more detail.
Cheers! Jamie

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Ron Parsons Reply:

Jamie,
No adventure book about China – Japan in the 1930′s would be complete until you read about the case of the Sorge Spy ring (Target Tokyo being only one book of many). My dad was on the Bataan Death March and a POW of the Japanese ending up in Mukden, Sian, Harbin, China. He was freed by Russians in August 1945. His camp of POW’s was experimented on through Unit 731.
When I was on Corregidor the 4th Marines had a bunker near one of the gun emplacements that was interesting, a Marine logo I’d never seen before was on the wall.
I am also writing a fictional account baswed on fact about Unit 731 and that era. I plan on identifying the Pan-Am China Clipper in it.

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Jamie Dodson Reply:

Ron,

I am familiar with Sorge. We learned in Intel 101 that he correctly identified the NAZI Operation Barbarossa in the spring of ’41. He had dates, order of battle, times and commanding officers. However, Stalin refused to believe the evidence because of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Guest Stalin never read “Mein Kampf.”

I am also familiar with Unit 731. Sounds like your writing a great historical fiction novel. I’ve meet about ten BMDM survivors when I led a team to 2d place in the BMDM memorial 40k ruck march in 1996.

Let me know if you need help with the Clippers names crews and passengers.

Cheers! Jamie

Ron Parsons Reply:

Thank you
When in Manchuria I met Hal Leith from Golden, CO. He was the OSS agent that parachuted into my dad’s POW compound at Mukden the last day of the war. Hal’s amazing. He speaks 6 languages fluently: Japanese, Russian, Chinese, German, French and English.
When we were there he taught the college kids at Shenyang University how to write Mandarin the old way, pre Mao.
Thank you. If I have any Clipper questions I’ll definitely inquire.

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Don Bansen Reply:

Hi Eric -
I worked in maintenance for Pan Am from 1940 to 1980 at La Guardia and later at JFK. I was a mechanic on the flying boats and did rigging of the flight controls. In 1943 I went in the Navy and at one point was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Air Station where we overhauled PBM’s. I flew as a Flt. Engr. on two deliveries. One to Corpus Christy, Texas and the other to South San Francisco, all over land except the last leg from San Diego to SFO. On the SFO flight we landed at Eagle Mountain Lake in Texas (never could find it on a map later.) However, I don’t remember any of Pan Am clippers flying from NY to Seattle. Of course they flew the other way when they were delivered so it was possible.

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Larry Roberts Reply:

Ref the question about Martin and Boeing flying boats only being used as far as Hawaii. I have several reference books that say they went all the way to Manila on the original transPacific routes. The southern route to New Zealand and Australia was route-proven by the S-42Bs but the Boeings in particular were used once regular traffic commenced. In fact, the noted round-the-world trip by Capt Ford came about when the Boeing clipper was diverted west from New Zealand when it was deemed too dangerous to return to Hawaii after the Pearl Harbor attack. (By the way, my Pan Am interest comes from my dad’s Flight Radio Officer time in S. America in 1940s and early 50s.)

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Jim Martini April 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

When I was a child living near San Francisco with my widowed mother, two sisters and grandmother I remember that our family would host a Pan American crew member by the name of Bob Stubbs. Although we lost touch with Bob he was often part of our family’s fond memories. Can any one tell me how I can contact Bob or his family. As a point of clarification, our family name was Ojeda, it was changed when my mother remarried.

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john ernest gray Reply:

would like a photo of your flying boat as i make models from balsa wood and can cooy it hanks john

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Janet R April 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I have a 20″ x 24″ black and white photo copy of a Pan American Clipper. It has one significant tear on one edge, barely cutting into the picture itself. On the bottom right hand side it says:
PAN AMERICAN CLIPPER
PASSING THROUGH GOLDEN GATE
ON INITIAL FLIGHT
TO HONOLULU
APRIL 16, 1935
I am not positive it is a numeral 6 on the date,
Anyone interested? I can e-mail a photo.
Janet R

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ELMER HARBRON Reply:

JANET

WOULD APPRECIATE VERY MUCH A PHOTO OF THE M-130.

I AM 82 YEARS OLD, SO I GREW UP IN THAT ERA AND HAVE ALWAYS HAD AN INTEREST IN FLYING BOATS.

I FLY AS A MISSION OBSERVER WITH THE CIVIL AIR PATROL SO I STILL HAVE AN ACTIVE INTEREST IN AVIATION.

LET ME KNOW WHAT THE POSTAGE IS AND I’LL REIMBURSE YOU.

THANKS,

ELMER HARBRON
815 N. LAWN AVE.
HAMILTON, OHIO 45013

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Janet R Reply:

Hi Elmer,
Do you have an e-mail address? I can e-mail a photo, but right now I also have an inquiry into the Golden Gate Museum to see if they may be interested as well. I will keep your address and let you know what comes about in a few days or so. To be honest I was hoping to sell it, but if that doesn’t happen, then you will be the first on my list to contact! Thank you so much for replying. This picture was in my late father in laws’ possessions.
Sincerely,
Janet

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ELMER HARBRON Reply:

JANET

THANK YOU FOR REPLYING TO MY INQUIRY.

MY E MAIL ADDRESS IS
EHARBRON@CINCI.RR.COM

IF YOU ARE NOT SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR EFFORTS LET ME KNOW WHAT PRICE FIGURE YOU HAVE IN MIND.
BE SURE TO ESTABLISH THE RIGHT PRICE BEFORE YOU MAKE A MOVE . I’M NOT A COLLECTOR BUT YOU MAY HAVE SOMETHING OF REAL VALUE TO A COLLECTOR. THANKS FOR GIVING ME FIRST DIBS.

ELMER

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Betsey Casey Reply:

I have Pan Am Clipper posters about 11 x 13 (framed by Robinson’s Galleries, Miami
Wings over the arctic
Wings of a good neighbor
Wings over Africa
Wings over the Pacific

Different type containing all of the following type:
Pan American Airways – wings of democracy
Routes of the Flying Clipper Ships (Globe as of December 7, 1941-subsequent war time changes censored)

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Suzy Reply:

Hi Janet,

I recently acquired the exact same photo that has the same info at the bottom right hand side of the photo. The date at the bottom is April 16, 1935. I’m curious to see if you had any luck with the museum???

Suzy

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Janet R Reply:

Hi Suzy,
Wow, how neat you have the same shot! I haven’t heard from the museum, but I did hear from another Pan Am buff that said the the photo copy was most likely produced for PR purposes. He said this plane was a Sikorsky S-42 used for survey flights before the real service began with Martin M-130 flying boats in November 1935. He said the Sikorsky didn’t have the range for pacific flights and was used in South America. He had no idea of it’s value. I have been busy, so haven’t been doing any searching about the photo lately. If you come up with anything be sure and let me know! I will do the same. Be interesting to find out more about it, and just how many of these shots are still in existence.
Thanks for writing,
Janet

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Suzy Reply:

Very interesting stuff! I’ll let you know what I come up with :-)

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Greg Bishop Reply:

Hello Janet,

I would love to see a copy of your photo… tear and all!
I love them for how they conjure-up tropical island scenes,
and Indianna Jones’ adventure!

Greg

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Janet R Reply:

Hi Greg..
E-mail me at amigazhorses and I’ll e-mail you a photo. I believe I took a picture of it and saved it on my computer…if not I will do that and send it to you..it’s a pretty awesome picture…hate to see it rolled up in the closet. Haven’t been doing any checking on it lately, so just haven’t quite decided what to do with it..
Thanks,
Janet

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Jamie Dodson Reply:

Janet,

I’d love a copy. THX.

Jamie

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mabosa ritchie Reply:

I would love to see it, thanks, mabosa.

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Bob Ibanez March 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I was born in Lima Peru on June 21, 1945. My Dad, Hank Ibanez, was a dispatcher/weatherman for PAA based out of Cali, Columbia. PAA transfered my dad and his family shortly before June of 1945 to Lima, Peru in order that I could be born in Lima. Later they returned to Cali. A few years after I was born they transfered my dad back to the Florida.

My parents both told me that as a baby I flew on PAA’s “Flying Boats” or “Clippers” Does anyone know what type of Flying Boat or Clipper I would have flown on and what stops I might have made along the way back to the US?

Thank you,
Bob Ibanez, Retired TWA Captain

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Wendy March 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I am also reading ‘Night Over Water’-fascinating learning about the style of the aircraft and the luxurious interior comfort. Makes the squashed, battery-chicken manner of todays aircraft look really bad!

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Patti Reply:

I just finished Robert Ludlum’s ‘Night Over Water’. It was a fantastic book, and really piqued my interest in flying boats.

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Sid loving March 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Does anyone know of flying boat tour out and around. The bahama called
Captain johns around the sixties? The pilot was John Martin? Reply..jsidl@hotmail.com

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Ernie Lingren February 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I have a print of a Boeing 314 at harbor in Pearl dated Dec. 1939. I believe that this is the same aircraft flown by Ford, who was told to take the long way around to NY after the hostilities broke out with the Japanese. (youtube The Pacific Boeing 314 Yankee Clipper.

I am a retired Continental Pilot and I have this picture in my Den which I enjoy looking at and thinking of what it must have been like to have flown during this period of aviation.
Ernie Lingren

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Don Bansen Reply:

Hi Ernie -
The clipper that Capt. Ford flew around the world was not the Yankee Clipper because it only operated across the Atlantic. I was a mechanic at the Marine Terminal at La Guardia Field when Capt. Ford landed in Bowery Bay and I couldn’t believe the way the plane looked – dirty, no flags (they had been obliterated for safety) oil streaks, etc. We weren’t expecting it because they had kept radio silence. I later learned about its remarkable flight from a book “The Long Way Home” by Ed Dover.

[Reply]

Ernie Lingren Reply:

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the info. I am presently in Tortola BVI for 6 months, so I can’t confirm the tail number on my big print. I feel certain that the last two digits were 02. Surely there is a record out there somewhere about that beautiful bird. How I would have loved to have flown one during that period.

Ernie Lingren

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Max Pin Reply:

The flying boat flown by Captain Robert Ford had the tail number: NC18602.
If you liked the book Night over water, there is the factual account of the whole flight written in documentary style by Ed Dover and titled ‘The Long Way Home’

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dave fenery Reply:

is this the ernie i went to alaska with?

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Ernie Lingren Reply:

I am if you went fishing with cantanchous old Don out of Gig Harbor. There was 6-7 of us that flew out to Kafognak (or something like that) on a float plane out of Kodiac. Had a most excellent trip.

Is that you?

Ernie

[Reply]

dave fenery Reply:

Hi Ernie
I ran accross a letter you wrote me back in 1995, it got me thinking of you so I ran a google and found a comment you made abput that clipper plane,anyway it’s nice to know your still kicking, last time i was in washington was for Don’s funeral I did the Ulogy (spelling??) that was the best I could do to make up with the old grump,(I say that with affection)
Email me if youd like djf29@live.com Dave

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Ron M January 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Night over water by Follet was good! I remember reading a long time ago another novel involving clippers. Flight statrter in South Africa ending in New York via England. I beleive some crackpot was trying to shoot it down over New England. Anybody know the name and author????

[Reply]

Max Pin Reply:

Night over water by Ken Follett its still in print and on sale.

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Trevor Lewis Reply:

Ron,
I think the book you could be referring to is “Imperial 109″
by Richard Doyle….the story of one the British Short flying
boats flying from Cape Town up through Eastern Africa,Khartoum
Egypt via the UK and onto the U.S.A.
Do you require more info.
Regards,
Trevor L.
Re

[Reply]

Larry Roberts Reply:

Don’t remember the title or author, but I read that book. The aircraft was actually a British Empire-class flying boat, not a Pan Am clipper. A bit fanciful in that the aircraft purported to be the pursuing aircraft was identified as a modified Supermarine S6B, modified with a couple machine guns. Read somewhere that the S6B was the first aircraft clocked at 400 MPH; it had an early model Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, of Spitfire, Mustang, and Lancaster fame.

[Reply]

Andrew Benison December 27, 2010 at 12:32 am

It’s wonderful to see the interest in this great era of aviation!
I am an Australian journalist, who is researching in my own time for a future book on the Pacific flying boats – covering both the experiences of Pan American and the British – Australian – New Zealand operations.
I have had a generous amount of help from a Pan American flight engineer Tom Kewin in locating former PAA people connected with the flying boats in the Pacific. I am looking forward to talking with these people while visiting the US early in 2011.
I would welcome the help of readers in locating further PAA ‘boat crews’, passengers and families connected with the Pacific flying boat days.

Thanks
Andrew Benison

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Liz Flanagan Reply:

Dear Andrew,

My dad flew the flying boats for Pan Am…as well as 747′s. He is currently 91 and has all sorts of Pan Am memorabilia and memories. Any interest in helping me get his story out?

Liz

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Don Olsen Reply:

Hi Liz,

My uncle flew at the same time as your dad, starting with flying boats and ending on 747′s. Robert “Boo” McCleer from Berkeley, CA was already a pilot when he joined as the youngest ever hire on his 18th birthday. Boo has long since passed but my mom, his sister, still recalls some of his exploits.
Please relay this to your dad in hopes of good memories. Knowing Boo these memories may include a post flight cocktail.

Don

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Charles Frank Reply:

Liz, ask you dad if he remembers a pilot named Charles (Charlie) Marquois (pronounced marquar). He was a friend of my dad’s who lived in CT and also flew Clippers up to 747′s. A wonderful man. He passed away a number of years ago, and I always regret I did not spend more time with him speaking of his experiences.

[Reply]

David Borowiec Reply:

Hi Liz,
I’m a chef working on opening up a restaurant concept based on the romantic period of the Clippers. I lived and worked on Midway Island (one of the stops) and the Caribbean (USVI). The stories from the few still alive to tell would be kept alive in this establishment. I am gathering resources and would be very interested in ALL stories your father has to tell. My phone number is 248-894-9289. I have a facebook page and here is my email address. I hope to hear from you in the future! Thank you. peace, David Borowiec

[Reply]

David Borowiec Reply:

sorry, I didn’t see the email address post so here it is. davidcia78@aol.com Thanks again David Borowiec Culinary Institute of America Graduate 1978.

[Reply]

Meg Dondero Reply:

Hi David,
Just happen to be browsing the clipperflyingboats.com site, again, and saw your post about your restaurant. I can’t promise I’ll get back to you ‘soon’ (I’m a horrible procrastinator);p, but my dad (Ralph Conly) was a FRO for Pan Am from 1940 to 1950–He passed away in May 2010. I’ve got a ‘room full ‘of Pan Am files of his to go thru, still, most of which will probably be donated to the SF Airport Air Museum…But I know he collected letters from retired Flight Radio Operators/Officers for years (and kept-up a PAA retirees mail list for FROs ’til ’07)–He always intended to ‘write a book,’ someday….;p (I remember reading some letters about Midway Island.) I haven’t had time to look at much, yet…(Still going thru all his ‘other’ papers, and I can only get to my mom’s house once/twice a month, so it’s slow-going);p…but, when I Do get to it, I’d be happy to let you know if I find anything ‘interesting’….I just need some ‘friendly reminders’, if you don’t mind…. ;) If you’re interested, send me an email (nutmeg13@myfam.com) or, better yet, send me a message via Facebook (“Meg Dondero (Meg Conly)”), cuz I look at that more than my email. All the best to you and best wishes on the restaurant…. Hmmm…248-?…Are you in the Michigan area?? =)

[Reply]

Don Olsen Reply:

Hi Andrew,

In talking with my mom recently she relayed the story of her brother Clipper Captain Robert “Boo” McCleer being interviewed by the press in Australia many years ago. The interview was read by some of the McCleer clan who have lived Down Under since the 1800′s. With Pan Am’s help they then tracked down their lost relatives in Berkeley. My mom’s family came from the McCleer’s of shipbuilding fame. She still has stories it just takes a while to sort them out but I would be glad to pose questions to her on your behalf.

Don

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Bruce Kennewell Reply:

Andrew,
I have just stumbled across this blog and read your entry.
I am an Australian (in Canberra) and flew aboard TEAL Solents across the Tasman (Rose Bay to Auckland) in 1953 as a boy. During the 1960s I lived close to the Rose Bay flying-boat base. In the 1970s I flew aboard Ansett’s ‘boat (can’t reca,l which one) to Lake Eucumbene & return (Rose Bay) as part of an Aviation Historical Society trip.

If you are interested I can provide personal accounts.

bhk@netspeed.com.au

Regards,
Bruce

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dave wilson December 18, 2010 at 1:25 am

Anyone know if Dean Franklin “Mr. Grumman Goose” is still verticle? I met him and his lovely, much younger wife, circa 96 in miami. He was downsizing and invited me into his office to go hanger flying. He knew my old friend, percival spencer Mr. Sea Bee, and mr. twin beech, Lee Cameron. He must be 100 yrs old now? I was infatuated with gooses but settled for a twin beech. dave wilson, skykingd18@yahoo.com contributing writer to various beech18 web sites

[Reply]

Alan Vale Reply:

Hello Dave,

I remember Dean from the 60s when I flew out of Fort Lauderdale. I went to the Quiet Birdmen website and found out that he died on 2009-03-04.

Sorry for the sad news,

Al Vale

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John Gasparini Reply:

Emil Gasparini (American Airlines retired) is trying to get in touch with Al Vale (Pan Am). His number is 239-945-0204.

John Gasparini
Baltimore Maryland
410-979-4551

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Tom Singfield September 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I am an aviation author. I am finishing a major book on the 100 year history of aviation in Bermuda for publication by the National Museum of Bermuda. Anyone with stories/documents/pictures etc relating to aviation in Bermuda is invited to contact me.
Many thanks
Tom Singfield

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Dominic B. Perello (San Luis Obispo, CA) September 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm

I had nothing to do with Clippers except to watch takeoffs in the San Francisco area when I was a kid and my Dad loved SF with a passion and we went to all the places he thought were more exciting than pick-up baseball games in Santa Barbara! How beautiful they were as they left the water.
After Pearl harbor, I joined the Army Air Corps cadet program and got my first P-38 (F-4a) at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs before I was 19. When we flew our planes for the 23 Photo Recon Sqdn across the southern route (thanks to wonderful Pan Am’s pioneer work in overseas flying), I learned to appreciate what those old flyboys did to prepare the way for us war babies. Good to know there are still some of you with us kids of 86. Enjoy!!!

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Charles Christian September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I remember a M-130 flying over us low just after we passed the new Golden Gate bridge in May 1937 on the Matson liner, Lurline, enroute to Honolulu. I was a kid on the rear upper deck and watched it fly by us on our starboard side. Then I remember the little plane (Piper Cub?) that came up on us slowly and very low from our stern outside of Honolulu and dropped a bundle of newpapers for the passengers to buy and read prior to docking. We still have letters with the China Clipper (Boeing flying boat was just new then) photos on them that were sent from us in Honolulu in 1939 when we still lived in Honolulu prior to our return to Calif to live. My father was Chief Steward on the Matsonia.

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Norbert Vienneau September 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Hi,
I am looking for information about the PanAm Flying Boats routes from North America to Europe in the late 1930′s. These Flying Boats used to stop over for refuel, mail & passengers in Shediac New Brunswick, Canada. The PanAm Warf still exist here in Shediac. During the WWar 2, Holand was under attack and fearing for the life of their princess, She was flown in Shediac in a Cliper then proceeded towards Ottawa for refuge. We are in the process of organising a Musium on the Pan Am era in Shediac and any help would be apperciated.

[Reply]

Magge Gates Reply:

Dear Mr. Vienneau,

Delighted to hear of plans for a museum on Pan Am flights to/from Shediac.
My dad was a WWII American US Marine/civilian courier who flew on the
Clippers to Europe, often stopping at Shediac, Newfoundland, Iceland I
believe. I have little info from him (he has passed on) or others of the details of
these flights and his courier duties. I am researching his exploits now.

Can you direct me to any Canadian sources which may have records of
passengers of these flights, 1940-1945, or general info about the
facilities and layovers at that time? Thanks for your help.

[Reply]

John L. Hitchcock Reply:

Dear Mr. Vienneau,
I have just come across this website and read all the comments. The one mid-way stopping place on the route across the Atlantic from the US to England was Horta, Faial Azores. I lived there till I was twelve and the Pan Am crews lived, during lay-overs, in the Western Union Telegraph Company’s single mens’ mess which has now been converted into “The Hotel Fayal” which you can find on Google. I have at least one photo of a PA Clipper anchored in our harbour with the small city in the background. I had gone back to England by ship just prior to WW2 but my parents still lived in Fayal (has two spellings). As I was due for call up into the army in 1944, my mother took a chance and flew to Lisbon where the clipper landed on the Tagus and after a few days and under the utmost secrecy it took off again for England. She had my baby brother with her and he still has a US dollar bill signed by all the passengers – mostly US reporters famous in their time – which made him what they called “A Short Snorter”. I am 86 and my baby brother is now 76 and lives in South Africa. The Pan Am Clipper called at Horta, Fayal regularly before the war. Carlton Stevens Coon, the famous anthropologist was a friend of my father’s and is likely to have been a passenger on one of the clippers. Hope this is useful information for you.

John Hitchcock

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joe henderson August 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Someone doing research on Fred Noonan. In P.V.H. Weems’ editions of AIR NAVIGATION, l943,
l958, he reprints a letter which Noonan wrote him very shortly before l937 in which Noonan
describes his navigational techniques and procedures to some degree on the pioneering PAA
Pacific flights. Noonan says in the letter he preferred the 1927 Driesonstock Sight Reduction tables
simply because he was used to them. Ageton, a Navy Midshipman at Annapolis came along in
the mid to late l930s with his tables. After the Allegheny-Mohawk Airlines merger, my BAC1-11
simulator instructor was Captain Ross Minuez who was on one of the post-war round-the-world
Connie flights with PAA. He was a good stick. Captain Joe Henderson, USAirways, A330 retired

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kyra August 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Great, looking for this for a visual for Ken Follet’s “Night Over Water” which I’m currently reading. Fascinating. The plane. The book.

[Reply]

JC Reply:

Did you finished the book? How was it?

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John Wilson August 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm

What a wonderful site, full of real nostalgia. I have been researching the wartime operations of the PanAm Clippers when they were flying almost non-stop across the Atlantic and have assembled a good deal of information on the routes and dates of flights of all the Boeing 314 “Clippers”. I have been helped enormously by the generosity of ex PanAm crew members who have kindly provided me with photocopies of their flying logbooks, and in particular Bill Nash, Chuck Darcy, Rod Brown and Lesley Brissette. However, if anyone could help me with copies of wartime logbooks it would make my research a lot more accurate. In return I do have a lot of flight information from sources such as the BOAC wartime records held at Heathrow and would be very pleased to share this with anyone chasing a particular flight. Is anyone out there?
Regards,
John Wilson

[Reply]

Eric Niderost Reply:

Hello John,

I am a history teacher and writer–and have just interviewed Bud Zahner, a Pan Am pilot who was with the NavalAir Transport– I got into this via a love of the clippers, particularly the martins and 314s. But there’s relatively little on the Pan Am flights after the early months of the war. Bud was sharp for someone in his 90s–but still, forgot details. Could you help fill in a few blanks– like routes, etc (He was with V-2, I believe)
thanks so much

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John L. Hitchcock Reply:

Dear Mr. Wilson,

I have just written to Mr. Vienneau about the Pan Am stop in Horta Fayal Azores on its way from the US to England. However, I forgot to mention that one of my recently published books named “Antonia” described Horta, and the island of Fayal in some detail. You can find it on amazon.com Kindle under my name, book title with code number B005DGB2VC. Hope this is helpful.

John Hitchcock

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John W. Willmott July 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm

No such place except by Google or http://jews4peace.com/
What more can I say? JW

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Craig Weinstein June 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Hello,
The web site is a real joy to search.
I have been searching for some reliable scale prints for the Sikorsky S-42 for a large scale cockpit mockup project . Thus far no luck, Any suggestions?
Thanks
Craig

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Abel Goulart June 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I remember stationed in Natal, Brazil, attached to hedron 16 and PBM squadron, 203.
This was 1943. we were next to the Pan Am dock, and tied down was a Pan Am clipper ship.
Quite a spectacle. we toured the clipper ship, what stood out to me was that behind each
engine was a work shop, they could actually work on the engine in flight.

[Reply]

michael dodd March 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Hi.. just found this site.. am searching for details of aircraft tail number NCI 4715.. a Pan Am flying boat although am not sure what type…am continuing my search.

If anyone knows please could they email ?

Many thanks.. Michael
(Sydney Australia)

[Reply]

admin Reply:

NC-14715 was the Philippine Clipper, a Martin M-130.

[Reply]

John W. Willmott Reply:

Hi Jim: I never flew on a Martin M-130 but did fly on the Sikorsky 38, 41, 41, 43, 41, 42 out of Miami and the Boeing 314 out of North Beach and Port Washington but when Hitler invaded Poland on a lie on Sept 1, 1939 I volunteered as a fighter pilot to the RCAF but was sent in June 1941 to ferry bombers for the Atlantic Airways, Ltd which became PAAF after Pearl Harbor. It was then that I flew many different bombers including the Martin B-26 and the B-25 Mitchell bomber.
Later I was hired as a pilot by Charlie Blair for the AOA.

You can see a bit of my history by a Google on Atlantic Airways, Ltd.
Have a great Memorial Day on Monday, May 31.
Cheers. John W. Willmott Sat. 29 May 2010
Cheers. John W. Willmott, 224 Pershing Way, WPB, FL 33401 51-832-0070

[Reply]

Al Stiles Reply:

My grandfather was Wilfred I (Phil) Stiles. He was, at the time of his death, Chief of Navigation, Pacific Division of Pan American Airlines. I am trying to find out more about him as I was only about 4 years old when he died 1948/49(?). He helped establish the Navigation school at Pan AM and greated many of the charts used on the Clipper routes to South America. The last of his children, my Aunt Tinker, passed away earlier this year and we, the Grandchildren have determined that we didn’t have much knowledge about him. I have also inherited a number of “wings” that have been in the family and I would like to know more about them. I can provide pictures.

Regards,

Al Stiles

[Reply]

CWO Ret'd K M Rankin, CD, RCAF March 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I have just finished briefing a 12 year old schoolboy from McDonald’s Cnrs, Ont.,Canada, who is interested in the Clippers, and whose great uncle was with me in Botwood,Newfoundland, in1942 when I witnessed the crash of one of these A/C, on what I saw and what was reported in the news, and what is published in the Flying Boat Museum in Botwood. All stories are different. The boy has chosen this subject for a school project.I had preserved info on all the versions of the crash, and on 116 BR (bomber reconnaisance squadron,to which I and his great uncle belonged at that time. I thought this might be of interest. K M Rankin

[Reply]

Jim Watson March 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Hello all:

I am a filmmaker producing a documentary on Catalina Island’s aviation history. I am currently researching the segment where Dick Probert, owner of Avalon Air Transport, flew to Peru on Pan Am in 1957 to purchase the last remaining Sikorsky VS-44 (NC41881) to add to his fleet of Grumman Gooses and a Sikorsky S-43. This plane became known locally as the “Mother Goose”.

On his initial flight to Peru, Probert wrote that it was a two-day trip on Pan Am DC-6s via Rio. Can anyone tell me what other stops/transfers he would have had to make on such a trip?

Thank you, Jim Watson

[Reply]

Liesa Fenton Reply:

Jim,

Did you ever make the film? Could you contact me to let me know?

Thank You

[Reply]

Jim Watson Reply:

Hi Liesa:

I am still in the process of making the film. I plan to release it in early July.

In fact, I just returned home to California after a one-week trip to Connecticut where I visited the Sikorsky VS-44 at the New England Air Museum.

I made the entire trip just for that purpose of getting video of the plane. I can email you some photos if you are interested.

–Jim

[Reply]

Jim Loux Reply:

Hi Jim,
I worked for Dick and Nancy Probert (great friends) for a couple of years when they first moved to Annapolis, CA. If you haven’t done so already, contact Nancy, she has “home movies” of the trip to Peru. Good luck with your book, love to get a copy.
Jim Loux

[Reply]

Jake Ivey March 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Maybe someone reading this site knows the answer to my question. We were in the Air Force, stationed in Hawaii in the late ’40s. We were transferred back to CONUS in November, 1948. We flew back in a flying boat that my mother (now 90) says was Navy, and I’m trying to work out what type of aircraft it was. It was a large aircraft — my mother is fairly sure that it had two decks and maybe a separate flight deck, but she’s not sure about that. An admiral was on the flight and was allowed a bunk for his use, but gave it to my mother, who was carrying my six-month-old brother. She recalls only one other bunk, across the aisle from her, and that the bunk was next to or above the inboard engine on that side — she’s fairly sure there were four engines. Curtains across the open side of the bunks. She thinks she was near or right behind the flight deck when she was in the bunk. She recalls stepping from the little boat that carried them out to the plane either directly through the open hatch or onto something and then in. There were portholes along the side, fairly large, and when they were testing the engines the ocean came up high enough to cover the one next to our seat — I remember that part myself. What large flying boat was operating out of Hawaii in late ’48, carrying admirals and dependents and had the above characteristics?

[Reply]

Thomas Kewin Reply:

The last flight of a PAA flying boat was in April, 1946 (I was on it) so it was undoubtedly a Martin Mars. The Navy operated three of them between Honolulu and Alameda, CA

[Reply]

Eric Niderost Reply:

Hello Thomas,

I am a history teacher and writer. I have just interviewed Bud Zahner, who was with the Naval Air Transport, flew the 314s, etc… He was great, but could not remember some specific details– There was an old, old clipping on him that said (paraphrase) “Zahner was on the last flight boat flight from New York to San Francisco via Corpus Christi”– I am wondering if that was the same flight you were on, and if so, was it a mars and not a 314? How would a flying boat go over land? did they do that (I mean, they’s have to to get to SF, Texas or no texas!)
thanks so much

[Reply]

Lin Snow Reply:

I believe the a/c in question is the JRM, Martin Mars, flying boat. Three or four were still operating in the mid-fifties out of NAS Alameda (CA) carrying personnel and dependents between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor. They were the largest US-built flying boats. One or two of them may still be operational in Canada where they have been used for years as forest fire bombers, believe it or not.
Lin Snow

[Reply]

bill charles Reply:

Li I was stationed at NAS Alameda in1954. There was no doubt when the Mars took off each evening. Then a month later I was on one to Hawaii.I vividly remember a Crew Chief showing me around, and was astonished as we went INTO the wing wher maintenance could be performed if necessary. One of my most menorable of many navy flights.There is a great article in SmithsonianAir and Space mag about The Martin Mars water bombers Oct/Nov 1993. Enjoy Bill

[Reply]

bill treseler Reply:

it could have been the “california clipper”….i have an original photo of it w/ numbers. the photo looks as if it was taken in Hawaii as there are palm trees and such in the photo. email me or respond if youd like to take a look

[Reply]

Larry Roberts Reply:

My guess would be that it was the Martin Mars flying boat. Originally intended as a patrol bomber, by the time it first flew, probably after the war was over, Navy ordered six as large transports. Two of them still fly as aerial tankers for forest firefighting, normally based in British Columbia. Fairly easy to find that operation via Google or youtube. Pretty impressive airplanes…

[Reply]

Laura March 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I have a stack of the preprinted envelopes with photo of the Bermuda Clipper for the first U.S. trans-atlantic air mail post marked April 6, 1938 from Port Washington, New York to Postmaster, Hamilton Bermuda. Are these of any interest to anyone?
Thank you.

[Reply]

Alex Reply:

Hello Laura,
Regarding the envelopes you have with the Bermuda Clipper, as a former Pan Am employee, I would be most interested in the envelopes if they are still available.
Thank you for your consideration — Alex

[Reply]

Allen Donaldson Jr February 7, 2010 at 2:09 am

does anyone know anything about My great uncle “Cage” he was once a pilot on one of the south American Clippers he flew out of Miami. until I heard he had had it a mechanic and thought the rest his time would be best served as a Mechanic until he retired. I believe he loved Pan Am a great deal, I never saw my Uncle Ira M Cooper wear ANY thing but the white bib Pan Am overalls every where he went. My uncle was a big John sized man with hands that swallowed my fathers hands, Men six foot tall were short by comparison. To look at him you would think he didn’t have a dime, a tad eccentric maybe, but very far from poor. he was in his eighties when he died in the mid 1970s his Sister was my Grand mother, I used to live in Homestead, Fl as a teenager I couldnt spend enough time with him. he was a quiet man who loved to play checkers. quite the engineer inventer too. He never married and never had children. does any of this ring a bell to anyone? please, pictures, if available. thanks

[Reply]

Stacy Cooper Reply:

Uncle Cage was actually only 77 when he died; 1899-5Feb 1976. If you received any responses, I would be interested.

[Reply]

Dave Gault February 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

Ken Follett has a novel set in Nov 1939, about the last civilian flight that was New York bound from Europe. It is called, Night Over Water. The story, minus the suspense, is quite possibly representative of what that trip would have been like.

[Reply]

Pete Doherty February 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

When I was a kid living in Miami my uncle would fly from NYC to MIA and then take a PanAm Clipper to Panama. I don’t remember that he came down on a Clipper.(?) I believe they flew over the Isthmus of Panama and landed at Balboa, but I’m not sure of this either. (?) Maybe someone knows about that route. He must have continued on to Lima, Peru in a different aircraft because I remember him telling a story about one particularly turbulant flight over the mountains in a thunder storm. He was with the FBI and was assigned to their office in Lima. He would never divulge what he did during those years, but he made several round trips and we would go down to meet him or see him off. Years later I flew PanAm 707′s and 747′s to many different cities in South America, and lived in Venezuela for several years. One other question. In the photographs of the interior of the Clipper it doesn’t appear that the crew or the passengers wore seat belts.(?)

[Reply]

Ron Barrett, USAF Ret. Navigator January 24, 2010 at 10:46 am

Ron Barrett, USAF Ret. Navigator January 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

The China Clipper was a great step into the future for international travel in 1935. To do this, it required a flight navigator.

Frederick Noonan was the lead for Pan AM. We are researching his work. Help is needed here: do you or any one you know have any pictures, letters, or articles on Navigator Fred Noonan that you can share with us all?

Fred Noonan had to be one of the best and brightest navs to have ever flown and we wish to establish this factually. He used the “Agiton” celestial computations for celestial (which required an exceptional understanding of spherical trigonometry) and established the R&D methods used by Pan Am on the then brand new, radio direction finder net work used on their routes. He had to have also been very good at Morse Code as he was prior to flying (20 years) a maritime sailor and rated Sea Captain which all extensively utilized CW Morse Code.

Side Note: Sorry to say much of which has been written about Noonan by non-aviation, non-navigator folks, who had never been, there or ever-done-that-authors is pure BS.

Ronald P Barrett, President Air Force Navigators Observers Association ( http://www.afnoa.org )

[Reply]

John W. Willmott Reply:

Feb 26, 2010: JWW here: Former USCG Surfman 3 years Fire Island, USCGTampa Stapleton SI, NY to Mobile to USCG Nike Pascagoul. Miss. Flood Duty Natchez, Memphis etc. Mobile radio NMG Honorable Discharge.
To PAA Miami, Hired by Mr. Carroll as FRO with promise of Co-pilot slot next hiring in new non military program, exam by Manuel “Pete” Fernandez. Flight Radio Officer to all statons Carib. South America to Rio. Xferred NY North Beach 1939. Boeing 314 to all Atlantic Division stations. Hitler invaded Poland on a lie Sept. 1, 1939. Decided volunteer RCAF after more prep unless Pan Am put me in right seat before that. Called by US Govt to Wash. Interrigated. Hired as Navigator/RO/co-plot trainee on program for one man ferry of bombers across S. Atl.- not practical – so we had a few double duty like me. Checked out on PBY between Batavia and Surabaja on Feb. 8, 1942 after flight Mia, SA water jump to Fish Lake, Congo, to upper Nile to Khartoum to Aden to Upper India to Calcutta to Rangoon to Sibolga Sumatra, fired on by carrier planes on way to Bativia, to Surabaja on my final PBY capt. checkout.
Noonan had been head PAA Nav. He left to go with – uh – she got lost. Noonan and she made some mistakes – but I was not there – and we all make mistakes. He was replaced by Bill Alexander ( have good photo of him and others of PAA and PAAF which I took along with many plane and place photos which I took) who finished teaching me celestial from HO-214 (Big book) for each area along with alminac and a hack watch. But that is another story. I have a guest just arrived. I am an active 95 plus. I have not had time to check on all those on this website. But try for me Google me “yes I flew a DC3″ and ” http://www.seaboardairlines.org/activities/jw1.htm ” Gotta go at 1807 EST 26 Feb. 2010. -30- 73

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Peter Becker January 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

There is a flyable S-34 at the Air museum in Hartford, CT. one of the old Catalina boats that went to St. Croix with Maurine Ohara and her husband, was rescued before the huricane in Sr. Croix (Andrew?)…actually flown to Florida…dissassembled and barged to Sikorsky on the Housatonic River in CT and lovingly restored by retired Sikorsky Staff…it even has the original wicker bathroom fixtures!

It was to go to Hartford several years ago…bridge clearance on I-84 was a problem…

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Ray Temple December 6, 2009 at 11:43 am

I have the print of NC 18601 and a clipper ship that is shown in the upper left corner of these web pages. Can anybody tell me about its origin and title?

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Dave Gault Reply:

I don’t see an S-34 boat listed on the top of this page; do you have any more details abou the airplane? Manufacturer?

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Dave Gault Reply:

I have a print of the same airplane tied-up at the dock in Pearl Harbor, 1938. I think it may be the first one delivered to PanAm. I read a biography of Juan Trippe from the library, and learned a lot of background on the founding of the airline; I think the times of the flying boats were well presented.

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John W. Willmott Reply:

Feb 23, 2010 Tuesday

John W. Willmott, 224 Persing Way, WPB, Fl 33401
To: Avinash Datadin
Dear Mr. Datadin: I believe you referred to a large (originally) Poster in color advertising PAA when the Boeing 314 first started flying about 1939 across the Atlantic from North Beach and Port Washington, NY to Foynes Ireland and on to Lisbon with return via Bolama, West Africa to Belem and San Juan to NY again. The flights from and return were also to Bermuda, and the Azores to Portugal and also NY to Botwood, Newfoundland to Foynes.
I started flying for Pan Am Airways in Miami as a Flight Radio officer in April, 1938 after 3 years as a Surfman and Radioman 2nd Class. I flew on the Sikorsky 40, 41, 38. 42 and 43 all over the southern routes as far as Rio. Transferred in 1939 to North Beach and flew on the Boeing 314s from N 16301 on through 12 or more or less until I left to fly as a fighter pilot for the RAF after Hitler lied (like Bush) and illegally attacked Poland.
I ended up as a pilot for Seaboard World Airlines on the Douglas DC-8-63 “stretch” after which I was retired because I reached 60. I am now 95 and going great.
Cheers. John W. Willmott aka Jolly Uncle John
PS: Get rid of this silly window and get a he man’s address like tiojuan1@earthlink.net so you can get and send pictures and wordspell etc.

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Avinash Datadin November 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Somebody, please bring those luxury one’s back.

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Chuck Boyd November 4, 2009 at 7:19 am

My only experience was in the 1960s flying from Los Angeles to Catalina and landing in the harbor. It was a small enough plane that I remember leaning forward and “urging” it to lift off the water as we surged and had a bow wave on takeoff.

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Larry Schwartz October 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

The Pan Am Flying Boats were marvelous. I have four 16mm films that were produced by Pan Am as promotional travelogues. Places visited: Mexico, Alaska, Bahamas, Hawaii. I would like to sell these films to someone who would appreciate – they are narrated films on 14″ reels. I’m not sure when they were made, but I am guessing late 40s or early 50s.

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Dave Gault Reply:

Are they 16mm films?

I might be interestedor know someone who is.

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james wise September 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

could the yankee clippers land on runways or were they only waterbound flying boats?

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admin Reply:

The Boeing 314 had no undercarriage for land operations; it could only takeoff or land on the water.

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John W. Willmott Reply:

So right you are. I flew on most of the Sikorskys for PAA from the 38 thru 40 to 42 and 43 to all the 314s
Cheers. Jolly Uncle John
PS: I arrived here via Bob Ford’s trip around the world at which time I was on my from Africa to Surabaga via Rangoon flying my Captain check on a PBY for the Royal Dutch Navy.
Chers again

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Meg Dondero Reply:

Hi John,

I wonder if you might have known my father, Ralph Conly – FRO w/Pan Am from 1940 to 1950…He flew on some (if not all?) of the same plane types as you…starting in Miami, then LaGuardia, than SF (I believe). :-) Unfortunately, he just passed away on Friday afternoon, but he lived a very long, full, wonderful life…He was 92. :-)

Thanks,
Meg Dondero

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John W. Willmott Reply:

Fri 16 Jul 2010 from JWW 224 Pershing Way, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 561-832-0070
Former 3 year Surfman US Life Saving Service on Fire Island Life Saving Service, Bayshore Long Island
Hired as FRO PAA Miami Eastern Division by Mr. Carroll and tested and approved by “Pete” Manuel Fernandez .
And yes, I knew of Ralph Conley who ran the Clipper Pioneers with a running list of all the FROs of PAA
I still have the last edition Ralph published. And I guess it was about 4 or 5 years or some ago that I sent him an e-mail and got a response. He lived out in the north-west somewhere.
I knew Sammy Mason of Maine and “OB” Orville Bivens and many others. Orville became a pilot and chief pilot of EAA and I became a pilot of PAAF, Charlie Blair’s American Export Airlines becoming the American Overseas Airlines et al until retired from Seaboard World Airlines at 60. I am not 95 plus and still get around with an occasional “senior moment” without too much problem.
So Meg Dondero, I extend my most sincere condolences for the last flight of Ralph Conley who I last met many years ago at the get-together in the west part of Florida.
Thanks for the contact. What is new with you and where are you located. Cheers. Jolly Uncle John aka JWW “WT” or old “Watertight” former FRO Miami then North Beach until I volunteered to the RCAF to help kill Hitler for doing what GW Bush and his bunch were doing and which Obama seems to be doing also. I told you you might not like my politics which are easily found by using my name and stuff like that there! 73 es 88 -30-

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T. Carter Page Reply:

James:
My dad flew for PAWA from 1936 to 1972. He commanded Consolidated Commodores (flying boat only, not amphibian), also Sikorsky S-42 (also strictly a flying boat, though there are photos of them on “beaching gear” similar to a boat trailer, used for maintenance). He flew right seat (First Officer on Boeing 314, strictly a flying boat, though like S-42 there are photos that people have mis-interpreted as landing gear), and navigator on Martin M-130′s, again strictly a flying boat. PAWA did have amphibians, many of the Sikorsky’s were amphibians. If you are interested, I recommend Wings to the Orient, and The Clipper Heritage, both good books on the subject. There are many more out there also.

Carter

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Steve Hepworth Reply:

Do you have any pictures from your dad’s that show the old Commodore’s and Sikorsky’s during the time he piloted them?

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T. Carter Page Reply:

Steve: My father was a fairly serious amateur photographer, and he took lots of photos. I have never seen any photos of the planes he flew, oddly enough, but I have lots of negatives that I have not even had a chance to go through. If I find any aircraft photos, I’ll let you know.
Carter

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T. Carter Page: I would be interested in your photos as well. I’m still looking for information on the Bermuda Clipper, that burned in Manaus Brazil in 1943. Can you help me?
Please contact me when you can.
Best Regards, Douglas.

Douglas Westfall
The Paragon Agency, Publishers
P.O. Box 1281 Orange, CA 92856
(714) 771-0652
http://www.SpecialBooks.com
Paragon@SpecialBooks.com

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

T. Carter Page: Any chance you have time for me?
I’ve really appreciate your help with the Bermuda Clipper. If you would give permission, I’d do a side bar on your father within the book.
Best Always, Douglas Westfall
Paragon@SpecialBooks.com

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T. Carter Page: I’m looking for information on the Bermuda Clipper, that burned in Manaus Brazil in 1943.
Hope you can help. I’m a historical publisher.
Best Regards, Douglas.

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T. Carter Page Reply:

I have my father’s original log book, showing that the boat was lost, but “no lives lost”. I also have a copy of the original report of the court of inquiry.

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

T. Carter Page: This is Douglas Westfall, historic publisher. I’m finishing up a book on the memoirs of a Pan Am 1st Radio Officer who flew Clippers from 1940 to 1946. He’s 92 Each chapter for that year has a panel about each of the Clippers that crashed, exploded, sank, burned, or were lost. I have nothing on the one that burned in Brazil and would really appreciate your help. I do have CABs on many, but not that one. Please feel free to email me. Best Always, Doug

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T. Carter Page Reply:

Doug:
I will be happy to send you what I have, both in terms of historic papers (copies) and oral history from my dad. I am currently out of town on business, and may not have all the papers on my laptop. If I am missing something, I will send what I have now, and send the rest later.
Carter

Douglas Westfall Reply:

Carter: Thank you (there was no reply button for yours), I really appreciate your help. Best Always, Doug

Douglas Westfall
The Paragon Agency, Publishers
P.O. Box 1281 Orange, CA 92856
(714) 771-0652
http://www.SpecialBooks.com
Paragon@SpecialBooks.com

Douglas Westfall Reply:

Carter: Thank you — how do I get in touch with you?
Best, Doug
Douglas Westfall
The Paragon Agency, Publishers
P.O. Box 1281 Orange, CA 92856
(714) 771-0652
http://www.SpecialBooks.com
Paragon@SpecialBooks.com

Glenn B. Iverson Reply:

The date was July 27, 1943 at Manaos. THE CREW GOT AN ENGINE FIRE ON START UP AND THE WRONG HANDLE WAS PULLED IN THE COCKPIT. fUEL WAS DUMPED ONTO THE WATER, CAUGHT FIRE AND THE AIRCRAFT BURNED TO THE WATER LINE. The aircraft was NC16736

Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T. Carter Page: This is Douglas Westfall, historical publisher. If you can, I’d really like to know what happened to the Bermuda Clipper when it burned up the Amazon in 1943.

Please let me know.
Best Always, Doug

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T. Carter Page Reply:

Douglas:
I am back in my normal work schedule. I’ll try and send you copies of what I have tonight.

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T. Carter: Oh bless you. I have searched every archive, CAB, you name — nada on this Clipper. I’ll give you a citation and send you a copy of the book.
Best, Doug

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T. Carter Page Reply:

I tried to send the copies of my dad’s log book and the board of inquiry document, but I do not know how to attach anything to this “reply”. I tried a regular email, but the link address associated with your name appears to be a website. Can you send me your email address, to: tcpage@hotmail.com.
Thanks

Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T Carter Page: Do you have time to email me the story of the Bermuda Clipper?
I’m getting close to finishing the book and would really appreciate some detail on the event.
Best Regards, Doug

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Douglas Westfall Reply:

Dear T. Carter Page — any chance you can send me that story on the Bermuda Clipper?
Best Always, Douglas Westfall

Douglas@SpecialBooks.com

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Dave Gault June 24, 2009 at 12:55 am

My father-in-law flew as one of the aircrew for Pan Am, retiring after more than 40 years at age 61, in early 1981. He began his flying career on these flying boats, and finished flying the 707′s and 747′s for many years. He is 89 years old and his stories have kept his family in awe for most of their lives. He is very sharp and still very exacting in his conversations about airplanes. I took him for a visit to see the ‘Spruce Goose’ up close. He was only interested if he could sit in the pilot’s seat and we very fortunately got pictures of him getting a tour and putting his hands on the controls.

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Pete Doherty Reply:

Please see my message of 2/4/10. Maybe your father-in-law could answer some of my questions.
thanks,

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Dave Gault Reply:

Would you care to list a few of your questions? I would take them to him and see if he knows about them and get back here.

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Pete Doherty Reply:

Questions for your father-in-law.

Miami to Panama: Did Clipper land at Balboa?
How long would the flight have been?
Did it continue on to Peru?
If so, where did it land?
Did passengers ware seat belts?

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joe Russell Reply:

What was your father inlaws name? When I started in Boston Center as new controller in 1982 there was a guy there hired after the strike helping out that was a retired Pan AM pilot with a similar history. I forget his name, because we always just called him ” Clipper One “–that was the B747 route he was flying when he retired.

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Dave Gault Reply:

His name is John McKee.

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Joe Russell Reply:

Not the same guy, but I’m sure they would have been acquainted.
Just visited the IAD air museum this past Sun. and saw a great looking Pan Am —-I believe it was a B317 ? What a great era for aviation.

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Meg Dondero Reply:

By IAD, do you mean the Int’l Airport in Dulles, by chance?
If so, that’s the Boeing S-307 that my father helped restore. :-) He was a Flight Radio Operator/Officer w/PAA from 1940 to 1950…His good friend, Bob Stubbs, was responsible for doing much of the initial work and fund-raising (mostly donations from PAA retirees) to get that restoration going! If it weren’t for them and other PAA retirees, that plane would have never been restored to the beauty it is now! (Can you tell, I’m very proud of my Dad? :-) He just passed away on Friday, unfortunately….but I’ve got lots of ‘memories’ in his hundreds of files of PAA papers, photos, and other memorabilia to look through, which I hope to get organized and donate to the appropriate museums, etc., soon….) :-)

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Joe Russell Reply:

Yes , thats the aircraft. I have much in the way of memorabilia as well from PAA. My parents met while working at La Guardia. My Dad tells me how they use to take the Clippers out of the water on a rolling dolly on rails.My Mom worked for American OverSeas Airlines. I have silverware from that period that have handles in the shape of DC-6 or 7′s. I recently donated a pilot application for American Overseas to the 99′s museum in OKC that was hand written by Ruth Nichols. My Mom worked in an admin. office and kept it when they were cleaning out old files.That was a great time in aviation for our parents. They have some great stories. My dad turns 92 this Aug. and mom is 86. I recently retired from FAA as an Air Traffic Controller and am doing contract work in DC and was able to see your Dads incredible restoration. My parents are still in NYC. I need to get them down to the IAD museum soon to see it.

Jim Martini Reply:

When I was a child living near San Francisco with my widowed mother, two sisters and grandmother I remember that our family would host a Pan American crew member by the name of Bob Stubbs. Although we lost touch with Bob he was often part of our family’s fond memories. Can any one tell me how I can contact Bob or his family. As a point of clarification, our family name was Ojeda, it was changed when my mother remarried.

Brad Jamieson June 22, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Hey:

I really enjoyed this site. Sure would like to see more. Thse were flying just prior to when I started flying. I remember a Sikorsky S-44 in the Virgin Islands back in 1969.

Thanks,

Brad

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Richard Sense Reply:

During the Golden Gate International Exhibition in 1939-1940 there was a PAA terminal on Treasure Island. I can remember the Clippers landing on the Bay and taxiing in. Did the terminal remain in operation after the fair closed, and if not, where in the Bay Area was it relocated?

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Ed Dover Reply:

Yes, Pan Am continued using the Treasure Island base after the fair closed. But by the time of Pearl Harbor it was taken over by the Navy and all operations were under contract to the Naval Air Transport Service. I was hired as a Flight Radio Officer in November, 1942 and received my initial training at Treasure Island. All Pan Am flight crews were inducted into the Naval Reserve and assigned ranks in accordance with their education and work history. As a FCC licensed radio operator I received the rank of Navy Radioman 1st class. My first assignment as a crew member was on board a B314 scheduled to fly from Treasure Island to Pearl Harbor on January 20th, 1943. We departed Treasure Island around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. A strong Pacific storm created such strong headwinds that the captain (whose name I can not recall) decided to return to Treasure Island because he figured we could not make it to Hawaii without running out of fuel. That same night the Martin M-130, Philipine Clipper was inbound to Treasure Island and the wind was a tail wind for them. They made the crossing from Hawaii in about nine hours – unheard of for the slow flying boat. Arriving at the coastline way ahead of schedule they were still in the storm and the captain elected to divert to the alternate at Clear Lake. In the process of letting down there, they ran into a mountain and all on board were killed. That was my introduction to flying boat operations! Sometime in 1944 Pan Am moved their flying boat operation to the marine terminal at Mills Field – several miles south of San Francisco. That location is now San Francisco International Airport. Following a couple of ground assignments at Pearl Harbor and Noumea, New Caledonia, I resumed flight status and flew out of Mills Field until the end of the NATS contract in July, 1945 at which time I transferred to New York City and transitioned into the land planes (DC4, Constellations) that were used after that time. I left Pan Am in the Spring of 1948 and returned to California and eventually hired on with the CAA (now the FAA) as a communications specialist and air traffic controller. Spent ten years in Hawaii, with assignments at Midway Island, Wake Island, Maui, and Honolulu. Eventually wound up here in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I still live, retiring from the FAA in 1982 after 33 years. I wrote “The Long Way Home” which is still available for purchase. See my web site at longwayhome.com.

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