Pan Am Across the Atlantic

Yankee Clipper arriving at Southampton, England after survey flight across the Atlantic in April, 1939.  (click photos to enlarge)hhin

Yankee Clipper arriving at Southampton, England after survey flight across the Atlantic. April, 1939. (click all photos to enlarge)

Eyes on the Atlantic

Pan American had its eyes on the Atlantic market almost from the beginning of the airline’s history.  The crossing between Europe and America was one of the most heavily traveled passenger routes in the world; in 1925, about a million passengers crossed the North Atlantic. The world’s largest and most prestigious ocean liners were in service on the North Atlantic, and the passage between Europe and the United States boasted more first class passengers (and potential airline customers) than any other steamship route; about 180,000 passengers crossed the Atlantic in first class in 1925.   Perhaps even more importantly, a tremendous quantity of mail (the keystone of any airline’s revenue in the early days of commercial aviation) as well as express packages and valuable freight carried between Europe and the United States.

Pan American assumed that its natural expansion, after its success in Latin America, would be across the Atlantic, and the requirements of a transatlantic crossing dictated Pan American’s specifications for a new aircraft in the early 1930’s, which would become the S-42 and M-130.  Pan American also made early investments in the route, including the purchase of landing rights from the government of Iceland for $55,000 in 1932.  But political and diplomatic roadblocks, primarily set by the British, frustrated Pan Am’s ambitions to offer service across the Atlantic, which remained stalled for most of the 1930’s, even as the German airships Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg began regularly scheduled passenger and mail service between Europe and America.

Resistance from the British

The main obstacle was that Britain did not want the United States to have a monopoly — or even a head-start — on a transatlantic airline service, and refused to grant landing rights in Britain itself or the British-controlled stepping stone across the Atlantic, such as Atlantic Canada and Bermuda.  Similar rivalry from Portugal also frustrated attempts to inaugurate a southern route with stops in the Azores and Lisbon on the southern route.

The British insisted on reciprocity, and would not grant landing rights to an American airline until Britain’s Imperial Airways was able to commence a similar service.  On January 25, 1936, Juan Trippe and George Woods-Humphrey, Managing Director of Imperial Airways, signed an agreement dividing transatlantic service between Pan American and Imperial Airways; the agreement eliminated competition from other airlines, such as the Dutch, French, and Germans, who were barred from the British stepping stones across the Atlantic, but it provided that neither Pan Am nor Imperial Airways could begin service until both airlines able to do so.  Since Britain was far behind America in flying boat technology, and Imperial Airways did not have any aircraft capable of transatlantic service in 1936, Pan American would have to wait more three years before its planes could fly the Atlantic.

The first crack in the wall of British resistance occurred in early 1937, under the threat of competition from airships and alternative technologies, such as the German sea-air catapult mail service, which did not require landing permits on British-controlled territory.  Pan Am began construction of flying boat bases Baltimore, New York City, and Port Washington, Long Island, and other bases were built at Shediac, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick; Botwood in Newfoundland, not far from Gander Lake; and at Foynes, on the River Shannon in Ireland.

Pan American Service to Bermuda

The first step in creating a reciprocal British-American transatlantic service was the opening of service between the United States and Bermuda.  While Imperial Airways’ principal flying boat in 1937, the Short Brothers S-23, did not have the range to cross the Atlantic, it was able to make the 775 mile flight between Bermuda and New York.  (Although the British flying boat could not reach Bermuda on its own, and had to be disassembled and sent by ship across the Atlantic.)  On May 25, 1937, the Imperial Airways flying boat Cavalier, and Pan American’s S-42B Bermuda Clipper, left Bermuda and Port Washington at the same time for survey flights on the route.  Regular service by both airlines began on June 18, 1937.

Surveying the Atlantic – 1937

With Anglo-American cooperation on the horizon, Pan Am began surveying the route across the Atlantic.  On June 25, 1937, a Pan American S-42B named Pan American Clipper III, fitted with extra fuel tanks and under the command of Captain Harold Gray, flew from New York to Shediac and back, without landing.  And additional flight to Gander followed, and on July 3, 1937, Imperial Airways and Pan American made the first reciprocal survey flights across the North Atlantic.  The British flying boat Caledonia crossed westward, while Captain Gray’s Pan American Clipper III flew the route from New York to Shediac, Botwood, and Foynes.  An additional survey flight was made on the southern route from New York to Bermuda, the Azores, Lisbon, and Marseilles.

The path to transatlantic airliner service seemed clear.  But the British said no.  Their flying boat had only been able to cross the Atlantic with everything from the seats to the flooring stripped out and replaced with fuel tanks, and the British had no plane capable of flying the transatlantic route with passengers or even mail.  The Hindenburg disaster of May, 1937 eliminated the treat of transatlantic competition by airships, and the British retreated to their earlier position:  No service by Pan American until Imperial Airways could commence service as well.  Pan Am’s transatlantic ambitions were put on hold for another two years.  But by the time Pan American was finally allowed to cross the Atlantic with mail and passengers, it had a new advantage over its British rivals: the B-314 Boeing Clipper.

The First Transatlantic Flights

On May 20, 1939 — only twelve years, to the day, after Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in his single-engine Spirit of St. Louis — Pan American’s B-314 Yankee Clipper departed Port Washington, New York for the first scheduled mail service across the Atlantic.  The Clipper carried 112,574 pieces of mail (mostly from stamp collectors), four dozen California marigolds for Britain’s Queen Mary, and 16 Pan Am employees under the command of Captain Arthur E. La Porte.  The ship flew the southern route across the Atlantic, landing in Lisbon the next afternoon after flight of approximately 27 hours (which included a stop at Horta in the Azores), and then flew to its final destination in Marseilles, France the next day.

Letter carried on first transatlantic mail flight to England.

Letter carried on first transatlantic mail flight to England.

The Yankee Clipper also made the first mail flight on the northern route across the Atlantic, to England, on June 24, 1939, with stops at Shediac (New Brunswick), Botwood (Newfoundland), and Foynes (Ireland).

Passenger service began a few days later, on June 28, 1939, when the Dixie Clipper left New York with 22 passengers on the southern route to Horta, Lisbon, and Marseilles.  The passengers  — who had paid $375 for a one way ticket, or $675 for a round trip — included Southern Railway executive William J. Eck, who received a silver cigarette case for being the first paying passenger on the route; renowned “first flighter” Clara Adams, who was on the first leg of a record breaking, round-the-world flight; Juan Trippe’s wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Stettinius Trippe; United States Lines president John M. Franklin; Texas Corp. (Texaco) chairman Torkild Rieber, who was forced from his position just a few months later for his overly close business relations with Nazi Germany; investment banker Harold Leonard Stuart; and American-Hawaiian Steamship Company president Roger Lapham.

On July 8, the Yankee Clipper introduced Pan Am’s service on the northern route across the Atlantic, carrying 17 passengers to England.  The era of transatlantic heavier-than-air passenger service had arrived.

Yankee Clipper unloading mail at New York on May 27, 1939, after returning from her first transatlantic flight.

Yankee Clipper unloading mail at New York on May 27, 1939, after returning from her first transatlantic flight.


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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan December 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Class Two- Compressed and flammable gases, such as propane, butane, etc.
However, today a great deal of time and money is spent on facility
planning. Now, less than three years later, look where
we are.

[Reply]

Recommended Reading October 14, 2013 at 2:24 am

I enjoy the data on your web site. Thank you!

[Reply]

John Moss October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I was borne in Bermuda, my mother being an American citizen brought me to the US on B314 some time in 1943. Things (food) were scarce as the U-boats were sinking much of the shipping. I remember the trip, and the return trip very well.
When a clipper came through BDA it would remain over night, the mail and even the diplomatic pouch would be unloaded and taken to the Princess Hotel. There it would read by “censorette” (young ladies brought out from England) looking for coded messages. The Germans were using micro dots back then. As I understand it any excuse would be created to keep the aircraft there until all the mail had been checked.

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Maggie VanHaften October 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I am reviving my great aunt’s memoir of her trip on the Clipper from Long Island to Foynes and on to Southhamton on August 12, 1939, which I believe was the second passenger flight. She was scheduled to sail back on the Ile de France on September 1st, however Hitler’s invasion of Poland prevented the ship from sailing and she spent the next 20 days attempting to find passage home, ending up on the Clipper again, along with a young John Kennedy. I am interested in any information on either of these flights. Regards, Maggie

[Reply]

Michael Higgins July 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Hello!

Currently, I am engaged in research concerning the second cruise of the German U-boat “U-123″ along the Georgia coast on 9 April 1942.

For your guidance, U-123 spent the daylight hours submerged south of Brunswick, some 12 miles SE of the SSI lighted buoy. It surfaced at sunset, and cruised on the surface south toward the port city of Jacksonville, FL; where it encountered and sank the refrigerated fruit ship, SS Esparta off St. Marys, GA.

Shortly after U-123 had torpedoed and sunk the Esparta, a clipper appeared ahead of U-123. Kapitänleutnant Hardegen ordered a crash dive, ending the u-boat’s depredations for the evening. The U-123 Kriegstagsbuch (log book) states:

“At 1324 (CET) at quadrant position DB 6724:

Crash-dive for aircraft. A big Clipper behind us. I assume it to be a civilian airliner because nothing happened and they will not use flying boats to patrol the coastal waters. Laid boat on the bottom, depth A -52 meters

– Hardegen”

Dr. Michael Gannon, in his definitive text on Operation Paukenschlag writes, on page 337:
…”U-123’s lookouts sighted a large flying boat dead ahead and coming straight at them. Hardegen dived the boat, worried about the marine phosphorescence in his wake and swirl. When nothing happened he decided that the aircraft was a commercial Pan American clipper…

I have reason to believe that the aircraft in question may have been the Boeing 314 clipper, NC-18612(A) formerly known as the Capetown Clipper – which was sold to the U.S. Navy during sometime during 1942.

I am trying to learn:

1.) Which Pan American Flight, in fact, this might have been (from where, bound to where)
2.) Who was the pilot.
3.) Is there any documentation of this incident on the PanAm side?
4.) Does a copy of the flight log for this voyage exist?

Can you help me, or point me to a source which might contain the answers to my questions?

Thank you for your time and consideration in this endeavor. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Michael

[Reply]

John Underwood May 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Gents,

I stumbled on your site trying to get a line on Harold Gray’s descendants and was astonished to learn that his son
lives several hundred miles from here. I would love to have a chat with Frank Gray.

The undersigned is an old seaplane hand, with a special fondness for flying boats. My current project involves the recovery of the last remaining Consolidated Commodore, which has been languishing on the bottom of a Canadian lake since 1942. It served on Pan American’s South American routes from 1930 until 1937. We are in hopes of seeing it restored as a museum piece.

A few years ago our family rented a house near Foynes for a months vacation in Ireland. I had never heard of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, which was just down the road from our lovely, 600-year-old stone farmhouse. It’s a fascinating museum and well worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to Ireland.

John Underwood
(818) 842-6049

[Reply]

Mickey Charlton Mujahed February 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm

My Dad, Anthony Charlton, was radio-navigator on the Pan Am Clippers…transatlantic routes. Would tell us great stories of favorite places in Lisbon, Foynes, etc. He was on the crew that took the President to Casablanca.

[Reply]

Daniel Vérin Reply:

My wife an I are writing our first novel
It is about Operation Torch, in 1942 to 1944
In Morocco and Algeria (where I was born and lived)
Our hero attends the Casablanca conference and the state dinner to the Sultan.
After FDR trip on PANAM – Miami, Trinida, ? Brazil, Gambia,

Our hero goes to Lisbon and Marseilles on Atlanic Clipper in Dec 1941.

Do you have tid bits from you dad about stays in Lisbon overnight ? or other interesting point ?

Thanks a lot for sharing your dad’s memorie….

Best regards,

Dan
727 427 3352

[Reply]

Robin February 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

my grandparents were in a seaplane crash either in the mid 40’s in the West Indies, either off Antigua or Martinique, or Trinidad while taking off, or landing. My grandparents were both rescued. The only account we, the grandchildren have, is verbal from our father who died in 1995. The following is how my sister relates it:

“The broken half they were in was sinking rapidly and Grandpa was having difficulty undoing Grandmas’s seat belt. Grandma said to him. “Save yourself Willie, save yourself” and her voice was heard by people in a lifeboat above them. They called out, “Anyone alive down there?” and Grandpa shouted, “Yes, yes and we need help !” Two people from the lifeboat climbed down and managed to cut the seat belt with a penknife one of them had, and they all climbed to safety. The life boat then took off for shore as fast as they could to escape the suction of the sinking plane which sank completely about 10 minutes later..” My grandparents were from Antigua.

[Reply]

John Carroll February 9, 2012 at 7:47 am

Hello – great website that I found while looking for something about Wake Island in WWII. I have been sidetracked by the Transatlantic flight history as I love the thirties and went to the Foynes Museum a couple of years ago while on a motorcycle touring holiday. Much of the info here is new to me but I’d be interested to hear a bit more of the politics of US/British rivalry and cooperation because, by the thirties, Foynes was in the Irish Republic so, presumably, beyond British control.
The US flew personnel into neutral Ireland during WWII and, in a low key way, the British had some personnel at Foynes but the whole tale has the feeling of a political thriller.
Yours respectfully, John Carroll

[Reply]

Debra November 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

My great great uncle was William Eck. My family has recently found numerous articles, pictures, etc, regarding the flight, including a copy of the crew and passenger list signed by each. Interestingly, due to his being on the 1st, he also flew on the 50,000th crossing of the Atlantic ocean on Pan Am in 1955 and was presented with a certificate. He actually applied for his ticket in 1931 for the 1939 flight. From what I have garnered, humorist Will Rogers was actually issued the first ticket but passed in 1935. Apparently my uncle called every month or so from 1931-1939 to encourage thm to hurry up! I have some pictures, articles, etc. If anyone would be interested I can always scan.

[Reply]

Ed Martin September 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Just finished reading Follett’s book. I have an early memory of seeing a Clipper taking off at the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia. Follett writes of leaving and arriving at Port Washington. As I grew up on Long Island, I thought perhaps my memory was wrong. On your site I found the picture of a flight at LaGuardia, so my memory was right. My dad worked in Astoria at that time so we went right by LaGuardia on his way to work.

Did the service operate exclusively from Port Washington after a certain date? My recollection is probably from 1938 or 1939

[Reply]

Sarah September 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I too would like to read the article about the Yankee clipped crash. I think one of my relatives was part of the crew. Thank you for letting us know when it will be available.

[Reply]

Tom Truncellito Reply:

My father was working for Pan Am and stationed in Botwood Newfoundland when the American Airlines crash occurred. It happened while he was at a birthday party (his) on the evening of July 16 1942. The plane had come in earlier in the day, and requested to use Pan Am’s dock to perform repairs. The American Airlines crew off loaded cargo to allow access for the necessary repairs, completed the repairs, reloaded the cargo, and took off after sunset. Dad heard the plane crash and with a co-worker used a small fishing boat they had, went out at night to do search and rescue in the dark sea. Dad said no survivors were found, although he may have been referring only to his efforts. Dad’s suspicion was that upon reloading the cargo, it was placed too far forward causing a shift in the center of gravity, ultimately causing the plane to crash upon take off.

[Reply]

joe j Reply:

trying to find out more info about that crash on july 1942 ….but could not find any….do you have any more info on that plane???????????????

[Reply]

Tom Truncellito Reply:

My father told me this story (several times actually, and the details he provided were consistent). I don’t have any thing to add to what I’ve already reported. Dad passed away 2 years ago, so I can’t ask him for more.

Pan Am placed their historical records with the University of Miami at Coral Gables. It’s an amazing trove of information on Pan Am. The file folders are organized and titled, and they can be searched on-line. Specific documents in the file folders have to be searched on site. The library is very helpful pulling folders upon request, and having them ready for examination per your request. No charge for this service. The link is provided below:
http://proust.library.miami.edu/findingaids/?p=collections/controlcard&id=745

[Reply]

Frank Gray August 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I’ve just come across your website and can tell you that I’m Capt Harold E. Gray’s son looking at box’s of his papers. His life was exciting from growing up as a ‘Tom Sawyer’ in Guttenberg Iowa, to his last breath. And with his death, PanAm Died. These papers I have here tell that story
I’m think this happy connection merits an immediate phone call!
Frank @ 650 619 0330.

[Reply]

Jose Foss Reply:

Dear Frank Gray,
I am trying to research George Balfour Hutchins who was the communications chief for PanAm on the route between Lisbon and Bombay, 1946–1948. From what I have just read on this site it looks like The Clippers went from Lisbon to Marseilles, so I presume they went on to Istanbul, then to Bombay. That is the particular route of interest to me because I am trying to compile a family history for George’s granddaughter whom he never knew. George was first based in Lisbon but then shifted to Istanbul, married a White Russian emigree there and returned to New England. He lived 1920–1994. Do you find him in your records, or can anyone point me to particular records for the Lisbon–Bombay route?

Many thanks, one and all,
Jose Foss
Mendoza, Argentina

[Reply]

Jose Foss Reply:

Dear Frank Gray,
I am trying to research George Balfour Hutchins who was the communications chief for PanAm on the route between Lisbon and Bombay, 1946–1948. From what I have just read on this site it looks like The Clippers went from Lisbon to Marseilles, so I presume they went on to Istanbul, then to Bombay. That is the particular route of interest to me because I am trying to compile a family history for George’s granddaughter whom he never knew. George was first based in Lisbon but then shifted to Istanbul, married a White Russian emigree there and returned to New England. He lived 1920–1994. Do you find him in your records, or can anyone point me to particular records for the Lisbon–Bombay route?

Many thanks, one and all,
Jose Foss (Direct email is jose@poderjose.net so please answer there)
Mendoza, Argentina

[Reply]

Michael Higgins Reply:

Frank:

Hello!

Thank yiou for taking the time yesterday morning to discus Pan Am clipers woth me

Currently, I am engaged in research concerning the second cruise of the German U-boat “U-123″ along the Georgia coast on 9 April 1942.

For your guidance, U-123 spent the daylight hours submerged south of Brunswick, some 12 miles SE of the SSI lighted buoy. It surfaced at sunset, and cruised on the surface south toward the port city of Jacksonville, FL; where it encountered and sank the refrigerated fruit ship, SS Esparta off St. Marys, GA.

Shortly after U-123 had torpedoed and sunk the Esparta, a clipper appeared ahead of U-123. Kapitänleutnant Hardegen ordered a crash dive, ending the u-boat’s depredations for the evening. The U-123 Kriegstagsbuch (log book) states:

“At 1324 (CET) at quadrant position DB 6724:

Crash-dive for aircraft. A big Clipper behind us. I assume it to be a civilian airliner because nothing happened and they will not use flying boats to patrol the coastal waters. Laid boat on the bottom, depth A -52 meters

– Hardegen”

Dr. Michael Gannon, in his definitive text on Operation Paukenschlag writes, on page 337:
…”U-123’s lookouts sighted a large flying boat dead ahead and coming straight at them. Hardegen dived the boat, worried about the marine phosphorescence in his wake and swirl. When nothing happened he decided that the aircraft was a commercial Pan American clipper…

I have reason to believe that the aircraft in question may have been one of four Boeing 314 clippers sold to the U.S. Navy during 1942:

1.) NC-18612(A) – Capetown Clipper –
2.) NC18603 – Atlantic Clipper,
3.) NC-18611 – Anzac Clipper,
4.) NC-18606 – American Clipper‏

I am trying to learn:

1.) Which Pan American Flight, in fact, this might have been (from where, bound to where)
2.) Who was the pilot.
3.) Is there any documentation of this incident on the PanAm side?
4.) Does a copy of the flight log for this voyage exist?

Can you help me, or point me to a source which might contain the answers to my questions?

Thank you for your time and consideration in this endeavor. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Michael

[Reply]

Magge Gates June 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I see I am in a group wanting to read the artcle promised about the Yankee Clipper crash.
Are you still working on it? If done, is it on this site or another? Thanks.

[Reply]

Gerry McMahon June 4, 2011 at 7:47 am

I found the book below a great read on the setup of Pan Am’s global flying-boat network. William Masland was naviagator on the first test flight to Foynes in 1937 and had a long and distinguished carreer with Pan Am. I remember hearing this strikingly eloquent man interviewed in the 1980s about the 1937 flight.

Anyone who hasn’t visited the Foynes Museum has a treat in store!

best regards

Gerry

“Through the Back Doors of the World in Ship that had Wings”
Vantage Press, New York, 1984
ISBN: 533-05818-X

[Reply]

Gerry McMahon June 4, 2011 at 7:46 am

I found the book below a great read on the setup of Pan Am’s global flying-boat network. William Masland was naviagator on the first test flight to Foynes in 1937 and had a long and distinguished carreer with Pan Am. I remember hearing this strikingly eloquent man interviewed in the 1980s about the 1937 flight.

Anyone who hasn’t visited the Foynes Nuseum has a treat in store!

best regards

Gerry

“Through the Back Doors of the World in Ship that had Wings”
Vantage Press, New York, 1984
ISBN: 533-05818-X

[Reply]

Michiel January 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

Read Ken Follet’s “Night over water”, romantic thriller on board the Clipper in the year 1939.
Good book with lot’s of on board details.

[Reply]

tommy December 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I just Googled images of Pan Am clipper since I’m reading a book “Night Overwater” by Ken Follett!
It describes the clipper pretty well but I do not know how accurate it is.
Southhampton, Foynes, & Botwood are mentioned as stops.

tommy

[Reply]

LaVonne Dahle December 7, 2010 at 9:37 am

My mother left Newfoundland in early September 1945 from Botwood via Pan Am. Does anyone know if she would have flown on a ‘Clipper’. I do have the ticket stubs. This was the only time in her life that she flew and she described it as like being in a large living room with couch’s, chairs, lamps etc. Sounds like a clipper to me but I’d like to know for sure. Is there any way to find out?

[Reply]

Gid Jones Reply:

My parents and I flew a Pan Am clipper from Lisbon to Miami in early 1942. We had been living in England. I remember little about the flight starting in London. We made several stops between Lisbon and Miami. I was quite young and only remember odd bits about the flight. Any info?

[Reply]

james clifford December 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I write for a local history magazine and am trying to find out what early Clipper flight the famed radio writer Carlton E. Morse was on. He lived near here and a movie he took of the flight was shown at the airport museum recently, but it was silent and no one seems to know anything about it.
James O. Clifford

[Reply]

PAT LOUGHRAN November 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

HAS ANYONE SEEN A PHOTO OF THE CLIPPER LANDING IN HYANNIS, MA, HARBOR SOMETIME IN 1947?
IF THERE IS ANY INFORMATION ON THIS TRIP, I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT IT.

THANK YOU

PAT

[Reply]

charlene Burn November 9, 2010 at 11:03 pm

My husband John Burn was on that flight as a crew member. He was severely injured and rescued Jane Froman. He subsequently had another crash in Puerto Rico after 2 engines failed after take off and later was hijacked to Cairo. He passed away 2 years ago.

[Reply]

John Fiore October 12, 2010 at 9:09 am

I’m trying to do some research for a friend who just acquired a carved whale’s tooth with the carving “John Punzabitz PAA (in the one winged logo) 1940, Horta Fayal (sp). Were these common souvenirs bought by passengers and crew? Was John Punzabitz a crew member or a passenger? If this info is available, would it be possible to determine the date of the flight or flights with his name. Any information that you could provide would be helpful. Great web site. Thanks for putting it up.

[Reply]

Rachealgrace Adams October 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm

If anyone knows the name of any Clipper ship carrying passengers to New York from Lisbon in 1939 or 1940 I would be greatly interested in such information. Am looking for a name and date of departure from Lisbon, either of those years. Preferably in 1940. I’m a writer. This is a central part of novel presently working on.
Have researched til eyes hurt…..Any and all information on such a Clipper Ship would be again greatly appreciated.
Sincerely, Rachael

[Reply]

Magge Gates Reply:

Check on ancestry.com subject: travel/transportation and click on Passengers
Arriving NY ports, fill in with name of passenger, dates 1940-1945 as I did and
like me should get list of clipper flights or just enter Clipper flights in search
box. Good luck.

[Reply]

Antony Edgar Reply:

Rachealgrace:
Are you still interested in some PAA flavor? My father was a passenger out of Lisbon to America in early 1940.

Please reply directly if interested.

Antony Edgar

[Reply]

Rachealgrace Adams Reply:

Forgive my replying so late. I was seriously ill for eight months. Back on my feet now and working on my novel again. Any information you can give for any Clipper Ship leaving Lisben in 1939 or 1940, prefer I940 if possible. I need which kind of Clipper, captain and crew if possible, how many passengers, I think only the Yankee Clippers flu then from Lisben to New York?

Sincerely, Racheal

[Reply]

Lynne Miller September 13, 2010 at 1:42 am

My brother, Robert N. Elliott, was a crew member on PanAm’s flight to Lisbon. I was 14 or 15 at the time so that I am going my ability to recall. I have no written records. I am now 84.
My brother was the flight engineer. He didn’t fly the plane. His duties involved doing a constant check on everything mechanical involved with keeping the plane up in the air. When he was through checking everything on his list he would start over, all the way to Lisbon and back.
I had a penpal I was writing to in France. I asked my brother to carry a letter to her for me and he refused. He said he was not allowed to carry any personal mail on those flights. That’s all I remember about it. The U.S. wasn’t yet involved in the war in Europe so I am guessing the year was 1940.
I remember that on one flight returning from Lisbon, according to my brother the plane was caught in a hurricane over the Atlantic. The instruments didn’t function at all and when they found a place to land, it turned out to be in Africa.
My brother died in a plane crash in September of 1973.

[Reply]

Magge Gates Reply:

Mail was always carried in bulk on Clippers but I suppose a separate letter was not allowed;
censors checked mail during those times. My courier dad was responsible for the delivery of
those bags of mail and other more confidential stuff during wartime 40s.

[Reply]

terry mc swiney July 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for a really great website,i have been to Foynes,really fasinating and well worth the trip.
I am very keen to build a scale model that would actually fly and i was wondering if you have any idea where i can obtain some plans.
Cheers,
Terry

[Reply]

John Howard June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for a fascinating website — I came across it while trying to find out about an interesting item that I inherited from my great uncle. It’s a US Dollar bill, with “American Clipper 3317″ and “31 May 1945″ written on it, along with several signatures. I was told that it was a souvenir of the restarting of Clipper flights across the Atlantic. Can anyone give me any further information or ideas? I would be very grateful, thanks!

[Reply]

admin Reply:

That was known as a short snorter; you have found a great little piece of history!

[Reply]

John Howard Reply:

Thank you very much for this information. I can now see that one of the “signatures” actually reads “short snorter”!

[Reply]

Magge April 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Great site, look forward to more interesting details of these flights. I am wanting to know
of the Yankee Clipper crash. I was told by my mom long ago that a courier friend of theirs
died in the mishap. Does anyone know where I can get reports on crash victims, dead and survivors?

Also, if anyone who worked at Foynes Terminal during WWII is still in Ireland, I’d love
to communicate to learn of those times.

[Reply]

Fernando Azevedo Reply:

Magge,
I can tell you that 1930’s singer Jane Froman was a survivor of the Yankee Clipper. She went on to finish her career in a wheelchair. When my family immigrated to the US, we flew in the Yankee Clipper from Horta in the Azores to New York. The Yankee Clipper crashed in Lisbon Harbor about two years later. There are alot of great websites out there, including this one, with lots of great info on the Pan Am flying boats.
Good Luck, Fernando

[Reply]

Magge Gates Reply:

Thanks Fernando for your info. I’m excited to learn of the
experience of someone who actually flew in the Yankee Clipper
that I can contact. Were you old enough at the time to recall
details of the flight? Do you recall anything about mail pouches
being carried? Any Americans onboard, in uniform or out?
My dad was required to wear civilian clothes as a courier during
wartime and before. Thanks for any little details you can offer
from those times and glad you made it safely here.

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David M April 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I had only ever seen references to these amazing aircraft in the movies, and I accidentally ran across your excellent website and spent an hour here! What a wonderful adventure it must have been to travel on these aircraft, especially compared to today’s cattle-car mentality. Thank you for an enjoyable and educational hour.
Best wishes,
David M

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Fernando Azevedo Reply:

Magge,I’m sorry to say I can’t add anymore info to my previous e-mail. I was only 18 months old when my family and I flew to the U.S. Conversations in later years were vague and of little interest to me. It was not untill I was well into my senior years and had read Ken Follett’s great book “Night Over Water” that my interest grew and by then both my parents and my sister had passed away. Sorry this reply is so late in coming. Good luck in your quest. Regards, Fernando

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Rui April 5, 2010 at 6:35 pm

To the site administrator – thank you very much for this site and for having so many wonderful pictures here in such high quality!

I happen to live near the spot where the only fatal accident involving a 314 took place. The docks where the clippers moored in the 40s were converted to the site of the world exhibition of 1998 and is now the location of the lisbon oceanarium. Unfortunately, none of the original buildings stand but at least the dock remains.

Kind regards!

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Magge Reply:

Rui, love to get reports of the Yankee Clipper crash rescue, names of dead and survivors.
My parents’ good friend died on that flight (I know singer Jane Froman survived with bad
injuries). Any ideas who I should contact?

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admin Reply:

I am preparing a complete article about the crash of the Yankee Clipper on the Tagus River in Lisbon on February 22, 1943, during Trip Number 9035, including names of the passengers and crew. I hope to publish it shortly.

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Capt. Tommy Carroll, PAA ret. Reply:

I am interested in your information on the crash R.O.D. Sullivan the pilot in command of the flight. I am doing a video on the China Clipper first trans Pacific flight on 11/22/35. He was the copilot on that flight. I want to tie in all the crew members of that first Pacific flight, The Capt. Ed Musick was killed in Pago Pago, The navigator Fred Noonan when down with Amelia Earhart. Sullivan crashed in the Tagus River, I would like to read your article. Still researching the other crew members of the Pacific Flight.

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Jose Guedes Reply:

Hi, Tommy

I am a former TAP Portugal A340 captain, now retired (like you) and at the moment I am researching the crash of the Yankee Clipper on the Tagus river, Lisbon, back in 1943.
I wonder if you could help me on a few technical details. If the answer is yes, I will proceed with the questions, either in this site or directly by email, if I can have your adress.
Thank you very much
Best Regards
Jose Guedes

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Tommy Carroll Reply:

Capt. Jose Guedes, Thanks for your response. I found the info I needed for my China Clipper video. You can see it on my website. Now I am working on the Dixie Clipper’s first passenger flight across the Atlantic on June 28,1939. I might call on you for some info on Tagus River crash latter on.
I am working with a Pan Am team getting a re-union in Monaco Nov. Guides1.2.3-2012. It will be for all Pan Am employees.
I am making the B314 Dixie Clipper for that reunion. I would be happy to exchange information. I worked for PAA from 1955 to 1986 went to United when they bought our 747 SP and the Pacific routes, retired in 1991

Glen Osterhout Reply:

Hello,
My Father, Merwin William Osterhout, was the Navigator on this flight. He survived the accident and was involved in helping Jane Froman out of the water. I do not know all the details, however, my Mother said that he was the one who saved her life.
I would love to get as much information about what happened as possible. Can you please let me know where a complete account of the accident is, or when your article is completed.
My e-mail is gosterho@yahoo.com
thank you,
Glen Osterhout

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Hans Kremer March 29, 2010 at 12:19 am

I’ve read contradictory information about the Yankee Clipper flight that originated in New York on May 20, 1939.

On May 23, 1939 did it land in Southampton, or did it just circle Southampton and landed it at Hythe?

HK

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James Armstrong December 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Help!!! I’m urgently trying to find a photo I saw 4-5 years ago, not sure where. It showed three large seaplanes, probably docked in Portugal. They were lined up in a row – one had USA flag on it, one had a big swastika, and I think the 3rd was British. I am sure this was just before or even during WW2, as Portugal was neutral. Any help will be greatly appreciated. The USA plane was likely a Pan Am Martin M-130 Clipper or a Pan Am Boeing 314 Clipper. I knew a radio-navigator who flew the route into Portugal at this time. Thanx, desperate in Arizona, JA

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Pam September 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Does anyone have the crew list of the first flight?

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admin Reply:

Yes, I will be publishing crew lists and other information soon. The website is still under development. :-)

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John Potts Reply:

My wife’s Grandfather was Frederick Stanley Mockford, originator of the “Mayday” signal whilst Radio Officer at Croydon Airport, London. He was in attendance at the “Transatlantic Rhythm” Cele bration Reception at Claridges Hotel, London on the 8th July 1937 and had the pleasure of meeting all of the crew of The Clipper and to get their autographs. Being a senior manager for Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Company, he often went on various flights regarding wireless reception, etc. Would you be kind enough to inform me IF he was a passenger on the Clipper flight as I am trying to write his autobiography. Many Thanks.

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Geoff Gwynne Reply:

John,
Stanley Mockford was my Mother’s brother. I would be very interested to read his autobiography when you have finished putting pen to paper.

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John Potts Reply:

Geoff,
Sorry to have taken so long to reply. The book still requires much information before publishing but alas, much is still slow to obtain or very near impossible. We have spent years looking for various information and non-existant birth records to fill the gaps between the lines, as one might say.

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Mike Walling Reply:

I’m writing abook about sea-air rescues and would like to incorporate some of the material from this great site. Please let me know if you will allow me to use it and, if so, how do you want the attribution to read? I may be reached either through the e-mail address above or via phone (978.562.9873). Thanks for considering my request.
With best regards,
Mike

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joe j August 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

could you posibly tell me or point to a website for passenger load the clippers averaged on the atlantic run????????????? you never seem to read about how many people crossed in those early days before we really were involved in WW II…………… i realized that mail must have been a big load factor… because once the route to new zealand was opened they were also sending mail from there and the far east……………..thanks fo you time and trouble…joe

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Jamie Dodson July 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm

If I had the money, I’d be at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum for Foynes Festival 6th – 12th July 2009. (http://www.flyingboatmuseum.com/) Margret O’Shawesse has a beautiful museum and I’ve always wanted to go there. Ah well, maybe next year. If I sell a few more books.
Cheers! Jamie

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Herve February 15, 2009 at 6:41 pm

GOOD

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