b-314-cutaway-interior

The flying boat dominated international airline service in the 1920s and 1930s, and the Pan Am Clippers were the most famous of all.

Pan Am chief Juan Trippe called the airplanes “clippers” to link his airline with the maritime heritage of the world’s great ocean liners.

Although aerodynamically less efficient than streamlined landplanes, flying boats could provide service to any city with a sheltered harbor, which made them the ideal international airliner at a time when few cities had runways capable of handling large land planes.

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.

Sikorsky S-40

The first Pan American plane to be called a “Clipper,” the S-40 grew out of Juan Trippe and Charles Lindbergh’s desire for a strong, sturdy, high-capacity four-engined transport to serve as an ocean liner of [...]

Sikorsky S-42

The Development of the S-42 The Sikorsky S-40 had laid the groundwork for Pan Am’s Latin American route system, but Pan Am was never fully satisfied with its compromise design,.  Even before the S-40 first [...]

Martin M-130

The Martin M-130 is the airliner that gave Pan Am the true ability to span the world’s oceans. Often called a “China Clipper” after the most famous of the three M-130’s built for Pan American, [...]

Boeing B-314

The Boeing clipper is widely regarded at the summit of flying boat technology.  It inaugurated the world’s first transatlantic  heavier-than-air service, and carried passengers and cargo around the globe in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Large, [...]

42 Comments

  1. 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

    [Reply]

  2. 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.

    [Reply]

  3. 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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

  4. 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)

    [Reply]

  5. 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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    eric Reply:

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

    [Reply]

    Jamie Dodson Reply:

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

    Cheers!
    Jamie

    [Reply]

    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!

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

  6. 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.

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

  7. 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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    ELMER HARBRON Reply:

    JANET

    THANK YOU FOR REPLYING TO MY INQUIRY.

    MY E MAIL ADDRESS IS
    E[email protected]

    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

    [Reply]

    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)

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    Suzy Reply:

    Very interesting stuff! I’ll let you know what I come up with 🙂

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    Jamie Dodson Reply:

    Janet,

    I’d love a copy. THX.

    Jamie

    [Reply]

  8. 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

    [Reply]

  9. 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!

    [Reply]

  10. 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

    [Reply]

    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]

  11. 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]

  12. 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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

  13. 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, [email protected] 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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

  14. 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

    [Reply]

  15. 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!!!

    [Reply]

  16. 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.

    [Reply]

  17. 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]

  18. 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

    [Reply]

  19. 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?

    [Reply]

  20. 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

    [Reply]

  21. 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

    [Reply]

  22. 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]

  23. 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]

  24. 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]

  25. 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]

  26. 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]

  27. 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]

  28. 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]

  29. 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]

  30. 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]

  31. 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

    [Reply]

  32. 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…

    [Reply]

  33. 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?

    [Reply]

    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?

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

    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 [email protected] so you can get and send pictures and wordspell etc.

    [Reply]

  34. 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.

    [Reply]

  35. 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.

    [Reply]

    Dave Gault Reply:

    Are they 16mm films?

    I might be interestedor know someone who is.

    [Reply]

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

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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-

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

    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?

    [Reply]

    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

    [Reply]

  37. 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.

    [Reply]

    Pete Doherty Reply:

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

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

    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?

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

    Dave Gault Reply:

    His name is John McKee.

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

    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….) 🙂

    [Reply]

    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.

  38. 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

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*