In the history of Commercial Aviation, there is no airline more influential, important, and better known than Pan American World Airways. It was not the first American passenger airline, but it represented a new adventurous image of aviation in the world.
Pan Am’s history is inseparable from the life and career of Juan Trippe, the company’s founder and guiding visionary for five decades. Trippe, a former Navy pilot, formed the Aviation Corporation of America on June 2, 1927, to offer air services into the Caribbean.
Pan American revolutionized air travel, by becoming the first airline to enter the jet era. When other airlines were reluctant to use jet planes, Trippe believed that Jet planes are the future of modern aviation. He persuaded Boeing and Douglas, the country’s largest aircraft manufacturers to build the Boeing 707, which set the commercial jet age of modern aviation.
Pan American was known setting standards for excellent service and was one of the first airlines in the world to introduce cabin attendants, who were later known as “Air Hostesses”.
They were operating long transatlantic routes, and was one of the first airline to introduce round the world trips. The introduction of Jet planes, greatly increased the range of Pan Am and fleet and allowed them to expand to Europe to as far as Asia!! They were also one of the first airlines to offer paid packaged tours.
In 1965, Trippe wanted a bigger aircraft to carry more number of passengers at affordable costs. He persuaded Boeing to build the famous 747 Jumbo Jets according to his specifications which could carry 490 Passengers. Yes! It was Trippe who influenced in making the “Queen of Skies”!
With an order of 25 Jets, Boeing delivered the first jumbo jet in 1967. The 747s were a massive success, It brought down the costs of commercial aviation and made flying affordable to the masses. The privilege of flying was no longer limited only to the upper strata of the society!
With large fleet of Jumbo Jets, Now Pan Am were flying to a large number of countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. They also operated Atlantic and Pacific round the world routes!
Pan American revolutionized air travel by achieving a number of first milestones, which established the face of modern aviation, Here is a brief timeline of the milestones…
1927: First American Airline to Operate International Air Service.
1928: First American Airline to use Radio Communications and Multiple Flight Crews.
1929: First Airline to employ cabin attendants and serve meal afloat.
1932: First Airline to sell International Air tours.
1935: First Airline to develop and employ long-range weather forecasting. In this year, Pan Am became the first airline in the world to start Scheduled Transpacific International Flights!
1939: First Airline to start Scheduled Transatlantic Flights
1942: First Airline to complete a Round the World Flight!! Also became the first airline to operate international flights with all cargo aircraft!
1944: First Airline to begin low cost, mass transportation on a worldwide basis!
1947: First airline to begin scheduled around the world flight service
1958: First airline to fly the Boeing 707 jet plane. Enters into the commercial Jet Age.
1960: First Airline to introduce DC-8 Jets
1961: First airline to introduce worldwide marketing service to shippers and importers.
1962: First airline to operate 1,00,000 transatlantic flights!
1962: First airline to develop and introduce Global Computerized Reservation System (PANAMAC).
1964: Became the first all-jet airline
1966: Orders and Specifies the Boeing 747 Jumbo jets.
1967: First airline to use automatic landing and approach systems!
1968: First airline to transmit engine data and information using air-ground data link system
1970: First airline to operate the Boeing 747 in regularly scheduled service. The first airline to operate Air-Ground-Satellite conditions.
1972: Pan Am Builds the world’s largest airport terminal- Pan AM Worldport, JFK New York.
1972: The first airline to employ electronic security screening for passengers.
1974: First airline to employ ground proximity warning system
1976: First airline to operate Boeing 747SP and create a world record distance revenue flight!
1978: First airline to introduce new separate classes: Clipper Class, Business class and Economy class.
And this how modern and commercial era of aviation with Jet Age began with more than 8million people able to fly every day currently!! Although Pan Am shut down its operations in 1991 owing to bankruptcy due to US Oil Crisis, Repeated Terrorist attacks due to it being an American Icon and US Civil Aviation deregulation, It still lives on as the Airline which made commercial air travel affordable to the mass and served over 86 Countries in every continent! No Airline has still been able to match what Pan Am did, Nor there will be any.