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Pan Am IGS  
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6431 times:

Can someone fill me in on the history and background behind the Pan Am Internal German Service? I assume that its existence and operation was in large part related to either West Germany's incomplete sovereignty up until the early 90's or the political situation of West Berlin (or possibly both.)

Was Pan Am IGS a division of Pan Am or a separate legal entity? Who crewed its planes -- Americans or Germans? (Or PA regulars, for that matter, regardless of nationality?) What planes did they operate? I know they flew 727's and I believe 737's ... anything else? Were their operations regulated by the German government (i.e., did they have pre-deregulation-style route assignments?)

Finally, were there any other instances of foreign carriers conducting extensive operations within another country? It seems like it would have taken an unlikely confluence of events for such a situation, but perhaps this is a more common arrangement than it seems.

Whew. Those were a lot of questions. Thanks to anyone who wants to take a stab at them.

[Edited 2003-09-24 05:43:36]

New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineDc863 From Romania, joined Jun 1999, 1579 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6383 times:

PAs IGS was part of Pan Am. The crew were American with American/German cabin crew. From what i've heard the crew bases in Germany were very independent minded, a sort of local club that was sneered upon by the snobbish PA management. I think PA flew with DC7s then 727-100s then to 737-200s by the 80s. Flight crews had to be very good at navigating because of the East German border not to mention very proficient at IFR because of the weather. One cargo flight a 727-21 crashed in East Germany on approach to West Berlin in 1966 during a snowshower at night with very poor visibility. The bodies of the flight crew( the only ones aboard) were given to West German authorities however the wreckage of the 727 was kept.

User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 27614 posts, RR: 81
Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6345 times:

After WW 2 Occupied Germany was a divided country, in 4 parts, US, British, French and Russian (there was no DDR - East Germany - at that time).

Berlin, as the capital, was equally divided into the 4 parts and was disconnected from the rest of non-Russian Germany, totally surrounded by Russian occupied land.

The occupying powers were allowed to fly their national airlines from their various "parts" of Germany to other cities, and especially Berlin. Thus, Pan Am got Frankfurt/Berlin.

I'm not sure of the company structure, but the planes were flown as if they were operating in the US - Pan Am planes and crews, etc.

Same applied to British Airways and Air France, from "their" parts of Germany.

Somehow, I'm not sure how or when, TWA got into the act, also flying Franfurt/Berlin.

When West Germany became "unoccupied" there was still the matter of Berlin, because the Russians (the DDR) wouldn't allow Lufthansa to fly there, unless the West recognized the DDR with Berlin as it's capital.

So Pan Am (and TWA) had an effective license to print money. I flew on both Pan Am and TWA to Berlin several times, the planes were never less than full, and both airlines had a terrible reputation for over-booking.

I was off-loaded at least twice because of over-booking.

But there was no choice.



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6326 times:

Dc863, interesting story about that crash. Thanks very much for sharing. Obviously the East Germans learned nothing about airliner design from studying the wreckage. That's also interesting to hear about the mindset of IGS crews -- I can imagine the nature of their relationship to PA HQ, and it seems so fitting. Based on what I've read, it was fairly common to Americans stationed in Germany (one way or another) during the Cold War.

Mariner, great information. I think you answered just about all of my questions. You seem to know quite a bit about the politics of the situation, so let me direct one more question to you: did the West/West Germany never recognize the DDR? I thought that would have been part of Willy Brandt's ostpolitik in the 70's. I'm surprised that they never let LH to fly the routes.

New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineAcvitale From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 922 posts, RR: 10
Reply 4, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6252 times:

The flights were flown with US based cockpit crew and depending on the flight it could be German, Polish, or US based FAs.

The flights were flown with ATR42s 737-200s 727-200s and A310s. There was an occasional 747-100 or 747-200 on the FRA-LHR route.

Pan Am occupied the top two floors of several west Berlin hotels full time

I miss the glory days.

A C Vitale

User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6159 times:

Reading the other thread today about weird fifth freedom routes, I'm wondering if there have been any other cases of carriers conducting extensive operations within another country. A logical possibility would have been Aeroflot in one of the satellite states during the Cold War -- on any occasions did this take place?

I may start another thread dedicated solely to this question, but I'd certainly like to know if there was a Communist analogue to Pan Am IGS during that era. But don't get me wrong, I'm also interested in any other instances of this happening.

New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4706 posts, RR: 39
Reply 6, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 6109 times:

Concerning the 727 crash in East Germany, there was a theory that the aircraft was actually brought down by a stray artillery shell from a Soviet military exercise by accident.
Under this point of view, it makes a lot of sense that the Soviets kept the 727 wreckage...

Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6062 times:

Ex PanAm IGS pilot here... I was based there several times - 727, early 1970s.
IGS was established to link West Berlin to West Germany. Three airways (named "corridors") were available. PanAm normally operated flights from Tempelhof to Frankfurt, Munich and Cologne (scheduled flights). These corridors were low altitude (below 10,000 feet) - no deviation for any reasons were permitted, including weather.
Berlin corridors were only open to civilian and military airplanes of the three occupation powers in West Berlin: United Kingdom, France and USA. West Germans (Lufthansa) could not operate to Berlin.
The pilots were required to be citizen of these three countries, but we had cabin crews - majority of Germans, some other Europeans and Americans were based in Berlin (some based in Frankfurt)... We also operated some charter flights to other destinations in Europe.
Be aware that there were other US air carriers operating from Berlin, but from normally from Tegel airport. Modern Air (CV-990), then at a later time, AeroAmerica (B-720) then Air Berlin (B-707, then later B-737). Air Berlin then became a German airline, which is now still in operations.
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper - PanAm 1969-1991...

[Edited 2003-09-26 17:00:44]

[Edited 2003-09-26 17:02:52]

User currently offlineVimanav From India, joined Jul 2003, 1538 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6011 times:
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Dear B747Skipper

The Pan Am pilots on the IGS service were considered the looniest of the entire Pan Am pilot crowd if I have heard right. But they got away with their weirdest capers due to the fact that they were excellent flyers and had no major mishaps while flying through generally mucky weather.

I have heard stories some of the most eccentric pilots in the Pan Am line up on the IGS including 'Chicken man' who kept a rubber chicken as a talisman, of 'the Deacon (!!!)', of another who allowed a stewardess to fly in the FO's seat and of 'Beaver man'. Also have heard of a famous PA watering hole called the Hundekehle and terrific tales of the Cuckoo's nest. Were you one of those mentioned above? Its great to hear an ex IGS pilot on A.net especially since I have been fascinated as a kid of Pan Am and its long list of distinguished pilots.


Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 5976 times:

I was IGS 727 pilot in my "early days" with PanAm... never flew as captain in these days, I started as a flight engineer then came back as co-pilot, but, it is true, the captains were outstanding... I owe much of my experience in what I learned from them.
I only left because I wanted to fly the 707 and Atlantic routes... But I was in the "club" of the IGS troops, and within PanAm, we had our reputation. My favorite "restaurant - water hole" was not in Berlin, but Frankfurt, near our hotel downtown, the "Baseler Eck", still exists today, 75 % of the customers are US crews, it is worth visiting, great food, great pictures on the walls, and if you are a former IGS guy, the "schnapps" is on the house, still...
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper

User currently onlineBostonBeau From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 482 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5915 times:

I may be wrong, but didn't the IGS originally begin as an offshoot of AOA, that was then taken over by PAA in the merger? I think it is "Skygods" that has a fairly lengthy section on the IGS.

User currently offlineDc863 From Romania, joined Jun 1999, 1579 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5867 times:

B747Skipper, you must've been one of the last groups to be hired in 1969. PA didn't hire flight crews again until 1980. How did the National merger affect your seniority? A friend of mine never made Captain because of it.

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5834 times:

Got actually hired in 1968, but not could be released from Air Force until 1969, got on furlough 1973 (October War), recalled, then again furlough because of National merge in 1980... recalled again... I was lucky to get assignments on furlough thru PanAm lease out and sales of airplanes to other airlines, who acquired our old airplanes, and needed crews... I flew a lot for ONA - Overseas National (DC8 captain) during various furlough periods.
I bypassed the seniority as instructor... simulator and line check captain, thanks to my Air Force experience, but JFK was too senior for captains, so I was MIA based (and the Academy) most of the time...
IGS was very senior operation too... despite 727 equipment... then it got to be very junior with the 737, because of dollar exchange lost a lot against German marks in the late 1970s...
IGS... nostalgia... but happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineDc863 From Romania, joined Jun 1999, 1579 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5820 times:

I've heard that SFO was pretty senior as well.

User currently offlineStefandotde From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5782 times:

AV Vitale: "I miss the glory days."

We don't miss it. There were not only 310, 727-200, 737, ATR 72 - there also have been the old 727-100. Very old and loud planes.
No service on FRA-BER - routes, PA-monopoly on that route.
One word: HORRIBLE!

British and AF did better jobs.
We were happy when an airline called "Euroberlin France" got traffic-rights for that route.

We are happy that FRA-BER is no more PA-Monopoly-Route any more.

RIP - PA, please don't awake anymore!

User currently offlineJsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2397 posts, RR: 14
Reply 15, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5747 times:

Out of curiosity: when did Berlin flights switch from Tempelohof to Tegel?

I've seen photos of Pan Am 727s and BEA One-Elevens landing at Tempelhof, and it amazes me that such a little airport could handle jets of those size. The planes were literally flying in between blocks of flats - even more dramatic than at Kai Tak!

When were most flights moved to TXL?

User currently offlineStefandotde From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5734 times:

It was in 1975 - Tempelhof is still in use but with commuter-planes only.
So Berlin has 3 airports: Tempelhof (City Airport) Tegel (Frequent Flyer Airport) and Schönefeld (for holiday trips).

User currently offlineSkyhawk From United States of America, joined May 2001, 1066 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5652 times:

Of all the mentions of IGS cabin crews, nobody has mentioned that as of 1982 there were no American nationals flying the IGS flights. In fact when I transferred from MIA to JFK in June,1982 there were quite a few former IGS crew members in my base initiation.

The restaurant that B747skipper spoke about does indeed still exist. In fact not too long ago, I went to Frankfurt along with my husband and son. Of course we had to have dinner there(my son liked it so much we had to go back the next night too). The owners' name is Gurt(our German members, did I spell that right?) remembered me after so many years! In the years when we were flying in there, every night you would find a mix of crews from all over the world eating together, PAA, World, ElAl, I can't begin to name how many there were. If you happen in there, take a look at one of their walls. You'll find stickers from companies all over the globe.

B747skipper-you bring back so many good memories when I read one of your posts! Someday I'd like to sit down and talk.

User currently offlineAcvitale From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 922 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5612 times:


While I question if you are even old enough to remember. If you did then you would remember it was because of NAZI attempts to dominate the world that the Pan Am/TWA/BA/Air France rights were accorded.

Further, during the communist blockade the Americans kept your countrymen with food, water and clothing. If not you would be speaking Russian right now.

Finally, The 727-100s were not in use with Pan Am any longer then any other carrier. The JT-8s on the 727-100s 727-200s and 737-200s are the same that the national carrier Lufthanasa flew.

I think you nationalistic ramblings continue to show your ethnocentric tendicies. I can only hope that as you grow older moderation and temperment will enter your characteristics.

Pan Am provided the most IGS service of any Non German carrier. We flew hourly shuttles between Frankfurt and Berlin and many other cities.

The comments of the previous poster whom alluded that PA overbooked more then other carriers were not accurate. PA, BA, AF, and TW all used a standard formula. The bigger problem was the high tendencies to no show by pax. Flight could often be overbooked at 30% and go out with 15-20% of the seats open.

The germans whom I met there were all genuine good people. Germany has been going through it's own struggles with re unification. The conflicts between balancing the green parties with the needs of business and the conflicts between work and standards in the former east with west.

I would be happy to discuss in private any of the above via email. I was there when the wall came down. I loved my time with the German people. While I know you frequently post anti-American view and retoric I am willing to bet you are intelligent enough to realize that generalizations and demonizations of groups due to race, creed, color or nationality are not healthy.

A C Vitale

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5592 times:

Dear Acvitale -
You took the words out of my mouth, I was going to write a little note to our friend Stenfandotde... and remind him of the Berlin Airlift (1949) where PanAm basically did an outstanding contribution in feeding West Berliners, even flying coal so they would be warm in the harsh German winter they suffered.
We were Americans, yes, flying the IGS, with a USA flag on the tail, but the West Berliners considered the IGS their airline... many of our flight attendants were German, many passengers were German...
Back then, the Soviets were "tough cookies" and, not exactly very friendly neighbors. Maybe Stefandotde should, back then, have defected to the DDR... When I was often in Berlin, 1969-1973... 20 years after the airlift, as PanAm crews, we were still hailed by the population... but now, more than 50 years have gone by... and now the tune is "US go home"...
I love and respect the German culture, Beethoven's music, Bertold Brecht theater, Heidelberg or the "Schwarzwald"... even speak some very bad "Deutsch"... If Germans wish US to go home, auf wiedersehen, liebe Freunden... aber wihr gehen nichts fergassen, das wihr sein nicht mehr wilkommen...
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5584 times:

Dear Skyhawk -
Always a pleasure to talk IGS... but many forget what it was...
Did you remember Leila Ikan...? She was a Lebanese-born flight attendant, based LHR... I got married to her (so you would know who I am), and you probably will remember she got an accident with her car in L.A. while driving to get me at the LAX airport in 1976... I was the widower she left...
I appreciate the IGS mention in the forum... so many forget what we did there and how much we did to get Germany back on their feet, I got back briefly with Aero America flying 720s during a furlough, was then based TXL...
And I miss Berlin... what a great city it was...
Incidentally, I was scheduled to deadhead back on Clipper 103 (Lockerbie) but thanks to a screwed-up scheduling call, I did miss the flight...
I stayed with PanAm until the last day in DEC 1991... I got stranded in FRA... Since 1993, I am flying in Argentina, love it here, got remarried and I have two kids, a boy 14 (future airline pilot) and a girl 13 (future tango dancer) - I adopted the two of them... Took me a long time to forget Leila...
Keep the IGS memories alive, I appreciate...  Big grin
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineDc863 From Romania, joined Jun 1999, 1579 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5536 times:

It's hard to ever come across another carrier to rival Pan Am. They were pioneers. My fondest memories flying on that carrier were the many 707 and 747 flights. I was on the first 747 flight from JFK-Orly in 1970, my first 747 flight. I was also onboard the SP that circled the globe in Oct. 1977- now that was a trip!

User currently offlineSkyhawk From United States of America, joined May 2001, 1066 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5529 times:

Hi again Skipper, You were supposed to be on 103 also? I was flying LHR's back then and was supposed to be the uplift on 103. Luckily I had pneumonia and had been grounded for almost 2 weeks when it happened. I'm sorry to say that I never got to meet your Leila. I am one of the ones who came from National, so I didn't become a "blue baller" until 1980. Funny thing about coming from National though, in late 1971 I applied to PanAm. Went through the whole interview, language test and all that. Finally at the end of the day they told me that I was too short(their minimum at the time was 5'3" and I am just 5'1". Funny to me that in the long run I got to fly for the company that I wanted all along.

When the wall came down I was in Hamburg on a 5 day trip. Tried all that month to get to Berlin to get a piece of the wall for my son to remember his German heritage. Unfortunately I never did make it. I remember well the pictures that were in our Clipper paper of the IGS crews handing out the breakfast snacks to all the East Germans as they came across. It brought tears to my eyes as I realized how lucky we all are here.

User currently offlineMilesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2078 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5525 times:

Pan Am operated the US Intra German Services to and from Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin. Air France and BEA also operated Berlin Service to West Germany.

In the November 1955 OAG, Pan Am operated flights DC-4 Flights daily between Berlin and Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hanover, Cologne, Munich, and Dusseldorf; as well as service between Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

When 707's and DC-8's were introduced on Pan Am International Flights, DC-6B's replaced the DC-4's. They were replaced by 727-21's. Later, 727-221's and 737's were also used. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the reunification of Germany, Lufthansa was allowed to fly to Berlin, and the Pan Am service was discontinued.

User currently offlinePatroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5526 times:

Speaking of the IGS, I just found some memorabilia from PanAm in some forgotten boxes at home... Even though I only flew twice between Stuttgart and Berlin in 1987 (outbound with a PA 722 "Clipper Endeavour", return with a BA 737-200 "River Severn") I always had a big interest in the development of these services. Unfortunately I missed the days when the BAC 1-11 and Tridents of BEA/BA were still flying to THF and TXL, but I still saw TWA's 727-100 flying from STR and FRA to TXL. If I recall right, TWA were the only ones to provide a warm (!) meal on the 1h flight through the corridor.

In 1991 I was studying in Mainz and was coincidentally at the FRA airport terrace when the final PanAm flight left Germany (it was somewhere in November I think...?). I didn't know this before and was quite sad to see the staff at the airport taking down the PanAm logos and removing the airlines stuff from the counters. It was a nice move however to see that the last PA 747 made a low pass over the runway as a farewll to Germany.

For the German speakers amongst you, there is an excellent book by Hans von Przychowski, called "Luftbrücken nach Berlin - Der alliierte Flugverkehr 1945-1990", published by Brandenburgisches Verlagshaus, ISBN 3-89488-097-X which gives a good overview on the allied commercial services between West Germany and Berlin.

Best regards,


25 Acvitale : 747Skipper and Skyhawk.... I as you may have guessed am a former PAer as well. I live in sunny S Florida. If you ever get up this way drop me a line i
26 Csavel : This is a wonderful post, I love hearing all the reminiscences of flying IGS. One question I have, why was the flight restricted to 10,000 feet? I ass
27 Mariner : Activale: You say: "The comments of the previous poster who alluded that PA overbooked more than other carriers were not accurate." I did not say this
28 Post contains images B747skipper : Dear Csavel - xxx The "corridors" were designed, and agreed upon (with the Soviets) in 1946, in the days of unpressurized DC-3 and DC-4s... flying bel
29 Acvitale : Mariner, 30% is not a lot of overbooking if you average 85% load factor when fully booked at 30% overbooking. As with any case of overbooking it all c
30 Post contains images Mariner : Activale: I appreciate what you say, but my point was simply that Pan Am had a "terrible reputation" for overbooking. Howsumever, I am fairly amazed b
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