TCM will be airing "China Clipper" today at 2 pm Eastern.
"When importer Dave Logan's late arrival in Shanghai ruins a business deal, he realizes there is enormous potential for a commercial air service. Even though his wife, Jean, who calls herself Skippy, and his boss, Jim Horn, do their best to discourage him, he joins war buddies Dad Brunn, an airplane designer, and pilot Tom Collins, who start an air passenger line between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Undeterred when the airline fails, they start a second airline in Key West, Florida, to deliver mail throughout the Caribbean, and Hap Stuart, another pilot buddy, signs up. Finally, Dave's obsession with the airline drives Skippy away. Over the years, the company keeps expanding, always battling opposition from regulatory agencies and financial backers. Determined to start a trans-Pacific airline, Dave drives his men so hard that some of the pilots, including Hap, quit because of the stress. Eventually, Skippy has a change of heart and to prove it, she gets a job with Dave's company and works by his side day and night. Hap comes back too, impressed by Dave's new benefits plan for pilots. Finally everything is ready for the maiden Pacific voyage of the China Clipper. Dad sees his plane take off, but the overwork has taken its toll and he dies shortly after. Dad's death hits Dave hard. When the China Clipper hits a terrible storm off the China coast, he decides to cancel the flight, even though it means missing the deadline, but he's too late. Hap, the plane's pilot, has already taken off. Luckily, they land safely in China with five minutes to spare, and Skippy and Dave discuss a second honeymoon."
Loosely based on the Pan Am Clippers, and made with the co-operation of Pan Am, should be of interest to those interested in the early days of airline service.