To anyone who loves aviation, Pan Am is a name that cannot be ignored. Without Pan Am, there may not have been a 707 or a 747; without Pan Am, transpacific flying may not have been possible until much later....in its series of Firsts, Pan Am shaped a lot of the aviation world; its legacy is tremendous and many, including rivals, will acknowledge that if they had to name one airline that had the most influence on commercial aviation in general, it would have to be Pan American World Airways! Pan Am's route map was an absolute beauty to behold, especially with its spread around the world (hence its slogan in the '70s - "You call it the world, we call it Home") with destinations ranging from Tehran to Denpasar to Guam to a host of African destinations (Dakar, Monrovia, Lagos, Douala, Contonou, Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Accra, Abidjan, etc.).
My first Pan Am flight was PA841 from SFO
and GUM on a 747-121 in 1976. Between then and 1991, I managed to accumulate over 360,000 miles, many of those coming from the very end. Even towards the end, Pan Am's international First Class still maintained quite a bit of its original luster...there was still lobster thermidor and chateaubriand carved to order from the cart (as opposed to the microwaved filet on AA
in international First today). Pan Am had some of the best employees out there as well as some of the worst. Their staff were worldy and experienced, but at the same time, could also be arrogant and aloof.
Even though it's been more than 13 years since Dec 4 1991, I still miss the Blue Meatball. The only way that one can still hope to experience some of the magic of the old Pan Am is to fly Delta or United and hope that a few of those ex-Pan Amers will be working the flight...you can usually spot them a mile away, with their napkin folding, their careful preparation of the serving trolley, the string of pearls, or the myriad number of foreign languages they speak...
Pan Am.....Gone But Not Forgotten