Ryanair01
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:05 am

Introduction

So here is a very different type of trip report. Recently I have been clearing out a lot of things from my childhood, which has included finding a treasure trove of belongings I’d forgotten about, including from a journey I made in 1985 when I was a young kid.

I was an airline brat. I didn’t have any particular interest in aviation, but I was lucky to be extremely familiar with it.

This particular trip was not long after my dad and mum had divorced. My mum took a trip back to the UK and took me along too. We’d flown over from Australia on a Qantas 747SP to LAX before changing to a British Airways 747. Unfortunately I don’t really remember anything from those flights, I suspect some ‘may make you drowsy’ tablets could have been slipped into my drink!

I do however have keep sakes from the return, which have brought back all kinds of lovely memories that I decided to write down. For better or worse, I thought I’d share them on here as maybe they will jog other's memories. So if you fancy reading on, can I suggest you click below to get some boarding music in the background https://youtu.be/p-JBhdXlyQ8 (go on) :spin:

NB: Please note many of the old photos in this trip report are not mine (you can tell mine, they're the really blurry ones).

First sector

Flight: Pan Am Clipper 121
Aircraft: 747 Classic
From: London Heathrow
To: Los Angeles
When: October 1985 (I can’t find the exact date)
Class: Cabin Class (Economy)

Flight 121's listing in the timetable
Image

My family had worked for Pan Am since the days of Stratocruisers and enjoyed the fantastic opportunity of working all around the world. Ultimately they settled in Melbourne (Australia), before leaving Pan Am when moving to Sydney. After dad and mum split up, mum ended up seeking part time work out of the industry for a bit, but still very much kept in touch with her former Pan Am colleagues.

So after checking in, we went to some Pan Am offices at Heathrow Terminal 3. I remember going up what seemed like a long flight of stairs between the check in and arrivals buildings (I maybe wrong). One of mum’s close friends had become management and he took us around various offices where people she knew worked with lots of, “oh where are living now?”. I remember being made I big fuss of, “that can’t be your boy, he’s got so big”.

Pan Am Check In desk at LHR Terminal 3 circa early 80s
Image

He then walked us through to our departure gate, which was on the distant pier. Along the way they quizzed me on which country airlines came from, I remember there being lots of TWA and Pan Am planes all lined up.

My mum’s friend pre boarded us, walking on board and telling the purser who he knew to look after us.

Boarding Pass Wallet, pass long lost
Image

The purser was a lovely lady and as I will describe later on, she did look after us.

At the time Pan Am was refurbishing their 747 fleet, which was described in the timetable that for some reason got kept as a souvenir.

Timetable
Image
Image
Image

I have no idea if our plane was a 747-100 or 747-200. It was however in the billboard livery, which I remember because I hadn’t seen it before.

A sister of our plane at LHR a few months earlier in August 1985


Unfortunately I don't recall where we sat but here is the seat layout for Pan Am's 747 fleet at that time from the same timetable.

747 and 747SP seat maps from this trip
Image

It had never occurred to think about an aircraft interior before, but the purser and my mum talked about this plane having been refurbished. Bizarrely that led me to remember a lot of detail about it! I remember the seats were covered in a dark blue material, almost purple, with lots of little suns in a lighter blue. The galleys and toilet blocks were covered in a matching dark blue. Some seats had the same pattern, but in a dark orange/red sort of colour. It was all quite smart. Rhetorically, how weird is it that I should remember that?

Pan Am 747 cabin
Image

It's quite strange to imagine how much Business Class has changed, most airlines in 1985 had 8 across seating, Pan Am was rather luxurious at 6 across.

Pan Am Clipper (Business) cabin c.1985
Image

I remember a lot of cabin announcements about the “Worldpass" programme, where you could earn free flights. As my mum had lost her travel privileges I remember trying to convince her to join it! She told me there was no point as Pan Am weren’t going to fly to Australia anymore.

The crew gave me a Pierre Panda kids pack, which I remember had colouring in. I can’t remember anything else about it, but it must have kept me occupied for a little while.

When it came to meal time, the crew didn’t serve us saying to wait. A little while afterwards they came down with linen and plates of food from First Class saying loudly, “we’re so sorry your special meals got lost”. Of course there had never been any special meals, they were just looking after us. I think the meal was Chateaubriand, but might be wrong. However, I can tell you that meat melted in my mouth and I vividly remember it was not like the food I’d had before. It was fancy!

The purser came around during the movie and sat next to my mum for a chat. They talked about the impending Pacific network sale to United. The purser did not really know if she would go to United or stay with Pan Am. I remember the purser saying that, “Pan Am just won’t be Pan Am anymore”. A real sense of sadness hung over their conversation, “can you imagine Mr Trippe selling the Pacific routes? All because of domestic routes". A genuine disapproval hung over the word ‘domestic’ when either of them said it.

I guess it was the end of Pan Am’s global legacy and in 1985 they still flew pretty much everywhere in the free world.

Route map from October 1985
Image

On a side note about airline mergers, when clearing out this year, I found these old “Pan Am goes National” stickers which came from somewhere.

Image

I thought to message my mum and let me quote her reply, “Destroy them. That’s where it all went wrong. Foolish men who borrowed too much money. What for? Domestic routes, silly little domestic routes”. That’s airline mergers for you, 38 years later and they're still bitter……..

Anyway, back to 1985. With all of the blinds down and a grown up movie playing I begun to get restless during their conversation. So the purser took me for a walk around the plane. She showed me the galleys, Clipper Class, First Class and took me up the spiral staircase. One odd detail I remember is that those classes had a different movie playing to economy, not that I can remember what either were.

On the Upper Deck she started asking me questions about what we were going to do in America. I told her go to Disneyland and San Diego Zoo. She then told me that you could have breakfast with Mickey and Mini Mouse plus at San Diego Zoo there were Polar Bears. I remember telling her that there used to be a restaurant in the upper deck! She said there used to be but that because planes were busier now they had to put in seats.

The purser then took me back to my seat and said in a little while she would take me to meet the Captain. Sure enough she did. I don’t think the visit was terribly long, but it was the first time I’d visited a cockpit in flight. I remember the vast array of overhead switches more than anything. The Captain said it was a simple plane to fly and the switches made it look harder than it was. “Flying this thing is no harder than driving a stick”, joked the purser - which I remember the captain got a little defensive about.

Pan Am 747 cockpit


I think afterwards my mum might have slipped me a tablet, but woke me up to point out the Grand Canyon.

Following that my memory goes a little sketchy. I remember pushing a trolley with two huge suit cases and being in a long customs queue where every bag was being checked. I think the customs guy must have felt sorry for my mum as he just waved us on. Somehow I got the trolley through arrivals without killing anyone (I could only just see over the top) and found the pick up for Anaheim.

California 1985

Here are a few pictures from our stop over.

The purser was right, a polar bear at San Diego Zoo
Image

Disney Monorail
Image

Mickey Mouse
Image

Second sector

Flight: Pan Am Clipper 815
Aircraft: 747-SP
From: Los Angeles
To: Sydney
When: October 1985 (I can’t find the exact date)
Class: Cabin Class (Economy)

I remember much less about this flight, because it left at almost 10pm.

Flight 815's listing
Image

When one of my grandparents in the UK had been gravely ill, my mum had returned about every week and often transited through LAX. So a few hellos were had with some of the ground staff, who didn’t realise she had left.

Check in area LAX circa early 1980s
Image

One guy took time to tell me that our flight was on a special plane. It was a newer 747, shorter than a normal one, but that it flew faster than other planes (apart from Concorde) and further too. This was a 747 Special Performance, like a hot rod he said!

A sister ship of our 747-SP at LAX in 1985


On boarding I remember this plane seemed older some how, despite being newer. I guess Pan Am had stopped investing in the 747SP fleet as they were going to United. It seemed like something from the 1970s - which I suppose was literally true! It’s just to a kid in 1985, the 1970s were ancient history - right? :lol:

The seat pattern was identical, but in much brighter ‘flower power’ colours. The seat in front of me was yellow and looked kind of dirty. I didn’t like it..

This picture from the database is of a 747-100, but it’s pretty of similar (you can see the yellow further back).


This is a video link to the same cabin design
https://youtu.be/pkQ2ObJEokQ?t=1057

I’ve got very limited other memories of this flight.

I remember speeding down the runway but I don't recall taking off, because I fell asleep. At some point during the night my mum must have gone for a stretch because a cabin attendant was sat with me. I just woke up, she smiled and I fell asleep again.

The next thing I remember is being woken up by the cabin being sprayed for bugs just before landing. This was standard procedure for Australia at that time.

Considering how unusual a Pan Am 747-SP flight was, it is a real shame that I can’t remember more. Alas I can’t.

Pan Am 747SP landing in Sydney
Image

The verdict:

I guess if anything, looking back, there seemed a camaraderie between Pan Am people. Regardless of whether people on this trip knew us well, in passing, or not at all - they all went out of their way because of a common connection. I can't say if most passengers had the same experience, probably not.

Anyway, being so young at the time I can’t be sure that I’ve remembered things right. I just thought that maybe by sharing this memory of mine, it might help prompt happy memories for others - or at least provide a glimpse into aviation's past.

In case you're wondering, no "Pan Am goes National" stickers were harmed!
 
Ionosphere
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:46 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:04 am

Thank you for the interesting trip report! I often wonder what would have happened if PA and Republic had merged instead. National really did nothing but bring PA down.
 
User avatar
ClassicLover
Posts: 4477
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:24 am

I really enjoyed reading this report, so thanks for sharing.

Those Pan Am / National stickers must be quite rare. Interesting to see the reaction they stirred up as well - though I am not all that surprised. Buying National for too much money really was a bad move for Pan Am.

Excellent that your "special meals were lost" - I'm sure the food you received was really something. Even today, airline staff have ways of treating passengers on board without others obviously knowing what is going on.

You're lucky to have flown with Pan Am - I never had the opportunity. My first flights overseas were in 1991 with United SYD-LAX. In an alternate reality, that would have been Pan Am :)

Excellent selection of pictures too! Nice work!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
RJNUT
Posts: 1644
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 1:58 am

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:07 pm

Nice job! Great memories!

I am curious as to who operated the Madison to Detroit service for connections? Was Republic doing some sort of feed?
 
Bobloblaw
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:15 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:34 am

Very nice TR.
 
stratosphere
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:45 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:22 pm

Thanks for the fond memories. I vividly remember the helicopter service Pan Am had back then too. I really miss the flying from a long gone past somehow I don't find todays flying even remotely enjoyable. I always thought the 747SP was a cool looking airplane too. Had to laugh at the statement the Captain said about flying it is as easy as a stick shift car. My uncle was a former Trans Caribbean pilot who went on to American and retired on the DC-10 my father said he could never drive a stick shift car but was a captain on the DC-10 lol..
 
mchei
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:04 pm

Wow. I grew up in Brazil but am German and my father used to work at an American company back then. We flew Pan Am from Rio to meet my grandparents in Germany, Hamburg to be specific. It was all back in the eighties. I remember the lights of the cinema in the 747. Because we were four and later five, we were always seated in the middle. I remember changing in NYC but getting stuck there. It all changed after Lockerbie and due to some company regulation we flew Lufty afterwards.
I don’t have anything specific in my mind anymore but this made me smile a lot.

Cheers!
 
DC10LAXJFK
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:40 pm

Nice trip report and bringing back fond memories of childhood aviation interest. I enjoyed seeing the Timetable. Haven't seen one in years. LAX was my home base, and back then you could actually go the gates to meet arriving relatives. Everytime visiting I'd always grab the timetable to study it.

I flew Pan Am only once on a 747 and that was an experience. LAX-JFK redeye. A plane full of Russian travelers that didn't understand instructions for remaining seated during takeoff, a bunch of folks got up to check their overhead luggage as plane was ascending. Also, got to love the smoking section. On that plane, the entire economy section was really the smoking section!

(As an aside, JFK was fogged in on that flight, so we ended up in PHL to refuel, but didn't connect to a gate and instead they opened the front doors to get some air for the plane while refueling. The smokers all wanted to light up! Flight attendants had their work stopping that. On takeoff to JFK (a very short flight on a 747), people were still sleeping flat out across multiple center seats. Ah... those were the days.)
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1838
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:46 am

LOL I used to love the timetables. No more. And the IAG book of world timetables. I flew First to Honolulu in 1986 and got the free helicopter from New York and a limo to the heliport! All with air miles. Also flew Business on the SP. However the food on Pan Am in economy was really the worst. You would get Swiss Miss chocolate pudding. LOL. Flew them in 1977 to Hong Kong. Very mediocre in economy.
 
User avatar
FCOTSTW
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:14 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:48 pm

WOW!

Those were the times, when every morning LHR T3 was full of TW and PA flights...

… still, you forgot to mention something essential to those flights... the tubular headset... ;-)
 
csavel
Posts: 1384
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 9:38 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:34 pm

"I think afterwards my mum might have slipped me a tablet" could be the best line from any trip report EVER!!!

Great TR thanks for the enjoyable reading.
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
 
Ryanair01
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:21 pm

csavel wrote:
"I think afterwards my mum might have slipped me a tablet" could be the best line from any trip report EVER!!!

Great TR thanks for the enjoyable reading.


Ha, it was acceptable in the 80s.... :rotfl:

FCOTSTW wrote:
WOW!

Those were the times, when every morning LHR T3 was full of TW and PA flights...

… still, you forgot to mention something essential to those flights... the tubular headset... ;-)


Ah yes, the stethoscope headsets. I had forgotten.

lychemsa wrote:
LOL I used to love the timetables. No more. And the IAG book of world timetables. I flew First to Honolulu in 1986 and got the free helicopter from New York and a limo to the heliport! All with air miles. Also flew Business on the SP. However the food on Pan Am in economy was really the worst. You would get Swiss Miss chocolate pudding. LOL. Flew them in 1977 to Hong Kong. Very mediocre in economy.


I've still got boxes of airline timetables. A helicopter from Manhattan must have been a great start to a Hawaiian trip.

DC10LAXJFK wrote:
Nice trip report and bringing back fond memories of childhood aviation interest. I enjoyed seeing the Timetable. Haven't seen one in years. LAX was my home base, and back then you could actually go the gates to meet arriving relatives. Everytime visiting I'd always grab the timetable to study it.

I flew Pan Am only once on a 747 and that was an experience. LAX-JFK redeye. A plane full of Russian travelers that didn't understand instructions for remaining seated during takeoff, a bunch of folks got up to check their overhead luggage as plane was ascending. Also, got to love the smoking section. On that plane, the entire economy section was really the smoking section!

(As an aside, JFK was fogged in on that flight, so we ended up in PHL to refuel, but didn't connect to a gate and instead they opened the front doors to get some air for the plane while refueling. The smokers all wanted to light up! Flight attendants had their work stopping that. On takeoff to JFK (a very short flight on a 747), people were still sleeping flat out across multiple center seats. Ah... those were the days.)


Thank you. Kind of seems backward that today a LAX-JFK redeye would probably be on a narrowbody.

mchei wrote:
Wow. I grew up in Brazil but am German and my father used to work at an American company back then. We flew Pan Am from Rio to meet my grandparents in Germany, Hamburg to be specific. It was all back in the eighties. I remember the lights of the cinema in the 747. Because we were four and later five, we were always seated in the middle. I remember changing in NYC but getting stuck there. It all changed after Lockerbie and due to some company regulation we flew Lufty afterwards.
I don’t have anything specific in my mind anymore but this made me smile a lot.

Cheers!


I'm really glad that it brought back a few memories for someone else. That was what I hoped for.

stratosphere wrote:
Thanks for the fond memories. I vividly remember the helicopter service Pan Am had back then too. I really miss the flying from a long gone past somehow I don't find todays flying even remotely enjoyable. I always thought the 747SP was a cool looking airplane too. Had to laugh at the statement the Captain said about flying it is as easy as a stick shift car. My uncle was a former Trans Caribbean pilot who went on to American and retired on the DC-10 my father said he could never drive a stick shift car but was a captain on the DC-10 lol..


A pleasure. Certainly flying back then had a very different feel about it.

Bobloblaw wrote:
Very nice TR.


Thank you

RJNUT wrote:
Nice job! Great memories!

I am curious as to who operated the Madison to Detroit service for connections? Was Republic doing some sort of feed?


Thank you. I'm not sure about Republic.

ClassicLover wrote:
I really enjoyed reading this report, so thanks for sharing.

Those Pan Am / National stickers must be quite rare. Interesting to see the reaction they stirred up as well - though I am not all that surprised. Buying National for too much money really was a bad move for Pan Am.

Excellent that your "special meals were lost" - I'm sure the food you received was really something. Even today, airline staff have ways of treating passengers on board without others obviously knowing what is going on.

You're lucky to have flown with Pan Am - I never had the opportunity. My first flights overseas were in 1991 with United SYD-LAX. In an alternate reality, that would have been Pan Am :)

Excellent selection of pictures too! Nice work!


Thank you, much appreciated.

Ionosphere wrote:
Thank you for the interesting trip report! I often wonder what would have happened if PA and Republic had merged instead. National really did nothing but bring PA down.


Thank you. The National deal didn't really work for anyone in the end, Republic would certainly have added a lot stronger presence in the interior.
 
flyforever
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:36 am

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:14 pm

Wow, amazing. I was born on October 15, 1985.
 
TN486
Posts: 544
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:08 am

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:45 am

PAA did the Forces Charter Rest & Recuperation (R&R) flights from Saigon to Sydney return during the Vietnam War on 707's. I was on one such flight just after the TET offensive in Feb 68 returning to Saigon, left around 9am and I still remember the lunch that was served on board. Steak and veges. The steak was the best I have ever had, just melted in the mouth. Pure yummy.
remember the t shirt "I own an airline"on the front - "qantas" on the back
 
User avatar
Domthepax
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:31 am

Re: 1985 Pan Am LHR-LAX-SYD 747 & 747SP - a (former) kid's memories

Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:10 pm

Nice to read a different kind of TR. I also have boxes of aviation magazines, postcards, pictures and timetables from the early 2000s when I was a kid. I used to love reading and examining those timetables.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 33 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos