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The Nation's Airline
Pan Am launched in the 1920s as the US’s quasi-official airline, at least in part to block expanding German airlines from serving Latin American routes. After World War II, the company invested heavily in new jet technology, and forged a reputation as the gold standard of glamorous flight.
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Flying High
Pan Am’s de facto monopoly on international flights out of the US made their planes a symbol of the high life—and a crossroads of celebrity. Here, Portland’s Betty Lou Ruble Snyder chats with Humphrey Bogart.
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The Hat
In the Jet Age, Pan Am flight attendants’ tailored blue uniforms (not to mention snazzy bowler hats) made them icons of cosmopolitanism and adventure. Cinda Colton Belozer worked the airline’s second flight into China in 1981.
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Going Global
At its peak, Pan Am served over 150 destinations, landing on every continent, in places both famed and obscure. Portland’s Gayle Larson poses outside the terminal in Paramaribo, Suriname in 1965.
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Ground Engagements
Pan Am flight crews waged a number of battles for better wages and working conditions. Barbara Wall Geiger picketed at San Francisco International during a 1954 strike.
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Airborne Cosmopolis
The airline prided itself on its multilingual flight crews. Irene Fujimura Nishimoto, hired in Seattle in 1960, got her job in part because of her language skills (she was technically too short) and became the company’s first Japanese-American purser.
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Women on the Rise
Pan Am invested in rigorous (and sometimes glamorous) training for its crews. Jan Miller Guerci’s time at the “academy” ended with a helicopter ride to the Pan Am Building in New York and a champagne toast from the company’s chairman.
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Meet Interesting People
An atmosphere of international intrigue sometimes hung over Pan Am’s operations. Lynn Fuller and Susan Greb meet some Latin American dignitaries.
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