Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records

Description of the Papers

The records of Pan American World Airways, Inc., begin with the company's founding in 1927, and provide a fascinating perspective on the growth and development of a modern aviation corporation. Examples of early records include a volume entitled "Passenger Traffic Statistics, From December 18th, 1929 To December 5th, 1934." The handwritten entries in this logbook record the names, destinations, fares, flight numbers, and nationalities of passengers. Individual remarks for passengers include annotations such as "First woman passenger," First Miami Passenger" and "Passenger's Weight 242 lbs."

A. Charles A. Lindbergh Letters

Among the most important historical documents in the records are letters from Charles A. Lindbergh to Juan Trippe. Lindbergh mailed Trippe a 12-page handwritten report on September 15, 1933.

"In establishing a transatlantic air route it is fully as important to decide which route will be most advantageous in the future as it is to decide which is the best to operate over today... It has always been my belief that with every advance in aviation the air route will tend to follow more closely the great circle course between the localities they serve. I believe that in the future aircraft will detour bad weather areas by flying above them rather than around them."

Lindbergh elaborates further on potential air routes and also reports on airplane and communication equipment needs.

"Planes used on a northern transatlantic route must have reliability plenty of range and high speed. It is essential to eliminate the possibility of forced landings due to engine failure. A great deal of flying would have to be done over low fog covering rough ice and probably over storm areas... I believe that a northern transatlantic regular service should not be contemplated with planes which are not capable of flying nonstop from the western side of the Greenland ice cap to Iceland if necessary... It is not possible for me to overemphasize the necessity of a sufficient number of radio stations on a northern route to give reliable weather information and to give bearings.

B. Logbooks, Manuals and Technical Reports

The records also include extensive quantities of logbooks for important flights, including those of the "American Clipper," the "China Clipper" and the "Hawaiian Clipper." Logbooks typically list technical flight information, performance measures for the aircraft, passenger and crew data, and personal comments of the pilot and staff. Manuals and technical for the maintenance and care of aircraft, hangers, equipment and terminals provide a detailed record of internal policies and procedures. Additional technical reports document a wide range of topics, including test results on engines and aircraft, in addition to examination for employees.

C. Speech Files

The records contain files of speeches by leading corporate figures including presidents, chairmen and chief executive officers Juan Trippe, Harold Gray, Najeeb Halaby, and William Seawell.

D. Topical Files

The records contain voluminous files on administrative and operations activities. These files range from information relating to "Babies born on aircraft" to labor negotiations.

E. Historical Files

These files include drafts of corporate histories and articles on notable accomplishments; selected clippings and data on flight and passenger statistics; and photographs.

F. Public Relations

Files from the Public Relations office include extensive photograph files on airplanes, individuals, equipment, buildings, ceremonies, and other topics. Photograph albums often provide a historical perspective on subjects. A wide range of press releases, press kits, statements, brochures, posters, exhibition materials and ephemera also support public service activities.

G. Scrapbooks, Prints and Ephemera

Numerous scrapbooks of newspaper clippings are also available. Selected scrapbooks were compiled by staff members while others are the product of pilots, staff and other employees.

H. Publications

The company produced numerous internal and external publications. Internal publications include a wide range of newsletters, reports and magazines including Pan American Airways, New Horizons, Clipper News, and the Sales Clipper. Publications served specific areas within the airlines, and befitting the company's international status, many titles appeared in multiple languages. Other publications include compilations of testimony and documents submitted to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the U.S. Courts on such matters as acquisition and merger with National Airlines and the determination of awards for various air routes.