Air Travel


boeing                                                             314 clipper                                                             dining room

Clipper passengers took their meals at real tables, not their seats. For most travelers in the 21st century, flying is a dreary experience, full of inconvenience, indignity, and discomfort.

That wasn't the case in the late 1930s, when those with the money to afford trans-oceanic flight got to take the Boeing Model 314, better known as the Clipper. Even Franklin Roosevelt used the plane, celebrating his 61st birthday on board.

Between 1938 and 1941, Boeing built 12 of the jumbo planes for Pan American World Airways.
The 314 offered a range of 3,500 miles — enough to cross either the Atlantic or Pacific —and room for 74 passengers onboard.
Of course, modern aviation offers an amazing first class experience (and it's a whole lot safer), but nothing in the air today matches the romanticism of crossing the ocean in the famed Clipper.
Thanks to the Pan Am Historical Foundation for sharing its photos. The foundation is currently working on a documentary about Pan American World Airways and the adventure of the flying boat age. Find out more here.

The Model 314's nickname Clipper came from an especially fast type of sailing ship, used in the 19th century.

The ship analogy was appropriate, as the Clipper landed on the water, not runways.

The ship                                                             analogy was                                                             appropriate,                                                             as the Clipper                                                             landed on the                                                             water, not                                                             runways.
The Boeing Company

Here's a diagram of the different areas of the plane.

Here's a                                                             diagram of the                                                             different                                                             areas of the                                                             plane.
The Boeing Company
[Source: Boeing]

On Pan Am flights, passengers had access to dressing rooms and a dining salon that could be converted into a lounge or bridal suite.

On Pan Am                                                             flights,                                                             passengers had                                                             access to                                                             dressing rooms                                                             and a dining                                                             salon that                                                             could be                                                             converted into                                                             a lounge or                                                             bridal suite.
The Boeing Company

The galley served up meals catered from four-star hotels.

The                                                             galley served                                                             up meals                                                             catered from                                                             four-star                                                             hotels.
The Boeing Company

If you want to sit at a table to eat with other people these days, you have to fly in a private jet.

If you                                                             want to sit at                                                             a table to eat                                                             with other                                                             people these                                                             days, you have                                                             to fly in a                                                             private jet.
The Boeing Company

There was room for a crew of 10 to serve as many as 74 passengers.

There was                                                             room for a                                                             crew of 10 to                                                             serve as many                                                             as 74                                                             passengers.
The Boeing Company

On overnight flights, the 74 seats could be turned into 40 bunks for comfortable sleeping.

On                                                             overnight                                                             flights, the                                                             74 seats could                                                             be turned into                                                             40 bunks for                                                             comfortable                                                             sleeping.
The Boeing Company

The bunk beds came with curtains for privacy.

On the 24-hour flights across the Atlantic, crew members could conk out on these less luxurious cots.

Unlike some modern jets that come with joysticks, the Clipper had controls that resembled car steering wheels.

Navigating across the ocean used to require more manpower in the air.

The lavatory wasn't too fancy, but it did have a urinal — something you never see in today's commercial jets, where space is at a premium.

The ladies lounge had stools where female passengers could sit and do their makeup.

The Clipper made its maiden trans-Atlantic voyage on June 28, 1939.

The                                                             Clipper made                                                             its maiden                                                             trans-Atlantic                                                             voyage on June                                                             28, 1939.
The Boeing Company

But once the US entered World War II, the Clipper was pressed into service to transport materials and personnel.

In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt celebrated his 61st birthday on board.

But once                                                             the US entered                                                             World War II,                                                             the Clipper                                                             was pressed                                                             into service                                                             to transport                                                             materials and                                                             personnel. In                                                             1943,                                                             President                                                             Franklin                                                               Roosevelt                                                             celebrated his                                                             61st birthday                                                             on board.