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Touring a Pan American Airways Flying Clipper

27 June 2010

Touring a Pan Am Clipper

Not a single clipper from the 1930s and 1940s has found a way to a museum or collection. Considering their impact in the history of air travel alone this fact is tragic. But museums have filled in this gap with models and several excellent books are in print for us to view.

A quick look in will give these titles:

  • Pan American Clippers: the Golden Age of Flying Boats — by James Trautman
  • The Pan Am Clipper: the History of Pan American’s Flying-Boats 1931 to 1946 — by Roy Allen
  • The Pan Am Clipper — by Roy Allen
  • Pan American’s Pacific Pioneers: the Rest of the Story : A Pictorial History of Pan Am’s Pacific First Flights 1935-1946 (v. 2) — by Jon E. Krupnick (Hardcover – Oct. 2000)
  • Pan Am — by Lynn Homan and Thomas Reilly
  • Pan Am Pioneer: a Manager’s Memoir from Seaplane Clippers to Jumbo Jets — by S. B. Kauffman and George E. Hopkins
  • Escape of the Pacific Clipper — by George L. Flynn and Adolph Cas
  • Night Over Water — by Ken Follett (a novel with good descriptions of the Boaing 314 and life aboard during a flight).

Although we cannot take a flight on a clipper, or see one for ourselves, we do have a few options. There are a few models of clippers with clear panels for viewing and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum has a full-scale replica of the Boeing 314 Yankee Clipper. This is a museum to see, walking into a life-sized replica fuselage of a Boeing 314 must be experienced to be believed. Communicating with David Brown, a director at the museum, indicates that all compartments are there to be walked through and viewed with the exception of the rearmost — the Suite de Luxe, also know as the “Honeymoon Suite” — though it can be easily viewed, just not entered.  Today’s air travel is affordable and fairly comfortable. One can do a bit of a walk when on a wide body airliner, the food is good and the travel is quicker — often faster than the wait times in the departing airport it seems to me. But what would it be like to walk to different compartments during a flight? One for having drinks and socializing but then another for dining? Wouldn’t that be nice! What would that feel like? One can experience a bit of it at Foynes’s Flying Boat Museum … a rare and wonderful experience.

Several models exist and some of them are located in (hint: cut-and-paste the museum names into the search box to see the posts and the photos):

We can also take a tour the old-fashioned way … not in a virtual reality but with a large-scale model which is in the National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall:

Boeing 314 cutaway model — photo by Joe May

Forward compartments of the Boeing 314 (Note the small galley that could serve 20 persons at a sitting!) — photo by Joe May

Flight deck of the Boeing 314 (there is a desk for the captain and navigator to work or have a meeting) — photo by Joe May

Center section compartments of the Boeing 314 (the blister above the wing is for the navigator to shoot the stars with a sextant) — photo by Joe May

Aft compartments of the Boeing 314 — photo by Joe May

Today, what could be better than walking through the life-sized replica and other exhibits in the Foynes Flying Boat Museum? The museum is located in a town where the Yankee Clipper would stop and passengers could warn themselves with Irish Coffee — today one can visit this world-class museum, tour a flying clipper, sit in a cockpit as well as passenger areas … and enjoy an Irish Coffee in a beautriful café 😉

Other places regarding aviation history in, or near, Ireland are:

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Marty Davis permalink
    28 June 2010 14:00

    It’s hard to believe that not a single clipper was preserved. That seems like an enormous oversight. Every aircraft has its own “fan” club and the clipper should have had a fairly large one.

    And it would be interesting experience to sit in seats facing to the rear, particularly in today’s modern jets. When flight attendants use rear-facing jump seats they use dual shoulder straps. All other regular seating simply provides lap belts which would prove inadequate for g-forces operating in the opposite direction.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      28 June 2010 15:06


      Several excellent points. I suppose jump seats are located where there is available space but I agree with you in that they usually face to the rear … better for sudden decelerations as the seat absorbs load instead of the body. I hadn’t thought much about the shoulder belts but you are right again … better than the passengers. Do you suppose it’s an FAA requirement of some sort?

      As far as none of the flying clippers being preserved … it is a shame. My impressionion is that folks were less likely to preserve aircraft until only recently. I don’t have numbers for it but it’s an impression. All the more remarkable that Foynes built a full scale fuselage replica of the Yankee Clipper 😉

  2. 8 October 2013 03:34

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    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on
    everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid
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  3. Alan permalink
    1 June 2014 13:07

    Nice picteres

  4. 7 September 2014 21:27

    Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.

    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

    • Walter L. Biscoe, Jr. permalink
      16 April 2015 11:59

      As a young sailor during WWII, I helped service the clipper at Port Loyettey, French Morrocco for a period of almost two years. The stop was around 2 AM, but we all stayed awake to see the pretty stewardes. The passengers went to a delicious dinner located in a Quonset hut there on base. One night the flight did not show and we some dozen sailors were invited ashore for a super nice duck dinner.

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        4 May 2015 17:57

        Thanks for the day-in-the-life perspective 🙂

      • Pan Am Dian permalink
        7 June 2015 16:01

        Walter l. Briscoe, Jr.
        As a writer and former PAN AM employee, I’d be interested in interviewing you about your two years servicing the Clippers.

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        10 June 2015 07:21

        I’ll see if I can help you both get in touch.

  5. aryanknight permalink
    29 December 2018 15:53

    Let me see if this Forum enables my posting a photo circa-1950 showing one (-of four to six i saw there as a lad) Boeing 314’s unceremoniously ‘beached’ along SanDiego Harbor-drive; –later all the majestic-airships were ordered scraped by ‘dumb-democrat’ City-mayor.. “because he was tired seeing them abandoned there”!
    (hummmm, -i’m not seeing any photo-upload enabler; -but my e-mail is… [ ], -will convey photo to anyone for posting here somehow!


  1. Airplane that passengers can sleep in -- know of any? - Page 8

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