America's Airline to the World

Ad circa 1940:  "Flying Clipper Cruises -- AROUND SOUTH AMERICA." Don Thomas Collection.



A Selection from Pan Am's "America's Airline to the World"

For years, Pan American Airwaysever expanding and improving was synonymous with the best of world travel.

"BRAZIL !" is a 1980's TV spot produced by the Carl Ally Agency for Pan Am's "America's Airline to the World" advertising campaign. With the feel of a micro travelog, some well-known Brazilian attractions are presented in a quick panoply of shots that inspire an active vacation experience, along with the reminder of Pan Am's frequent service to Brazil.

Pan Am Historical Foundation Film Archive, "America's Airline to the World," Brazil (PAHF/Eric Sorensen Collection).


A Sampling of Pan Am Promotions to Latin America

This trove of Pan Am's South American ads creates a rough outline of the history of the airline, from the early years when Pan Am first reached the southern hemisphere, to its development of routes on the west coast and east coasts.

It shows ads during World War Two and after, in the post war Golden Age of travel, through to the Jet Age and beyond.

Pan Am's earliest route development was in the Americas, providing not just typical airline transport, but expanding and marketing services besides air mail and air freight. Early descriptive Pan Am ads promoted "cruises" that enticed travelers to take small land planes, and later on, flying boats to visit exotic locales. Adventurous travelers like Clara Adams, who often traveled on Pan Am, popularized stories of their journeys and encouraged others to follow suit. By keeping in the public eye with news stories and speaking engagements, they became the "influencers" of their day.

First Air Cruise in America, circa 1929, shows a Fokker 10 over Havana. The cruise included rail and steamship, with flights from Miami to Puerto Rico (PAHF/Don Thomas Collection).

First Air Cruise in America, circa 1929, shows a Fokker 10 over Havana. The cruise included rail and steamship, with flights from Miami to Puerto Rico (PAHF/Don Thomas Collection).

First Air Cruise in America, circa 1929, shows a Fokker 10 over Havana. The cruise included rail and steamship, with flights from Miami to Puerto Rico (PAHF/Don Thomas Collection).

Pan Am's very first routes were built around the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

A circa 1929 Pan Am brochure entitled "First Air Cruise in America," promoted an early tour for passengers to arrive in Miami by train on the "Atlantic Coast Line" from New York, fly by Fokker via "Pan-American Airways" to San Juan, enjoy the Coamo Hot Springs, and return to New York on the SS Coamo of the "Porto Rico Line."

Also that year, Pan Am joined with W.R. Grace Shipping to create Panagra (Pan American-Grace Airways) that extended from the Panama Canal Zone down through Central America, flying small planes like their Ford Tri-motors along the west coast of South America.

January 1, 1941: Panair do Brasil, S.A., Pan American Airways System timetable (Courtesy of Bjorn Larsson, "Airline Timetable Images") at Timetable

In September 1930, Pan Am purchased New York, Rio, and Buenos Aires Line (NYRBA).

This added the east coast of South America to their routes, and in the process, acquiring a sizeable fleet of Consolidated Commodore flying boats capable of making the long 600-mile flight between Kingston, Jamaica and Barranquilla, Colombia. The affiliate was named Panair do Brasil.

Ford Tri-motor landing on the West Coast of South America, c. 1930 (Pan Am Historical Foundation Film collection).


Pan Am Map: By late 1930 Pan Am routes extended around South America. The map shows "PlaneTrain" domestic US airmail lines and railroads that would carry passengers to Miami and Brownsville to begin their adventures flying on Pan Am..

"The World's Greatest Air Transportation System"

This late 1930 Pan Am route map illustrates the company's "PlaneTrain" promotion, that took passengers on US airmail lines and railroads to Pan Am's Miami and Brownsville bases to begin their adventures on Pan Am flights.

Along with its affiliates Pan Air do Brasil on the east coast & Panagra on the west coast, Pan Am could now transport passengers nearly all the way around the continent of South America using planes like Fords and Commodores as shown in the map.

"Discover a New World"

1934: "FROM FALL TO SPRING AND BACK AGAIN." This Pan Am ad offered fall-season travelers a tour with flights to Rio on Pan Am's very first Sikorsky S-42. The 17,000 mile round trip journey took 6-1/2 weeks by air and steamship, just half the time of cruises by steamship alone. Departing Havana, travelers could visit 21 countries and islands in Latin America aboard the "Brazilian Clipper" America's largest and most luxurious airliner," for $1200. Once in Rio, travelers had options to reach Buenos Aires by steamer, or extend their journey up the west coast of South America by plane and rail.

See South America by Air, early 1940s Pan Am Ad

"See America by Air!"

1940s: "...skirt the Andes, leap the Equator in the wink of an eye — cradled in great American planes, operating on fast and frequent schedules." This ad shows Pan Am's land routes in red on the west coast of South America accessible by propliners such as Douglas DC-3s and Boeing 307 Stratoliners. East coast routes are shown in black: For many years S-42s and Commodores flew Pan Am's former NYRBA routes via Pan Air do Brasil. From the east coast, adventurous explorers could take Sikorsky S-43 "Baby Clippers" and Fairchild F-91 "Jungle Clippers" to reach remote places on the Amazon River.

February 1940, "Flying Clipper Cruises around South America" featured a Pan AmBoeing 314 which never made scheduled passenger flights around the continent due to interruptions of World War Two.

Flying Clipper Cruises Around South America

This Pan Am poster from February 1940 featured the recently introduced, powerful Boeing 314 flying boat. But as US involvement in World War Two intervened, the plane never saw scheduled flights around the South American continent. The B-314 had flown its first passengers across the Pacific and the Atlantic in 1939, and during the war, the planes were bought by the US government and flown by Pan Am for safe, reliable travel across the oceans to Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as for war-related diplomatic trips, cargo deliveries, and special missions (Photo: PAHF/Don Thomas Collection).

1940 Pan Am ad: To Rio or New Zealand now...just a hop and a skip by Clipper Ship

To Rio or New Zealand now...just a hop and a skip by Clipper Ship

1940: Just before World War Two, this Pan Am ad promoted "Variety Down Under" and "Romance in Rio," emphasizing the rapid transit by air at 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 days compared to travel time by steamship, 12-17 full days. It depicts travel to South America by Pan Am's new pressurized B-307 Stratoliners, and transpacific service to New Zealand aboard the new Boeing 314 flying boats. From continental Rio to "off-the-beaten-track spectacular New Zealand," the two new planes were emblematic of Pan Am's advancing technologies and global reach. "America's Merchant Marine of the Air" introduces the route map inset.

Pan Am Ad, 1944:"Can I Fly to South America Now?

Can I fly to South America now?

An inset in this ad shows Pan Am routes in Asia and Africa on war duty. But South America was still considered a relatively safe destination for civilians, and by 1944 Pan Am stated, " Ever since Pearl Harbor, Pan American has placed its war duties ahead of everything else. But, thanks to the magnificent job now being done by the Army Air Transport Command and Navy Air Transport Service, and also to increased Pan American schedules, more commercial space is gradually being available aboard the Clippers of our Latin-American division."

1945 ...hundreds see Buenos Aires by television"  1945 - "Tomorrow thousands will GO to Buenos Aires by CLIPPER.

"...hundreds see Buenos Aires by television"

1945: "Tomorrow thousands will GO to Buenos Aires by CLIPPER." One of a series of destinations popularized by Pan Am TV broadcasts, this ad encouraged post-war travelers to visit in person. Pan Am's New York-Buenos Aires flight in 21 hours was fast enough to plan a trip with just two weeks vacation time. An interesting "aviation first" appears in a small insert about Pan Am's meal service history, 1929.

1951 Pan American-Grace Airways El Interamericano Ad: Go Now! to South America

Go Now! to South America

1951: Pan Am affiliate, Panagra, offered "El InterAmericano" flights with the only daily Douglas DC-6 service from Miami to Panama (4-1/2 hrs); Ecuador (8-1/2 hrs); Peru (11 hrs); Chile (17 hrs), Argentina (18-1/2 hrs). "Did you know the shortest way to Buenos Aires is to fly straight down South America's West Coast?... Moreover, you travel in the highest style. Panagra's Red Carpet service includes Gourmet Galley meals with cocktails and wines; the exclusive Fiesta Lounge; bed-sized berths..." ""

1961 "Now Pan Am Cuts Jet Fares to South America."

Now Pan Am Cuts Airfares to South America

The age of jet travel enabled direct flights, and by 1961 South America seemed even closer to the US. Highlighting lower fares to get more people there, a colorful Pan Am magazine ad illustrates a romantic couple in modern Rio de Janeiro. Pan Am invited travelers to fly there or to Buenos Aires — "New all-year Jet Economy Rainbow fares are as much as 30% lower than former tourist fares" at $330 New York-RIO and $340 New York-Buenos Aires. "Choose Pan Am for the assurance of flying with the World's Most Experienced Airline."

Pa Am Ad circa 1963. "You Haven't Seen Anything Till You've Seen South America."

You haven't seen anything till you've seen South America!

By 1963 Pan Am & Panagra were showing an impressive photo array of Jet Age vacation possibilities throughout South America — from beaches in Chili to cities, both modern and ancient, and even "romantic ranches."

"See both coasts for the price of one. Enjoy the old Spanish charm of Caracas. Or visit modern Brasilia. Night Life in Rio. Steaks in Sao Paulo... Skiing near Santiago, Chile. Magnificent Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu. Silver shopping in leisurely Lima."

Panagra  Pan Am Ad: circa 1966: "Tamed (Argentine-Chilean lake region...) Untamed (It could e carnival in Rio. Or fiesta in Quito, Of any Saturday night in Buenos Aires...)"

Tamed... Untamed...

This Panagra • Pan Am ad, circa 1966 shows the range of opportunities for visitors to explore South America.

From "Tamed" -- "This is the Argentine-Chilean lake region...where your problems are thousands of miles away" — to "Untamed" — "The Latin spirit still lives unfettered," these two colorful photos focused on the allure of visiting South America where travelers could experience the beauty and culture of an entire continent.

1980s Pan Am Argentina

"Pan Am's Argentina"

"Pan Am's Argentina" displays a beautifully photographed locale with an understated Pan Am logo. Unlike many previous Pan Am ads, the lack of informative text allows the magnificent photo to relay a compelling message to travelers about the experience of seeing the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires at dusk.

This 1980's poster was one of a series of modern, streamlined Pan Am promotions that represented the different "worlds" that could be reached on the company's Boeing 747s.



This newly digitized film, "Pan Am Holidays," was used for presentations to prospective travel professionals promoting Pan Am's tours. It was shot in the stylish Pan Am Building ticket office and produced by Pan American World Airways in 1984.

"Pan Am Holidays," Clip from a marketing presentation filmed at the Pan Am Building Ticket Office, Midtown Manhattan (Pan Am Historical Foundation Film Collection, Courtesy of National Air & Space Museum).

Pan Am Museum Podcast by Tom Betti

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