Pan Am memories

So there’s a new show, set in the early 60′s, called “Pan Am”, which for the younger of you really was an airline!

Going against the show is it’s basically a show about four pretty stewardesses getting into madcap adventures.  Going for it is that Tommy Shlamme (West Wing) is the director/executive producer, unbelievable production values (the recreation of the JFK terminal is all CGI, and best I can tell is perfect), and it’s Pan Am, with all the memories that brings.  Pan Am was THE international airline for the United States.  They had a waiting list for flights to the moon (I’m on it).  They’re the airline which flies to the space station in 2001.

That being said, my final memory of flying on Pan Am is less than stellar.  I was on my way from Houston to Moscow by way of JFK.  I was meeting my tour group at JFK.  They had my visas for what was then still the Soviet Union.  The aircraft from Houston broke down, and I couldn’t get the airline to rebook me.  By the time I got to JFK the flight to Moscow had left and they rebooked me on a connecting flight through Frankfurt.  However they booked my luggage on a connecting flight through Heathrow, and told the people who were supposed to meet me in Moscow to look for me on the British Air flight.  I ended up stranded in Moscow on a Saturday night (the rest of the group had flown on to the Baikanor cosmodrome) speaking almost no Russian.  That was, in part, why Pan Am went away.  They forgot about serving their passengers.  But the TV show is set before then.

For a foreign service officer, there’s also the fun of seeing different places around the world as they existed in the 1960′s.  It looks like they’re mostly using back lot and green screen, but there’s already been an embassy scene. One of the stewardess characters is French and they break out the language from time to time, which is practice for me.

For airplane pilots, lots of shots of the classic Boeing 707, the plane which taught the world how to fly jets.

40 years from now, I just don’t see a series about Southwest.

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3 Comments

Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

3 responses to “Pan Am memories

  1. Anonymous

    “40 years from now, I just don’t see a series about Southwest.”

    Or about any airline currently flying, even legacy lines like Delta and United. There’s no longer any romance or glamour to air travel–imagine if every scene of the terminal in “Pan Am” included long lines of people taking off their shoes to walk through body scanners! Back in the ’60s, air travel was still something that the middle class might do only once or twice in their lifetimes–a trip to Disneyland or Europe, say, just once. Even salesmen were taking cars and trains back then for cross-country trips. Only top execs were “business fliers” in that era.

  2. rkolker

    So I’m watching this week’s episode and there’s a character on it named “Professor Kolker.” I assume it’s a coincidence.

  3. John Bartholomew

    I look at the image of the orbital Pan Am spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and feel absolutely ripped off. We should have HAD that stuff by now, and I fully expected as a kid watching the movie that we WOULD.

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