Tag Archives: Clipper America

3 January 1981

One of the first Boeing 707 airliners delivered to Pan American World Airways, Clipper Maria, N707PA. (Pan Am)
One of the first Boeing 707 airliners delivered to Pan American World Airways, N707PA. (Pan Am)

3 January 1981: Pan American World Airways retired its last Boeing 707 airliner. Pan Am had been the launch customer for the 707. On 20 October 1955 the airline ordered twenty 707s, and later ordered 130 more. The first one, Clipper America, a 707-121, N707PA, was delivered 15 August 1958. On 26 October 1958, N711PA, also named Clipper America,¹ made the first regularly scheduled transatlantic flight by a jet airliner.

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 707-121, N711PA, Clipper America, arriving at Aéroport de Paris–Le Bourget, Paris, France, 27 October 1958. (Photograph © Jon Proctor, used with permission)

The Boeing Model 707-121 was a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings were swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer.

The 707-121 was 145 feet, 1 inch (44.221 meters) long with a wing span of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters). The top of the vertical fin stood 41 feet, 8 inches (12.700 meters) high. The 707 pre-dated the ”wide-body” airliners, having a maximum fuselage width of 12 feet, 4.0 inches (3.759 meters). The airliner’s typical operating empty weight is 122,500 pounds (55,565 kilograms). Maximum take off weight is 257,340 pounds (116,727 kilograms).

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 707-121 Clipper Constitution, N708PA. This was the very first production 707. (Pentakrom)

The first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3C-6 turbojet engines, producing 11,200 pounds of thrust (49,820 kilonewtons), and 13,500 pounds (60.051 kilonewtons) with water injection. This engine was a civil variant of the military J57 series. It was a two-spool axial-flow turbojet engine with a 16-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. The JT3C-6 was 11 feet, 6.6 inches (3.520 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.9 inches (0.988 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,235 pounds (1,921 kilograms).

At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) of runway to take off.

The 707-121 had an economical cruise speed of 550 miles per hour (885 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters), and a maximum cruise speed of 593 miles per hour (954 kilometers per hour) at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters)—0.87 Mach. It’s range was 2,800 nautical miles (5,186 kilometers).

The Boeing 707 was in production from 1958 to 1979. 1,010 were built. Production of 707 airframes continued at Renton until the final one was completed in April 1991. As of 2011, 43 707s were still in service.

Pan American World Airway's Boeing 707-139B, N778PA, Clipper Skylark, along with many of her sisterships, in storage at Marana Air Park, Arizona.
Pan American World Airway’s Boeing 707-139B, N778PA, Clipper Skylark, along with many of her sister ships, in storage at Marana Air Park, Arizona. (Goleta Air & Space Museum)

¹ At least three Pan Am 707s carried the name Clipper America. N709PA was renamed Clipper Tradewind. N710PA, was renamed Clipper Caroline. N711PA was renamed Clipper Mayflower.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 December 1958

One of the first Boeing 707 airliners delivered to Pan American World Airways, Clipper Maria, N707PA. (Pan Am)
One of the first Boeing 707 airliners delivered to Pan American World Airways, Clipper Maria, N707PA. (Pan Am)

10 December 1958: Using a Boeing 707 leased from Pan American World Airways, National Airlines became the first U.S. airline to operate jet airliners within the United States.

Pan American’s Clipper America, N710PA, a Boeing 707-121, departed Idlewild Airport (IDL), New York City, New York, at 9:54 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, bound for Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida, 949 nautical miles (1,092 statute miles/1,756 kilometers) to the south-southwest. The National Airlines pilots were Captain Roger Whittacker and Captain David B. Gannon. The airliner carried 102 passengers.

N710PA arrived at Miami at 12:39 p.m. Departing Miami at 2:13 p.m., returned to New York and touched down at Idlewild at 4:52 p.m. The 707 was flown on a scheduled Pan Am flight that night.

A contemporary news magazine article discussed the lease arrangement:

National Airlines timetable, 26 October 1958. (Don Henchel Collection via Airline Timetable Images)
National Airlines timetable, 26 October 1958. (Don Henchel Collection via Airline Timetable Images)

“Monday, Dec. 08, 1958: One of the few U.S. airlines climbing out of the labor fog last week was National Airlines, whose routes stretch along the Atlantic Coast to Florida. On Dec. 10 National will inaugurate the first domestic jet airliner service with daily flights on the rich New York-Miami run. Using 600-m.p.h. Boeing 707s under a complicated lease-stock deal with Pan American, which already flies jets across the Atlantic, National will make the 1,100-mile run in 2 hr. 15 min. To make sure that it can fly jets, National signed contracts with its pilots, flight engineers and mechanics running into 1960. National is paying well to be the first domestic jet operator. Plans call for three 707s under lease around the first of the year, each one costing an estimated $216,000 per month to operate and maintain. To sweeten the kitty. National has also agreed to a stock exchange that, if CAB approves, will eventually give Pan Am a big voice in its affairs. In a $16 million swap, the two lines will exchange 400,000 shares of stock, and Pan Am will get a two-year option to buy another 250,000 shares of National stock at $22.50 per share. The effect would be to give National a minor (6%) interest in Pan American, while Pan Am could gain 36% of National if it exercises its option. . . .”

TIME Magazine, 8 December, 1958

American Airlines was the first domestic carrier to fly its own Boeing 707s, with the first flight from Los Angeles to new York, 25 January 1959.

National Airlines was a domestic carrier, founded in 1930. Pan Am acquired the airline 7 January 1980.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 17.26.30
National Airlines advertisement, Fall 1958. (Don Henchel Collection via Airline Timetable Images)

The Boeing 707 was developed from the earlier Model 367–80, the “Dash Eighty.”

The Boeing Model 707-121 was a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings were swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer.

The 707-121 was 145 feet, 1 inch (44.221 meters) long with a wing span of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters). The top of the vertical fin stood 42 feet, 5 inches (12.929 meters) high. The 707 pre-dated the ”wide-body” airliners, having a fuselage width of 12 feet, 4 inches (3.759 meters). The airliner’s empty weight is 122,533 pounds (55,580 kilograms). Maximum take off weight is 257,000 pounds (116,573 kilograms).

The first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3C-6 turbojet engines, producing 11,200 pounds of thrust (49.82 kilonewtons), and 13,500 pounds (60.051 kilonewtons) with water injection. This engine was a civil variant of the military J57 series. It was a two-spool axial-flow turbojet engine with a 16-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. The JT3C-6 was 11 feet, 6.6 inches (3.520 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.9 inches (0.988 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,235 pounds (1,921 kilograms).

At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,352.8 meters) of runway to take off.

The 707-121 had a maximum speed of 540 knots (1,000 kilometers per hour). It’s range was 2,800 nautical miles (5,185.6 kilometers).

N710PA, c/n 17589, was delivered to Pan American 29 September 1958. It was later renamed Clipper Caroline. In 1965, the airliner was upgraded to the 701-121B configuration. After being sold by Pan Am, it served with a number of different companies. It was scrapped in 1984.

Note: Thanks to regular TDiA reader Tom Facer for suggesting this post.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 October 1958

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 707-121, N711PA, Clipper America, at Idlewild Airport, New York, 26 October 1958. (Pan American World Airways)

26 October 1958: Pan American World Airways opened the “Jet Age” with the first commercial flight of an American jet airliner. Pan Am’s Boeing 707-121 Clipper America, N711PA, departed New York Idlewild (IDL) on an 8 hour, 41 minute flight to Paris Le Bourget (LBG), with a fuel stop at Gander, Newfoundland (YQX). (The actual flight time was 7 hours.) The distance was 3,634 miles (5,848 kilometers). Aboard were 111 passengers and 11 crewmembers.

A Pan Am company publication explained the need for the stop at Gander:

The Jet could not be fully loaded with fuel before takeoff because of weight restrictions imposed at Idlewild. Fuel capacity of the jet is 17,398 gallons, allowing a cruising range of 4,400 miles. But with a full pay load of passengers, only 9,731 gallons could be taken aboard in New York.

Pan American Clipper, Vol. XV, No. 11, November 1958, Page 6, Column 5

The Boeing 707 was developed from the earlier Model 367–80, the “Dash Eighty”. It is a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings are swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer. The 707-121 is 145 feet, 1 inch (44.221 meters) long with a wing span of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters). The top of the vertical fin stands 42 feet, 5 inches (12.929 meters) high. The 707 pre-dated the ”wide-body” airliners, having a fuselage width of 12 feet, 4 inches (3.759 meters).

The first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3C-6 turbojet engines, producing 11,200 pounds of thrust (49,820 kilonewtons), and 13,500 pounds (60.051 kilonewtons) with water injection. This engine was a civil variant of the military J57 series. It was a two-spool axial-flow turbojet engine with a 16-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. The JT3C-6 was 11 feet, 6.6 inches (3.520 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.9 inches (0.988 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,235 pounds (1,921 kilograms).

The airliner’s empty weight is 122,533 pounds (55,580 kilograms). Maximum take off weight (MTOW) is 257,000 pounds (116,573 kilograms). At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,352.8 meters) of runway to take off. Its maximum speed is 540 knots (1,000 kilometers per hour). It had a range of 2,800 nautical miles (5,185.6 kilometers).

The Boeing 707 was in production from 1958 to 1979. 1,010 were built. As of 2011, 43 707s were still in service.

Boeing delivered N711PA to Pan American on 17 October 1958. The airliner was named Clipper America,  but was later renamed Clipper Mayflower. It was leased to Avianca (Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia S.A.) from 1960 to 1962. In April 1965 the 707 was upgraded to the –121B standard. This included a change from the turbojet engines to quieter, more powerful and efficient Pratt and Whitney JT3D-1 turbofans, producing 17,000 pounds of thrust. The wings were modified to incorporate changes introduced with the Boeing 720, and a longer tailplane installed. Pan Ayer of Panama purchased Clipper Mayflower 21 February 1975. It was later leased to Türk Hava Yolları, the Turkish national airline, and went on to serve with Air Asia Company Limited (an Air America aircraft service unit) and E-Systems. After 26 years of service, in August 1984 Clipper America was scrapped at Taipei.

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 707-121, N711PA, Clipper America, arriving at Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget, Paris, France, 27 October 1958. (Photograph © Jon Proctor. Used with permission.)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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15 October 1957

Clipper America at McMurdo Sound, 1957. (southpolestation.com)

15 October 1957: A Pan American World Airways Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser, Clipper America, flies from Christchurch, New Zealand, to the United States Navy’s Antarctic research station on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound.

The flight was to test the feasibility of conducting commercial flights to support the U.S. Navy’s operations in the Antarctic. It origintated with a load of passengers from NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and flew to San Francisco, California, then on to Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands. There, command of the aircraft was assumed by Pan Am’s Seattle Sector Chief Pilot, Captain Ralph Walter Savory, who was considered an expert in Arctic flying.

The Boeing Stratocruiser departed Honolulu and flew to Canton Island (named for a whaling ship that went aground there in 1854). Canton was a frequent waypoint for Pan Am’s transpacific flights. Clipper America remained there overnight, and continued to Fiji the next day. After another overnight stay, the airliner headed to Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand.

Airliner Lands in Antarctica

     MCMURDO SOUND, Antarctica, Oct. 15 (UP) — The Pan American Clipper America landed today at McMurdo Sound, completing the first commercial aircraft flight to Antarctica

     Capt. Ralph Savory, veteran of 23 years of arctic flying, lifted the 73-ton Pan American stratoclipper from the Christchurch runway at 10:25 a.m. and set course for McMurdo Sound.

     PASSENGERS on the 2,400-mile history-making flight included U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Francis H. Russell; New Zealand Labor Minister J. K. McAlpine, and 36 U.S. Navy officers and men assigned to Geophysical Year scientific stations.

     The crew had two pretty stewardesses, reputedly the first women ever to reach such a southernly point on the “white continent” as the Ross Island Navy Station on McMurdo Sound.

     They were dark-haired Patricia Hepinstall, 25, former model for I. Magnin, San Francisco, and a native of 3752 Garnet St., Houston, Tex., and blonde Ruth Kelly, 28, former school teacher from Holyoke, Colo., who resembles Princess Grace.

     BOTH ARE BASED in San Francisco and are probably the most thrilled members of the plane’s complement. They were to ride in an American versus New Zealand dog sled race and judge a beard-growing contest among the men at McMurdo.

     Seabees and other Navy specialists had a last fling with card games and steaks 21,000 feet in the sky. In a few more hours they would spread to seven scientific stations for 18-month tours of duty on the blizzard-beaten continent.

     TRAVELING as a passenger was Navy Capt. William F. (Trigger) Hawkes, air officer for Rear Adm. George Dufek, commander of “Operation Deepfreeze.” Hawkes is considered to have more Antarctic flying experience than any other pilot.

The Honolulu Advertiser, 101st year, No. 34,083, Tuesday, 15 October 1957, Page 2, Columns 3–5

“Shown just after climbing down from their nice, warm Clipper at McMurdo Sound is the crew that was on Pan Am’s Antarctic flight. Kneeling are 2nd Officer Earl Lemon, Stewardess Pat Hepinstall, Flight Engineer George Coppin, and 2nd Officer Bob Finley. Standing are Captain Don McLennan, Purser John Bell, Sterwardess Ruth Kelly, Flight Engineer Al Loeffler, 1st Officer Roy Moungovan, and the Aircraft Commander, Captain Ralph Savory.” (Pam Am Museum Foundation)

Following this flight to the Antarctic, Captain Savory was asked for his opinion as to the route’s viability. Because there was no alternate airport should landing at McMurdo not be possible (because of weather, or some other factor), Savory said that it was too dangerous for commercial operations. No further flights were made.

Pan American World Airways Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser, N1022V, Clipper America. (Boeing)

Pan American’s Clipper America was a Boeing Model 377-10-26 Stratocruiser, N1030V, serial number 15930. The airliner was delivered to Pan American on 30 March 1949 and named Clipper Southern Cross. Later the name was changed to Clipper Reindeer, and finally, Clipper America. (Nearly all of Pan Am’s Stratocruisers were named Clipper America at some time during their service with the airline.)

Marie Machris Westbrook. (Los Angeles Times)

On 27 July 1952, N1030V was operating as Flight 201 from Rio de Janeiro when a passenger cabin door opened at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters). A passenger, Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Machris Westbrook, was sucked out of her seat and fell to the Atlantic, below. The airliner safely returned to Rio. “Pan American officials were unable to explain how the door could have opened accidentally.” ¹ ²

N1030V was removed from service with Pan Am in 1961, and on 2 February 1962, delivered to Israeli Aircraft Industries, registered 4X-AOH. The airliner was converted to a military transport. In November 1962, it was placed in service with the Israeli Air Force, re-registered 4X-FOH, and finally, 4X-FPV.

The Boeing 377 was a large, four-engine civil transport which had been developed, along with the military C-97 Stratofreighter, from the World War II B-29 Superfortress long-range heavy bomber. It utilized the wings and engines of the improved B-50 Superfortress. The airplane was operated by a flight crew of four. It was a double-deck aircraft, with the flight deck, passenger cabin and galley on the upper deck, and a lounge and cargo compartments on the lower. The airliner was pressurized, and could maintain Sea Level atmospheric pressure while flying at 15,500 feet (4,724 meters). The Model 377 could be configured to carry up to 100 passengers, or 28 in sleeping births.

The Stratocruiser was 110 feet, 4 inches (33.630 meters) long with a wingspan of 141 feet, 3 inches (43.053 meters) and overall height of 38 feet, 3 inches (11.659 meters). Empty weight was 83,500 pounds (37,875 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 148,000 pounds (67,132 kilograms).

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 377-10-26 Stratocruiser N1030V, circa 1952. The airliner is carrying the name Clipper Southern Cross. (R.A. Scholefield Collection)

The airliner was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged 4,362.49-cubic-inch-displacement (71.489 liter) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major B6 four-row, 28-cylinder radial engines which had a Normal Power rating of 2,650 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m., and 2,800 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. Maximum Continuous. It produced 3,250 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. for takeoff (3,500 horsepower with water injection). The engines drove four-bladed Hamilton-Standard Hydromatic 24260 constant-speed propellers with a diameter of 17 feet, 0 inches (5.182 meters) through a 0.375:1 gear reduction. The Wasp Major B6 was 8 feet, 0.50 inches (2.451 meters) long, 4 feet, 7.00 inches (1.397 meters) in diameter, and weighed 3,584 pounds (1,626 kilograms).

The 377 had a cruise speed of 301 miles per hour (484 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 375 miles per hour (604 kilometers per hour). During testing by Boeing, a 377 reached 409 miles per hour (658 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) and the range was 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers).

Boeing built 56 Model 377 Stratocruisers, with Pan American as the primary user, and another 888 military C-97 Stratofreighter and KC-97 Stratotankers.

Captain Ralph Walter Savory, Pan American World Airways Master Pilot. (University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF-2008-31-16b)

Captain Ralph Walter Savory, Pan American World Airways Master Pilot, was born 14 October 1909, in Bennett Valley, Sonoma County, California. He was the second child of Walter Adrian Savory, a farmer, and Lillian Frances Philips Savory.

Ralph Savory attended Santa Rosa High School, where he was president of the aeronautics club. He graduated in 1928, then studied at Santa Rosa Junior College. He moved to San Francisco and worked as a mechanic to pay for flight lessons at “Speed” Johnson’s Flying School at San Mateo. He earned his private pilot certificate, No. 8105, in August 1929.

Ralph W. Savory’s Pilot’s Identification Card, issued by the Department of Commerce, 1 September 1929. (University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF-2009-31-7d)

Ralph W. Savory married Ms. Ida Scott (née Ida Elfreda Koffer) at Berkeley, California, 31 March 1934. The marriage was officiated by L.L. Cross Miu. They would have one child, Diane.

Savory and a friend bought a Curtiss Thrush. In 1933, Savory was issued a commercial pilot certificate. In 1935, he had the Thrush shipped to Alaska where he began flying in the remote parts of the territory (“bush flying”).

Ralph Savory’s Curtiss Thrush, 1935 (University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF-2009-31-1)

After a year gaining experience, Savory was hired as a pilot for Star Air Service (a predecessor of Alaska Airlines). He flew for Star for just under two years and then went to work for Pacific Alaska Airways in late 1938. This company was taken over by Pan American Airways.

During World War II, Pan American operated transport flights for the U.S. military. Flight crews were commissioned as reserve officers. Ralph Savory was commissioned a lieutenant, United States Naval Reserve, 22 July 1943, with date of precedence retroactive to 26 April 1943.

Following the war, Savory helped expand Pan Am’s operations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. He was designated as a Master Pilot and made sector chief pilot at Seattle.

In 1958 Captain Savory was one of the first of Pan Am’s pilots to be trained in the new turbojet-powered Boeing 707 airliner. As one of the world’s most experienced commercial pilots, Captain Savory retired in 1969.

Captain and Mrs. Savory in the cockpit of a Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-320, just prior to his final flight from London, England, to Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., 13 October 1969. He reached the mandatory retirement age effective at midnight on that date. (University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF-1993-28-1)

Mrs. Savory died in 1992. Two years later, Savory married Ms. Gladys T. Crum (née Gladys Theawilla Worden). She also died, in 2000.

Captain Ralph Walter Savory died at Spring Lake Village, Santa Rosa, California, 18 January 2010, at the age of 99 years.

¹ The Pittsburgh Press, Vol. 69, No. 35, Monday, 28 July 1952, Page 2, Columns 2 and 3

² For additional information about this incident, see Aviation Safty Network at  https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19520727-1

© 2020, Bryan R. Swopes

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