Saturday, March 30, 2013

A blast from the aviation past

With the ease of travel and trade between China and the USA today, it's salutary to remember the years when such contacts were slow, laborious and very expensive.  Pan Am's China Clipper air service flew between San Francisco and Canton - today known as Guangzhou - in the 1930's.  The journey took a week (weather permitting), and stopped at Hawaii, Midway, Wake Island, Guam, Manila, Macao and Hong Kong.

1930's China Clipper timetable (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Here's a 1930's dramatized film report about the journey.  We've covered the China Clipper flying boats in these pages before, so those who remember that earlier article can see some of them in operation here.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.

Note, too, how travelers dressed for their flights as if for the theater or for business.  I think we've lost something with our overly casual approach, compared to what was, not so long ago, considered with awe as a miracle of modern engineering.



John Peddie (Toronto) said...

And to think...all without the TSA.

Must've been illegal.

Home on the Range said...

I have a photo somewhere of my first flight on Pan Am at age six. I was wearing a little sailor dress and had on white gloves. Mom was dressed very elegantly and Dad wore a tie. We knew what a special event that was. I remember looking up into the cockpit an saying "I want to do that". .

SiGraybeard said...

It's not just flying; people dressed up more elegantly for everything. My wife tells of putting on little white gloves to go a few miles from home in Jersey City across the river into New York, in the late 50s. People dressed up better for everything and society was, IMO, less coarse.

I shouldn't talk - I've never had to wear a tie to work, and haven't worn one for a "special event" in over 15 years.

Old NFO said...

Great video, and today it's 9 hours in a cattle car from the West and 14 hours from the East coast... And let's not talk about the 'dress'... Sigh

Stretch said...

On my first trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center (NASM)I met a mechanic who told of going from a PAN-AM mechanic to a USN mechanic on 8 Ded. 1941. All the China Clipper fleet and personnel were in service for the duration.
I love it when History smacks you upside the head like that.