Pan American World Airways – Pan Am for short – was the major international US carrier for much of the 20th century. The airline pioneered long distance air travel and once had a route network spanning much of the globe.

A number of external factors and internal decisions contributed to the airline’s eventual bankruptcy in December 1991. The carrier that many people thought was too big to fail did, reminding us that no company, no matter how well known, is immune to the realities of business.

A Video About Pan Am

There is an excellent video about the airline online, called “Bankrupt – Pan Am”. This is from Bright Sun Films and runs for just over 18 minutes and I think it’s well worth checking out.

The history of the airline is covered in the beginning, with some great images and film selections. Making this really great are the original interview pieces with a former Purser who adds some interesting detail to the proceedings.

Of course, the issues that caused the airline to fail are discussed in detail. From the oil crisis in 1973 to the National merger, through to the Pacific route sale, it’s all here.

For those who are not aware of the history of the airline, this gives a decent enough overview of some of the factors in the airline’s demise.

Overall Thoughts

Hindsight is a funny thing and looking back, there are many things people might have done differently. However, in the context of the time, people did what they thought was right and the story ended up playing out as it did.

The series of unfortunate accidents and terrorist attacks certainly did not help either. There are a number of good books on what happened to the airline, and SkyGods: The Fall of Pan Am by Robert Gandt is certainly an interesting read.

Did you ever fly on Pan Am? What were they like? Maybe you worked for them? I’d love to hear anyone’s recollections. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Steve Fitzgerald on via Wikimedia Commons.