Yankee Clipper Makes It’s First Transatlantic Flight (1939)

These were the glory days of flying, when you would dress up to get on a plane, and it was a luxurious experience. The glamorous flying boats of Pan Am crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific, taking passengers to faraway lands.

Below is a terrific old film that we uncovered showing the Yankee Clipper on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic, departing from Baltimore.

Here is an article from The Baltimore Sun, published on March 23th, 1939, a few days prior to departure.

The flying boat Yankee Clipper is scheduled to take off from Baltimore on its first transatlantic flight this week-end, it was learned last night.

Pan American Airways’ plans for the initial Atlantic crossing of the huge air liner called for it to leave for Europe tomorrow afternoon, but it is expected now it will not take off before Saturday or Sunday.

The flying boat, commanded by Capt. Harold Gray, will leave Baltimore early in the afternoon on the day of departure, flying directly to the Azores. It is scheduled to land at Horta about daybreak the next morning.

Present plans call for the ship to remain at Horta overnight, continuing on to Marseille, France, via Lisbon, Portugal, the following day. From Marseille it will continue its leisurely trip to Southampton, England, and then to the Irish transatlantic air base at Roynes, at the mouth of the river Shannon.

Passenger service will not be started until Pan American has obtained a certificate of public necessity and convenience from the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and a mail contract from the Postoffice Department. Hearings on the line’s applications will begin at Washington a week from Monday.

The plane ended up leaving Baltimore on the 26th and landed safely at the Azores at 11:06 local time. The total trip took 17 hours and 32 minutes at an average speed of 165 miles per hour over 2,800 miles.

Interestingly, it also set a world record for the largest number of passengers flying over the Atlantic in a heavier-than-air machine with 21 on board. The flying boat weighed 42 tons and had a capacity of 74 total passengers.

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Yankee Clipper - Boeing 314
Yankee Clipper – Boeing 314

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