Since Pan Am: 1992 - Present
The Virtual Pan Am Museum
When Pan Am began its final series of furloughs in the summer of1991 the company was very generous with travel privileges giving each employee one month of travel for each year of employment. I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity and took several wonderful trips in the fall of 1991 on my own and with family. Below, my mother & I flying from Krakow, Poland to Prague, Republic of Czech in September of 1991 after my final furlough from Pan Am.
I was fortunate to be offered a job with another airline in the November of 1991 and continued with various airlines until choosing to take a break in the fall of 2004.
Over the years the employees of Pan Am have moved on to many different airlines and aviation related jobs. Having worked at Pan Am is like having been a member of an elite college fraternity. Though there is no secret handshake the Pan Am connection is tight and still opens doors in many ways in the aviation world.
Because of the tight connection that many former employees feel towards the company and each other there are many different alumni groups including; The Clipper Pioneers (retired pilots), World Wings (retired flight attendants), The Pan Am Retirees Club (retired ground staff), and The Pan Am Historical Foundation (open to all including non employees). Many of these organizations have local chapters around the world hosting monthly social meetings. Additionally, these organizations host annual conventions of all the chapters. Below are some of the major fuctions hosted by the Pan Am alumni groups through the years.
In 1994 the Pan Am Historical Foundation in conjunction with Metropolitan Life Insurance (Met Life) hosted an event in the lobby of the former Pan Am Building.
A plaque was dedicated to the memory of Pan Am and indicated that the company’s world headquarters had been at the building for over 25 years. To the right I pose with Madeline Cuniff, Pan Am's first female flight attendant, at the event.
In 1995 there was a reunion in San Francisco to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Pan Am’s first trans-Pacific flight with the “China Clipper.” The US Navy hosted the event at the Alameda Naval Station near San Francisco. Prior to becoming a Naval Station Alameda had been the first base of the China Clipper and it was from there that the aircraft made its historical first flight in November of 1935.
In October of 1997 the World Wings organization of former flight attendants organized a wonderful cocktail party reunion at the rooftop restaurant of the former Pan Am Building to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pan Am. The event was open to all Pan Am groups and was well attended by alumni from around the world.
Also, in 1997 the city of Miami hosted an event at Pan Am’s original flying boat base, Dinner Key, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pan Am. This all day event included all sorts of activities and was even sponsored by the new Pan Am which had been flying a little over a year.
In 2001 there was a global Pan Am reunion open to all alumni groups and employees in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was to remember the 10th anniversary of the company’s demise and bring all the employees together to remember the many good times during their tenure with Pan Am. Baltimore was chosen for the venue as it was where the famous Martin M 130 “China Clipper” was built. Over 1,000 former employees attended the reunion and all had a wonderful time.
In 2005 there was a re-union of Pan Am’s Vietnam staff in Washington DC. The reunion was to remember the 30th Anniversary of Pan Am’s last flight out of Saigon in 1975 where the company went out of its way to evacuate all ground staff and their families to keep them safe from retribution from the North Vietnamese Government. The reunion was also open to all Pan Am staff that had participated in “Rest & Recreation” flights operated by Pan Am for US service men out of Vietnam during the conflict.
In 2006 the Museum of Flight (located at the San Francisco Airport) hosted a two day symposium to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Pan Am’s first trans-Pacific flight in 1935. There were various discussion panels including crew members who flew on some of the famous flying boats pictured below.
In the early 1970s the Pan Am “AWARE” Committee was founded by a group of Berlin based pilots (Airmen Worried About Retaining Employment). The goal of AWARE was to encourage employees to be politically active in encouraging their elected officials to support Pan Am against the unfair competitive practices of many foreign governments who owned their national airlines. AWARE was very effective through the years and even opened a small store selling “Pan Am” branded merchandise from a storage closet at the Miami Airport. Mary Goshgarian, a Clipper Club Hostess, in Miami ran the AWARE store and grew it from a closet to a large room with glass display cases at the Pan Am Flight Academy (just off the Miami Airport property). Below is a picture of me & Mary at the AWARE store in 1993.
When Pan Am shut down in December of 1991 Mary Goshgarian and her all volunteer helpers continued the AWARE store and were an invaluable resource for Pan Am employees around the world who used the store as a point of contact to find information on pensions, retirement benefits or to try and contact former colleagues. The store continues today at the Flight Academy and Mary is still very active hosting many social events including readings by authors of books about Pan Am to an annual party each December to remember Pan Am.
I have had the pleasure of attending many of these Pan Am events and reunions and it is always wonderful to be back in the company of my former colleagues.
In October of 2007 there will be a global Pan Am reunion in Miami to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Pan Am.
Below, Pan Am memorabilia on display at the San Francisco Airport Museum in November of 2005 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pan Am's first trans-Pacific flight in 1935.