Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am

Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am

Robert Gandt

Language: English

Pages: 350

ISBN: 0615611834

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Skygods, Robert Gandt, a Pan Am pilot for twenty-six years, gives the first inside account of Pan Am's unprecedented demise. To tell the complete story, Gandt interviewed hundreds of former Pan Am airmen and executives. Gandt reveals what really happened in the cockpits, where Pan Am's captains, dressed in Navy-style uniforms, once ruled their ships like petty tyrants. Though Pan Am captains were considered the best and the brightest in the industry, Skygods tells disturbing stories of captains who let stewardesses land their planes, who flew at the wrong altitude and in the wrong direction, and who tragically disappeared along with their planes into the night. Gandt takes readers behind the scenes at Pan Am's executive offices in the landmark Pan Am building - a massive edifice to the founder's personal vision. He shows how a series of impulsive and short-sighted CEOs succeeded in destroying one of America's greatest companies. Pan Am employees were rocked by the company's decision to purchase a domestic carrier - at an eventual cost of nearly a billion dollars. Strapped with debt and flying half-empty planes to places like Monrovia, Rabat, and Lagos, Pan Am then stunned its employees by selling its profitable Pacific routes. The airline that could bend the wills of American presidents was reduced to relying on the Shah of Iran for the financial salvation it would never receive. Ultimately, it was a senseless terrorist act over Scotland that shattered Pan Am forever - and ended an era in American travel. In 1966, Pan Am had reached the zenith of its wealth and influence. Under aviation pioneer Juan Trippe, the airline had risen from the muddy back-waters of Latin America to a place of preeminence in world commerce. Told from points of view of airmen and executives, Skygods gives the inside story on the demise of the world's most experienced airlines.

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Bernick. “Put your bags in the cockpit.” “Where should we sit?” “Where else? On your bags.” For the return flight to Berlin, he broke the same rule. He put his wife, Mai, in the cockpit. Approaching the Berlin terminal area, Bernick asked the air traffic controller, “How about a Rundflug?” He wanted to make a sightseeing tour around Berlin. That was okay too. The controllers had gotten into the spirit of the occasion. “Berlin is yours, Clipper.” It was a good night for breaking rules. At an

the hull. The distinctive round blue logo makes this vehicle instantly recognizable. You can see that it is a Clipper Ship—a commercial spacegoing vessel of Pan American World Airways. . . Every new-hire Pan Am pilot went to see the movie. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a fantasy created by writer Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick. In 1968, no one had yet flown to the moon, nor was anyone seriously thinking about commercial lunar flight. But it was assumed, even in science fiction,

themselves. Neither Trippe nor Allen seemed daunted by the immensity of the undertaking. They had become true believers. Each was behaving like an old partygoer, intoxicated by the glitz and sheen of one last great gala. A few brave souls had the temerity to question the deal. What if the 747 turned out to be a half-billion-dollar white elephant? Trippe scoffed at the notion. Look at the facts, he told the questioners. Pan Am was the strongest airline in the world. Its operating revenues now

October 18, 1927, Caldwell had in his possession an item of incalculable value: a float plane. It was a Fairchild FC-2 named La Nina, which Caldwell was ferrying to the Dominican Republic by way of Miami. Equipped with its pontoonlike floats, the Fairchild was independent of washed-out quagmires like the runway at Key West. To Pan American’s manager in Key West, J.E. Whitbeck, Caldwell looked like an angel dispatched by Jehovah. A Float Plane! Whitbeck pounced on the barnstormer. Would Caldwell

1985, Pan Am’s situation had changed. Ed Acker was wrestling with demons that exceeded even his Texas-sized imagination. Pan Am wasn’t just losing money, it was going through cash faster than a Middle East emirate. While the Atlantic and Pacific divisions were showing small profits and the South American operation was just breaking even, the domestic routes were racking up a projected 1985 loss of $250 million. Since the beginning of the eighties, Pan Am had transformed one and a half billion

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