Dinner Key, A Flying Boat and the Mail: Pan Am!

Posted by on June 30, 2008

I keep reading about aviation, especially commercial aviation and quite frankly, it’s depressing to me.  All I hear about is lines, costs of fuel and how dismal it is in general.  You know maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

I do know that the romance of flying seems to have gone the way of leaded gas and actual glass bottles of soda.  Where’s the fun?  Where’s the flying off to destination unknown?  Like this show: Tales of the Gold Monkey (YouTube Clip) (now I’m dating myself, huh?)

Well, let’s take a trip back today and a little information on an airline that came to symbolize America.  This would be “Pan Am” or Pan American Airways.


Although today the airline is no more, there is a rich history that remains to be discovered, and perhaps rediscovered.  Including the well known founders, there is a lot to learn.  Let’s take a trip!


Founded in the late 1920’s by Juan Trippe and Charles Lindbergh, (funny how he keeps popping up? See my previous posts on him: Lindy1 Lindy2), Pan American Airways started out the way many airlines did back then: carrying mail. They soon expanded to carrying passengers on the tropical routes near Florida and Cuba and then to routes in the Pacific and also around the world.

Probably well known for the types of aircraft they flew, Pan Am, in the early years concentrated on the “flying boats” if only because of the many routes that only had landing for seaplanes.  The Martin series as well as the Boeing aircraft were sturdy, seaworthy, and had excellent characteristics needed for the long routes flown.

With some of the company early advertising efforts centered around Lindbergh (“The Lindbergh Trail”), perhaps one of the best additional events that happened for the company was the building of the terminal in Miami that came to be known as “Dinner Key”.  It was considered the “largest and most modern marine air terminal in the world…” (3)


In any event, Pan Am has a great history as well as the “romance” that air travel used to contain.  Take a look at the links below to get tons of excellent information and pictures!

Have a great day!


Tales of the Gold Monkey (Wikipedia)

Pan Am Air (excellent site!)

University of Miami Pan American Airways Archive

Pan American Archive (external site)

Backstory on US Mail and Aeronautics in the 20’s

Pan American Airways (Wikipedia)

“Flying Boat” Aircraft Pictures

Pan Am (Google Books link)

China Clipper link


(1-4) LOC, Prints & Photographs (also LOC in general)


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