The Pan Am Series – Part XVII: Death of a Grand Lady

Twenty-five years ago, Pan American World Airways ceased operations. Last night, 3 December 2016, was the Inaugural Clipper Gala hosted by the Pan Am Museum Foundation at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York. One of the foundation’s directors, Captain John Marshall, piloted the last Boeing 747 out of New York’s JFK airport for São Paulo, Brazil. After turning in after arrival, he was awoken to be informed that the company had closed down. This is his story about that flight, which first appeared in Airways Magazine in February 2001.

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Clipper Witch of the Wave at Sao Paolo, taken in 1991 (photo by Normando Carvalho, Jr)Clipper Witch of the Wave at Sao Paulo in 1991 (photo by Normando Carvalho, Jr)

Memories of a Last Flight

On 4 December 1991, Pan American World Airways ceased all operations. The night before, Captain John Marshall flew the last flight from New York Kennedy Airport to Sao Paulo, Brazil, flight 211, a Boeing 747, departing at 8:30 p.m. Arriving in Sao Paulo the next day, he was awakened from his post-flight sleep by a phone call advising him that the airline had ceased to exist and that all aircraft needed to be out of South America that afternoon. In “Death of a Grand Lady”, he writes about his experiences. The story first appeared in the February 2001 issue of Airways Magazine.

Below is his story in its entirety:

“It was a miserable early December night.  The ride to the airport seemed to take forever; riding in the last…

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