Thursday, June 17, 2010

Photo: Tehran August 1972

PND on the tarmac, Tehran 1972
This will be a weekly series of photos from my archive and I hope you enjoy the selection.

This photo is a good point of embarkation for my series:

Pan Am Clipper Pacific Trader (N744PA) is parked on the tarmac at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran. That's me in the foreground clutching my Air New Zealand carry on. My father, grand father and I were traveling back to New Zealand after I had spent the summer in the UK and my father had attended a Columbia summer business program.

The 747 jumbo was still relatively new and in those years the upstairs section was designed to be a lounge and dining room. Dad worked for the hotels division of Pan Am and we regularly traveled first class which included the upstairs section. In our experience there was never anyone up there, but there was this wonderful u shaped couch which stretched around the back of the cabin. If you were quick and lucky and the flight attendants allowed, it was possible to grab a section and lie prone from Hong Kong to Karachi. As long as you were strapped in they never woke you.

The 747 was too large for many airports at that time and so passengers tended to be bussed to the terminal. As the plane came to a stop in Tehran a contingent of armed troops came and encircled the plane with each soldier 10 or so yards apart. There they stood facing outward, guarding the aircraft until we departed. To this day I'm not too sure they were ever equipped to protect us.

I never kept track of the planes I traveled on but I was able to identify this 747 from the photo. Curiously, it was loaned by Pan Am to Iran Air about 2 years later. I like the two well dressed travelers at the bottom of the stairs - a sight not often seen now a days.

Photo: Flickr

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