|Out the window of a 707|
Whether the writers of Pan Am have pulled it off as well as Mad Men is debatable but, at least from my memory, they did get a lot of the ambiance right. My first flight would have been on one of the 707s that this first batch of TV passengers flew on. London to Beirut in August 1968. My father was about to take up his first position with Intercontinental Hotels which, at the time, was a subsidiary of Pan Am. From this point on we flew Pan Am almost exclusively until the early 1990s and, while we didn't fly first class on that first flight, we were lucky enough as 'employees' to get upgraded almost always thereafter.
|PAA first class grapes.|
Of course this being TV, the writers had to add the requisite sex and intrigue story lines. One of the characters - a stewardess - is recruited as a pseudo-spy for what we expect will be future adventures. As ridiculous as this story line seems, it was widely assumed in the 1960-70s that American multinational companies had CIA or intelligence officers on their pay rolls. Whether they were hired at the direction of the intelligence services or subsequently recruited isn't clear to me although a combination may be likely. The improbable story line in Pan Am reminded me of a story my father had told a few times about a colleague at Intercontinental (IHC).
|On board with Ms. PanAm Sydney|
The first Pan Am episode reminded me of this very tenuous evidence of collaboration between the intelligence community and big business, and I looked up our hero. (He has a distinctive name which I remembered after all these years). Sure enough, he has contributed to an oral history of the intelligence services and he served in military intelligence in the 1950s and his service record was the CIA. There was no mention of IHC. So perhaps truth is stranger than fiction.
|PND on the tarmac in Tehran|
In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.
I now have an iPad version of this book for sale ($4.99) on the Blurb site which you can find here: STORE
I have to say, even on the iPad the book looks pretty good.