Posted by: Korry | September 27, 2011


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There has never been–nor ever will be–another airline like Pan American World Airways. It was the iconic American airline (despite having virtually no domestic US air service for much of its existence). It served as the innovator and pace setter for the entire aviation industry. From flying boats to jumbo jets, PAN AM took people in all sorts of different aircrafts to all corners of the globe…and as a pilot, there was no airline that could have possibly been more exciting to work for…at least from what I’ve heard.

And now, PAN AM was coming to life on TV? This was a show I just HAD to see!

Several of my airline pilot friends and I have been eagerly awaiting this new ABC series. We have often talked about how the ideal airline pilot gig would have been to be a PAN AM pilot in the 1960s. Flying was fun, sexy and spontaneous. Crews were young, overnights were long (due to many cities only have once a week service or less) and parties lasted for days from what I’ve heard. The flying itself wasn’t routine, and it was challenging in a completely different way than it is today. Quite simply, it was everything a pilot wants when he gets into flying in the first place.

I guess it goes without saying that the expectations of my friends and I for ABC’s “PAN AM” were sky high (pun intended). Since we would never get to actually live out the 1960’s PAN AM lifestyle, maybe this show could help us do so vicariously. Maybe it could tap into the romanticism of flying and show some of the edginess of it. Maybe, if it’s really successful, some of that romanticism will rub off on pilots, flight attendants and even customers today!

So how did ABC do on opening night? Well, as one of my best friends said to me after the PAN AM premier, “Korry, I missed my calling.” I guess that means it was a success!

The show “PAN AM” follows the lives of several flight attendants and pilots at the dawn of the jet age. I didn’t really know what to expect for a plot, but it appears that there are several subplots including some romances and some covert government jobs (which my friend was telling me may be fairly accurate. Apparently, because of PAN AM’s giant international footprint, it was the perfect cover business for CIA operatives). I’m also not someone who gets hooked into TV shows (I think The West Wing was the last one I followed regularly), but the first episode definitely had enough hooks to get me to try to come back next Sunday at 10pm!

Sure, there are some parts that require a little imagination. For instance, I’m guessing that these same flight attendants and pilots will be flying together all the time…which didn’t normally happen for much longer than a month or so. And, because PAN AM doesn’t have planes exactly sitting around anymore and because the airports of the 1960s looked a lot different from airports today, there seems to be a lot of computer-generated imagery (CGI) work. It’s good CGI, but still CGI and you can tell.

On the other hand, I think they did an outstanding job thinking about being aeronautically and historical correct. The cockpit appears to actually look like that of a real Boeing 707 (this is a huge pet peeve of mine). The uniforms are authentic. The lingo seems to be pretty spot on. Etc, etc. I just hope they keep up this same standard!

All in all, well done, ABC. You didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can’t wait to find out what happens next week…and the week after that! I’ll be tuning in for the airline, and if the plots stay entertaining, my guess is the public will stay aboard PAN AM, too!


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