Man Recreates PanAm 747 in His Garage

As a director of global sales for United Airlines, Toth got his hands on Pan Am accessories when his employer acquired Pan Am's Pacific routes and many of its aircraft in the late 1980s.

"I happened to know someone in the warehouse who knew that I loved aviation memorabilia," Toth said. "So every night for several weeks, I drove my little Honda Civic to a warehouse and filled every inch of my trunk and front seat and back seats. It would have gone in the trash. I saved a piece of aviation history and memorabilia that has become a useful part of a replication."

The cabin does have its practical uses. Toth watches television or movies on a small flat-panel screen on the wall, the one flaw in the design and a concession to modern life. He also holds staff meetings in the cabin and serves beverages and peanuts in reproduced Pan Am packages.

Toth's Pan Am cabin is still a work in progress. This holiday, he plans to redo the circular staircase typical of Boeing 747 aircraft. And he's still looking for certain accessories, such as the blue pneumatic headsets that Pan Am used before the 1970s. In addition, he would like to complete the outside of the cabin with the blue stripe and globe design typical of all Pan Am airplanes. And perhaps one day, he will reconstruct the rest of the plane.

"I would love to be able to put this in a museum somewhere, along with other cabins that I've wanted to build for a long time," Toth said. "I think Pan Am 747 is but one of many aircraft that we should be restoring to their original cabin design and decor and allowing people to see what air travel was 30 to 40 years ago."

And that really is why Toth has spent so much time and money on this project: nostalgia for the journeys of his childhood.

"Ultimately, Pan Am was a pioneer for so many things that we take for granted today," Toth said. "People today travel from point A to point B and it's really more about affordable transportation. Back then, travel was really more about the journey. I guess deep down inside that's what I'm trying to recreate, is that whole aura of how great travel was back then."

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