Revisiting the Ghosts of Airlines Past

The airline limped along until 1991 when it declared bankruptcy and sold off its assets, some of which were purchased by Delta. There were attempts to get other Pan Am airlines off the ground, including a discount carrier that flew U.S.-Caribbean routes for a couple of years but these were related to the original in name only. Today, Pan Am lives on in EverythingPanAm, a site filled with personal histories, some great old photos and even a section offering tips on Pan Am memorabilia.

Speaking of memorabilia, maybe you'll get lucky and Anthony Toth will invite you to see his Pan Am plane. When I wrote about Mr. Toth in 2012, the avid Pan Am buff had lovingly restored a 1970s/1980s vintage 747 cabin, which he kept in his garage in California. He's been busy since then. The aircraft is now 60 feet long, 22 feet high and includes the 747's signature upper deck. Today, its home is a warehouse (no one has a garage that big).

Pacific Southwest Airlines

Better known as PSA to a generation of Californians, this popular San Diego-based airline was probably best known for the big smiles painted on each aircraft's "face" (yes, just beneath the nose). Made sense since its nickname was "The World's Friendliest Airline," but the "world" part was something of a stretch since PSA's only destinations outside the Western U.S. were Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Fun fact: PSA's 1949 inaugural flights from Burbank to Oakland, Calif., cost $9.95.

What happened: The usual ups and downs of a changing economy (just ask any current airline exec, you'll get an earful) and the airline also had its share of scares and tragedies including a deadly 1972 hijacking rescue effort in San Francisco (among the wounded was the actor who played Hop Sing in the old "Bonanza" TV show). Ultimately, the airline agreed to merge into US Airways. Which brings us back to Allegheny, which morphed into US Airways before morphing into the "new American Airlines".

Whew. Makes tracing your own family tree seem downright simple.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...