The PanAm Clipper Arrives in Manila


1935 proved to be quite a historic year for the Philippines.

In 1935, the Philippines approached a significant milestone towards independence as it transitioned from the Insular Government as part of a U.S. territory to the Commonwealth of the Philippines, as enacted by the Tydings – McDuffie act of 1934. The act mandated U.S. recognition of independence of the Philippine Islands as a separate and self-governing nation after a ten-year transition period.

Signing the Constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth - March 23, 1935

Signing the Constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth – March 23, 1935

In September of that year, presidential elections were held and Manuel L. Quezon was proclaimed President. The new Commonwealth government was inaugurated on the morning of November 15, 1935. Ceremonies were held on the steps of the Legislative Building in Manila. The event was attended by a crowd of around 300,000 people. Interesting note regarding the photo below. The Philippine Normal College is directly behind the Legislative Building and the Manila City Hall wasn’t built until 1939.

Commonwealth Inauguration Ceremony-1935

Inauguration Ceremonies - 1935

President Manuel Quezon swearing in ceremony-1935.

President Manuel Quezon swearing in ceremony-1935.

Okay, so that was a pretty big deal. The Philippines had been under Spanish rule for 400 years and then as an American colony for another 35 years and was now on the brink of getting its independence. But, another event that year would promote the Philippines onto the world platform with the inaugural transpacific flight of the Pan American Airways Clipper.

PanAm early-route-ad-small1935 marked Pan Am’s inauguration of pan-Pacific flight operations and Sikorsky S-42b’s became their first “Clippers”, sporting spacious interiors and 4 powerful, ocean-crossing engines. But it was the more powerful, streamlined Martin 130’s and later, the Boeing 314’s that are most long remembered as the “Pan Am Clippers” of adventure and romance. These were the Clippers of lore that captured the imagination through radio shows and even movies of that era.

The China Clipper (NC14716) was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific air service from San Francisco to Manila in November, 1935. Built at a cost of $417,000 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, MD., it was delivered to Pan Am on October 9, 1935. Equipped with gigantic pontoons, the clippers were actually flying boats of a sort, in the loosest of terms. Because runways were so rare and expensive in the 1930′s, many of Pan Am’s extensive routes operated from the biggest runway in the world: the ocean.

PanAm's China Clipper

PanAm’s China Clipper

The Pan American Airways flight that took off on Nov. 22, 1935, was the first regularly scheduled flight across the oceans of the world. It was hailed as the beginning of “a giant new age,” and the Martin 130 seaplane named China Clipper was called “the greatest airplane ever built in America.” PanAm Clipper-Flight Log

On November 29th after 59 hours and 48 minutes of flying time, the China Clipper reached Manila, traveling via Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam, establishing trans-pacific airmail service and delivered over 110,000 pieces of mail.

Capt Edwin Musick

Capt Edwin Musick

Fred Noonan

Fred Noonan

The crew for this flight included Edwin C. Musick as Pilot and Fred Noonan as Navigator. The inauguration of ocean airmail service and commercial air flight across the Pacific was a significant event for both Manila and the world. Fred Noonan’s career would later end up tragically as Amelia Earhart’s navigator on their doomed world flight in June 1937.

Capt. Musick at the controls.

Above: Captain Ed Musick at the controls of the PAA M-130. Behind the co-pilot is the radio operator position. Above them was a large hatch, which was open after landing.

Pan Am China Clipper

Another hatch was opened out on the nose where the mooring lines were tied. The flight engineer, who monitored the four Pratt & Whitney 14 cylinder radial engines, had a totally separate compartment back where the wings joined. Passengers boarded from a large top hatch near the tail of the M-130. There were only water landings and take-offs. It was truly a flying boat.

PanAm Clipper-NC14714 deplaning at Honolulu

“Cast Off!” Like a stone skipped by a giant hand, the China Clipper last week skittered in long hops across the Pacific. Biggest hop was the 2,400 miles to Honolulu, accomplished in the slow time of 21 hours because of head winds and the heavy load. So full of philatelic mail was the huge plane that her fittings had to be stripped and two crew members left behind to make room for 115,000 letters.First day cover

 At Honolulu some of this cargo was distributed during the night’s halt. More was added in the shape of mail, ice-cream, Thanksgiving dinners, odds & ends, and 14 Pan American employees to be carried to Midway and Wake. Off at dawn, the Clipper, loaded almost to capacity, flew on to Midway, landed within one minute of schedule in time for fishing, baseball in the afternoon. Next day, the ship lost a day by crossing the International Date Line to Wake for another night’s layover before heading for Guam. Thus rested, the crew remained fresh as the long trip progressed.” Source: Time Magazine issue: Dec 2, 1935

The inaugural flight went routinely as far as Guam, but then there was great consternation in Manila. If it continued the next day to Manila, it would arrive a day before all the festivities were planned. Somebody had completely overlooked the International Date Line ! The flight was detained in Guam to allow the arrival in time for the celebration.

As the rugged hills of the Philippines came to view, the China Clipper’s crew, up to then, too preoccupied with the innumerable tasks of the job, began to realize the significance of this achievement in American aviation.  They were pleased that America’s air service, American aircraft and American personnel should be the first to accomplish scheduled air transport service over the world’s greatest ocean.

At 3:32 p.m. (Manila time), the China Clipper came to a landing in Manila Harbor greeted by the cheering crowd of thousands—on schedule, 59 hours and 48 minutes of flying time since leaving California.PanAm Clipper landing on Manila Bay-logo

When the Clipper first appeared over Manila “like an enormous bird” that day in November, 1934, people ran out of their homes to watch it. At the Manila Hotel, guests ran out into the gardens to gape as the plane circled the hotel itself, before swooping down into the bay with a shuddering splash of white water; then propelled itself with its engines up to the pontoon float which had been prepared for it at Cavite. The Manila Hotel, Beth Day Romulo

From the diary of Gov.Gen F.B. Harrison: “Arrival at 3:30 p.m. of the China Clipper –the first commercial airplane on the United States-China service. Like a great silver bird. Tremendous excitement –women rather hysterical. Perfect landing of the big plane in the harbor. Simultaneous arrival of the French Admiral on his ship. Everyone mistook the salutes for the Admiral as being a tribute to the plane! ”

Clifton Forster, a young teenager at the time, related that the Clipper had to make several passes around the bay as there was so many boats crowded around the landing area that Capt. Musick feared he would swamp the smaller boats.”

PanAm Clipper lands-Nov1935-NASM-logo

One of my readers, David Record, kindly submitted the photographs below that his great-uncle, S. Davis Winship took that memorable day. Mr. Winship was a prominent businessman in Manila who later purchased the first round-the-world air ticket in 1937 at the then astronomical cost of $2308.88.

S. Davis Winship at Cavite dock with Clipper-1939 (courtesy of D. Record)

S. Davis Winship at Cavite dock with Clipper-1939 (courtesy of D. Record)


During our production of our documentary “Victims of Circumstance” , I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Catherine Cotterman Hoskins, whose family settled in Manila in 1900. We talked about her family’s history in Manila as well as her dad, Leo Cotterman’s role as one of the city’s influential business leader and their eventual internment by the Japanese at the University of Santo Tomas. Unfortunately Catherine has since passed but she also entertained us with stories of old Manila during the pre-war days. Here’s her recollection of that memorable day when the Clipper flew onto Manila Bay.

Ms. Catherine Cotterman Hoskins

Ms. Catherine Cotterman Hoskins

“There would be “Musick” in the air that November afternoon in 1935, and thousands of people had gathered on the Luneta and surrounding roof gardens overlooking Manila Bay to watch and hear it happen. My family and I were atop the University Club Building keeping an eye on the time and listening for the first sounds. Then, suddenly there was an unfamiliar steady humming of engines as a beautiful, silver bodied, 25-ton aircraft appeared out of a puffy white cloud! The crowd roared with cheers and screams as everyone witnessed the arrival of the very first airplane to bridge the waters of the Pacific Ocean–8,000 miles from Alameda, California to Manila, Philippines! The China Clipper of Pan American Airways made history that day, and the skipper was a man named E.C. Musick.

I was a 14-year-old kid at that magical moment and I remember telling myself that someday I would be onboard a Clipper flying high in the sky. I did not know when or why or how my dream would happen–but it did come to pass.”

In 1936, the Clipper began carrying passengers. The service was first class and legendary, with fine food served on fine china. A one-way ticket to Manila, including overnight stays at Pan Am hotels in Honolulu, Midway, Wake and Guam, cost $950 -the equivalent of $14,650 in current dollars.

Catherine’s dream came true as she took the Clipper on a return flight to Manila from the United States departing from Alameda, CA. in 1940. She describes the flight back.

 “In 1935, Pan American’s contract with the U.S. Government was to fly the U.S. mail. Passengers were not included. Mail was the number one priority–then cargo, followed by passengers in 1936. Weight was the chief concern. Everything and everyone had to be weighed before boarding the Clipper. If there was a question of over weight, passengers faced the possibility of being excluded from that flight.

Martin Clipper at Alameda awaits boarding passengers

“The time had come to walk down the ramp and climb aboard the Martin M-130 named the Philippine Clipper. First, the Crew made the walk, then the Steward came back and escorted the five passengers into the plane. There was a huge crowd of people watching us and hollering words of farewell and good luck!”

PanAm Clipper-M-130 interior

“We settled into our seats looking around at our home-in-the-sky for five days while Island hopping from Honolulu to Midway to Wake, Guam and Manila–our final destination. All Pan American Clippers were “Flying boats” with pontoons for water landings and take-offs–especially required by the founder, Juan Trippe.

It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The engines started up, the people outside were cheering and those of us inside were praying a little, I’m sure. Chuck (her cousin, Charles Butler) and I looked at each other, smiled and crossed our fingers. Then the thrill of our adventure began in full as the Clipper taxied out under the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, turned around, started the take-off skimming along the water–giving us that indescribable feeling of acceleration–and there we were, up in the sky and flying over that beautiful Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii!”

PanAm Clipper-M-130 interior

“The lounge, which is where the passengers spent most of their time in flight, was very comfortable. We all introduced ourselves and by dinnertime we had become very friendly and chatty. Meals aboard the clipper were absolutely fantastic and food was always available on the buffet. Smoking was not allowed anywhere in the airplane. There were double-decker berths in the area between the lounge and the lavatory–which was located near the tail.” 

PanAm Clippers diners

Pan Clipper-interiorPan Clipper-berths

When the berths were made up for the night, the Steward assigned each of us to our own. By this time we had become acquainted with the officers in the crew. They were all personable and delightful men. Captain Turner made us feel safe and secure 10,000 feet up in the heavens. It was easy to fall asleep that night, but, around midnight, I woke up feeling quite cold. The curtains parted and I heard the Steward explaining that the Captain had to climb to 12,000 feet to get over a rain storm and that it would be cold for a while. He covered me with a couple of lovely, warm blankets and I was off to dreamland once more.”

In 1935, Douglas Willard was hired by Pan American Airways for a plum job in the Traffic Department on Treasure Island (San Francisco, CA.), handling Clipper flights to the Orient. “It really was a terrific, exciting job for a kid like me. After all, this was the beginning of a new era in air travel. I was hired by Jack Harchow, head of Personnel, who later on promoted me to Reservation Control for $125 bucks a month,” said Willard. “Then, three years later, I was transferred to Manila. They sent me by Matson Lines to Honolulu, and from there I flew on the China Clipper. What an experience that was.”Doug Willard in Manila

He worked for Pan American as a ticket agent and representative from his office within the Manila Hotel for the next three years. Doug did everything from issue tickets to helping with the baggage. A launch would take the passengers from the dock out to the awaiting Clipper in Manila Bay.

PanAm Clipper - Manila Hotel is in the background.




After WWII started, everything was put on hold until after the war. “It was a good thing there wasn’t a single Clipper in Manila on December 8, 1941,” continued Doug. “There wouldn’t have been anything left of the plane when the Japanese bombed Manila.” Doug Willard, along with over 4000 Americans, spent the next three years interned at Santo Tomas. (update: see comments below noting that there was another Clipper docked in Manila Bay at the onset of the war.)

PanAm Clipper over Nielsen Field-1939

In the photo above, the Clipper heads south, passing over the old Manila Polo Club field. Nielsen Field is in the background.

Few know that the seawall that forms a basin where Manila Yacht Club is now located was initially built by the Americans as a place where they could anchor their seaplanes called the China Sea Clippers. However, the United States Federal Aviation disapproved the design and the declared the basin unsafe for anchorage as the breakwater was not high enough to arrest the strong current and the area too exposed to the typhoon winds that seasonally blow into Manila. Manila Yacht Club seized the opportunity to seek permission to use it and soon after an airy two-story clubhouse was built on the site. Source:


I recall flying with my parents in the Fifties. It was quite the dressy affair then. People would get decked out in their fine clothes; both men and women would wear suits. It was very uncomfortable as flights then were extremely long. It took several days to fly from Manila to Seattle. One one occasion, my mom and I flew to HongKong on a Boeing B-377 “Strato”Clipper that was fondly called “the pregnant guppy”. As a seven year old, I had a marvelous time running up and down the stairs from the passenger seat level to the lounge below. That is, until the lovely stewardess put a stop to that.

PanAm Clipper-Pregnant Guppy

And lastly, I’d like to offer this photo of me. I was probably 5 or 6 on another flight to somewhere (my mom loved to travel) with my new set of Pan Am Wings and official Junior Captain’s hat ! (photo taken in Hong Kong)

Lou by PanAm plane-1950

From the 1920’s until it ceased operations on December 4, 1991, Pan American Airlines symbolized all that was luxurious in air travel. Elite fliers packed some of the first commercial use jumbo jets and were treated to delicious rounds of meals served by bright and beautiful girls in couture uniforms. Celebrities, businessmen and “Rainbow Class” alike jetted-off to far-flung vacation spots across the globe on this mega airline, the US’s first International carrier. But government de-regulations and stiff competition, among other reasons, caused the demise of this once great airline. We traded in free martinis, white linen, leg room and tea service for $7 beer, $5 nuts and $30 checked bags. Alas, today’s kids will never experience the thrill of being granted souvenir wings or junior captain’s hats.

Here’s a recommendation of a wonderful BBC-produced documentary about Pan Am although I must warn you that it’s about an hour long.

Please feel free to browse through the archives for articles I’ve written in the past. I continue to add and update my posts with photos and comments as they come in. You can access them by the menu on the right hand side of this blog under: Archives: Previous Posts

Thank you again for all of your wonderful comments and emails. I’m thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed reminiscing about our wonderful heritage of Manila.


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32 Responses to The PanAm Clipper Arrives in Manila

  1. Wm Marvin Rose says:

    Wonderful & exciting trip with this story of the Pan-Am Clippers! I remember taking the same route through Guam, Wake, Midway, Hawaii & then California on a Boeing Stratocruiser double decker…….Flying was a glorious adventure back then! Thanks for this wonderful story Lou!

  2. Steve Fellerman says:

    When I came to the States for college in 1970, I was booked on the inaugural TWA 747 from Honolulu to San Francisco. But because of a pilot strike, the 747 flight was cancelled and I had to fly something else…a 707 I believe.
    So my chance of a small part in aviation history was lost.

    As for there not being any Clippers in Manila when war broke out, there was one somewhere in the South Pacific.
    The U.S. did not want that plane to fall into Japanese hands, so it had to take a very circuitous route westward taking it through Africa and then South America before landing in New York.

  3. Bohmfalk George says:

    Lovely installment, Lou, as always. Thanks.

  4. Juan Ramos says:

    Hi Lou. Thank you for sharing a great story. We try to provide a gentle reminder of this romantic era at our hotel which is an homage to Pan American. Please check us out at . May we share this story with our guests? Mabuhay! Juan Ramos

  5. lougopal says:

    Of course, you are welcome to share the story and thanks for visiting my site.

  6. Chip Eck says:

    Great article Lou! I remeber flying on the Pan Am Clipper to the U.S.A. From the Philippines in 1953. It was the B-377 and my Mom and we had births to sleep in as well as the lounge downstairs. It was like flying in a space ship to me as such a young kid! I remember we all got Pan Am flight bags with toilet articles, slippers, sleep masks and other assorted goodies. I do remember running up and down thenstairs to the lounge until my Dad caught me and that stopped quickly! Over the years, we flew Pan Am all over the world and it was always such a special and very luxurious way to travel. My Dad was a Pan Am Million Mile Club member as he traveled a lot!

    I travel in my job now however it has gone from luxurious accomodations, great food and people dresses to look their best to getting on a bus with wings with theeople of WalMart! There are some exceptions to this of course, mostly on the international routes. We were all very lucky to experience flying when it really was special!

    Thanks once again Lou for bringing back some great memories!

  7. Maria says:

    Lovely post as always! I think that time for air travel was romantic indeed. I remember my first plane ride when I was 11, my grandma told me to dress up and it was a brand new Boeing plane 🙂

  8. Dave Pratt says:

    I love these stories Lou, they make me appreciate my time in Manila so much more. Keep them coming!

  9. Antonio Bouffard Vicente says:

    YES, it was a beautiful aircraft! I was 9 years old. My parents and I went to Luneta Park after dinner to look at the China Clipper. Thank you for all the pictures and articules of Manila Nostalgia. I have learned more from them and Internet than from my shool days.

  10. Patrick John F. Mansujeto says:

    Good Day! We would like to ask permission to have one of your picture here be published in our book. The picture i am referring to is the one where-in the Clipper was landing in the Manila Bay. We will observe the proper acknowledgement and citation.

  11. Philip Garcia says:

    Hi Lou,

    First off…I made contact with Ricky Catala and his lovely wife Carmen. They are in Bangkok now. Carmen is in the Operations Division of US embassies and Consulates across a large area south of Europe and east to China. Rick is doing great, working also on staff at the US Embassy there in Bangkok. We had a good laugh about the picture of your band back in the day.

    Ah…the Pan Am StratoCruisers. Spent many, many hours on-board, en-route from San Francisco to Manila. As well as the old PAL DC-4, DC-6, DC-6B and then the DC-7. Funny story: I was wandering around the cabin one night on the B337, unable to sleep, and headed down to the Lounge. There was 1 very pretty Scandinavian flight attendant in waiting to a gentleman who was reading a magazine. He left and the magazine remained behind. To my young eyes of 7 years of age, I could not believe my luck when the magazine turned out to be a modest version of a Playboy-style pictorial. Of course, I was riveted by the pictures. But the flight attendant was not amused. She came over, took the magazine away from me, bopped me on the head playfully, and commented: I don’t want you to get the impression that all the women you will meet in your life look like this and will be willing to shed their clothes for a measly magazine!! What a great lesson I learned that night.


  12. Pat Horne says:

    Lou: Phil Garcia was nice enough to relay your article to me. As to whether there was another Clipper in the South Pacific on Dec. 7, 1941; yes there was. My dad, Win Horne, was the chief mechanic for Pan Am at Wake. On Dec. 8th or 9th, with a Clipper in the harbor, the Japanese attacked a squadron of P-40 fighters which had been conveniently staged down the runway. The ground crew, my dad included, hid under a pier until the attack was complete. Although the Clipper took quite a few hits, it was still airworthy. The captain assembled all company personnel that wanted to go, and safely flew to Pearl Harbor. Sadly, some of my dad’s crew were afraid to fly and spent the war in prison. Phil and I both retired from United, but the connection to Pan Am is very strong.

  13. Ramon Lebron says:

    You mentioned that on Nov. 29, 1935, the navigator of the China Clipper that landed in Manila was Fred Noonan. Did you know that he was Amelia Earhart’s navigator when they both disappeared on July 2, 1937?

  14. Frank H. Stagner says:

    Please, there was one more CLIPPER in the area. She was an S-42 and was known as the HONG KONG Clipper.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, (Manila Time) she still was moored or docked, waiting for the crew to board
    her when she came under attack by two or three Zero Fighters. No need to say more!

    My Uncle David Featherstone, was the new Cabin Boy and was lucky to have escaped the vicious attacks by the Japanese fighter planes.

  15. Ed Dover says:

    Yes, and that was the Pacific Clipper – the Boeing B314 number NC18602. Commanded by Captain Robert Ford and his crew. Caught between Noumea, New Caledonia and Auckland, New Zealand when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The resultant flight westbound around the world to avoid enemy action and get their flying boat safely home to New York is the subject of my book “The Long Way Home – Revised Edition”. I was a Flight Radio Officer for Pan Am from November, 1942 to the Spring of 1948. Made many flights on board the flying boats between San Francisco, Hawaii and the South Pacific during the war. Much of my book is based on my personal interviews with Captain Ford as well as interviews with Eugene Leach, one of the radio officers who joined Ford at Noumea for the long flight home. I still have the original interview tapes.

    Ed Dover

  16. FE E SARANGAY says:

    Thanks for bringing back great memories.
    I joined Pan Am 1974 till closing Dec 1991 . Travelled from luxurious accommodations, great people looking their best, I even sat on the first class with Jacqueline Kennedy on her trip to Hong Kong.
    It was also the unofficial flag carrier of the United States. I was really lucky to joined this prestigious and the largest international air carrier in the US

  17. Stephen Sanders says:

    Thanks Lou for a wonderful trip! My Dad Dick Sanders was a flight engineer from ’37 to ’47. Capt Don Thomas was a friend and his son sent me your wonderful site. When my Dad was in assisted living in Florida there was a mechanic who had a connection with the West to East flight from Honolulu thru Burma etc to keep the plane from the Japanese. Incidentally if flew with automotive fuel part of the trip back!! Again thanks Tim for linking me in…

    Sanders in Rome

  18. Bob Black says:

    Great piece of work. I joined Pan Am as a sales trainee in sept 55 and my first flight was on a Stratocruiser IDLLHR Feb 56. Had a berth for long overnight flight then hot breakfast over Ireland in the lower lounge. High living indeed. No airline today can match Pan Am’s firstclass service we had on all of our equipment. Bob in ABQ

  19. Bob Black says:

    Not understanding comment needs moderation. Bob

  20. George Fields says:

    I joined Pan Am 1961 as a cargo sales rep. trainee in New York was transferred to Denver as a combo pax and cargo SR. Then to Washington, DC then to Charlotte,NC as an Area Representative then to Miami as Passenger Sales Mgr. Then to Cincinnati as Manager of the sales office for southern Ohio, Kentucky and a bit of West Virginia. Then to the Pan Am building as Manager of World Wide Martketing Services. Spent several years at both the Pan Am building and Kennedy in various cargo sales positions ending up as Director Cargo Sales.

  21. Betsey Sanpere says:


    There were three M-130’s constructed at the Glenn L. Martin factory and a larger one that some think was in the Russia til the 1970’s. Pan Am originally planned to fly these three aircraft across the North Atlantic but could not get landing rights in England. So, after the late 1930’s: What happened to the three M-130’s (Phillipine Clipper, Hawaiian Clipper China Clipper): one crashed north of San Francisco and people still are finding parts; a second one disappeared over the Pacific and some thought that the Japanese shot it down (during the war) for the design as exact parts showed up on their aircraft very soon after. The China Clipper flew over 15,000 hours for the U.S. Navy and flew to the Belgian Congo to pick up the uranium for the first atomic bomb. It had a hard landing off of Trinidad and was not recovered. I understand you can “dive” it. After the three Martin flying boats, later flying boats were built by Boeing and maybe other companies. But not Glenn L Martin. I have a picture of a flying boat taken in Miami in 1938 that says Pan American Airways System. I know the date as it’s my Mother in the hangar, on steps with a friend and she wrote on the back.

  22. Betsey Sanpere says:

    I may be wrong on the names; China Clipper is a for certain. Please correct if I am but the history of the three M-130’s is correct.

  23. Romel Dela Cruz says:

    Enjoyable and informative article. As a 9 year old boy I traveled by air on November 1954 for the first time in my life on Pan Am with my mother to reunite with my father who was a sugar worker in Hawaii. I recall departing at night in Manila with stopovers in Guam, Wake, Midway (not absolutely sure of the places) and finally arriving in Honolulu two mornings later.Can someone provide information about the aircraft that we flew in and the scheduling of flights at the time. The accommodation on our flight was not as luxurious as described about the clippers but must have adequate since as a first time flyer I did not suffer any ill effects.

  24. Noelle Ayres Banser says:

    Thanks Louie…you brought back many wonderful memories! Both traveling on Pan Am while growing up and then working for them, first in MNL and then SFO!

  25. mlq3 says:

    Lou, there is is an account in FB Harrison’s diary of the arrival of the first Clipper flight:

    “Arrival at 3:30 p.m. of the China Clipper –the first commercial airplane on the United States-China service. Like a great silver bird. Tremendous excitement –women rather hysterical. Perfect landing of the big plane in the harbor. Simultaneous arrival of the French Admiral on his ship. Everyone mistook the salutes for the Admiral as being a tribute to the plane!”

  26. Jack B Ritter says:


  27. Juan Ramos says:

    Hi Lou. Thank you for starting Manila Nostalgia. As many have said, you have provided us access to a beloved Manila that otherwise only exists in our memories. My name is Juan Ignacio Ramos. I am an alumnus of IS (’83) and a friend of Vicky Sycip Herrera and Isidra Reyes. As owner of The Clipper Hotel ( and La Casita Mercedes (, two low-key inns created to celebrate Manila’s past, I would like to ask your permission if I could print out copies of your article The Pan Am Clipper Arrives in Manila for our guests to read in their rooms. Naturally, I will acknowledge your copyright and not use it for any other purpose. I will understand if you decline, but I enjoy your stories and I am certain visitors to the Philippines who stay with us will too. Please also consider this an open invitation to stay with us for a few days, gratis, should you decide to visit Manila again.
    Mabuhay at Salamat,

  28. lougopal says:

    Hi Juan, thanks for writing. Of course you may reprint the article at your pleasure. I’d love to visit your restaurant one of these days. I may be coming to Manila in 2020 for the 100th anniversary of ISM/AS.

  29. Robert Clarkin says:

    Hello Lou. Here I am again, glued to your website. My mother, my sister and I were on the first Pan Am flight to Manila after the war. My mother was the first civilian woman on all of the stops and we were treated like royalty. On the flight out of Honolulu we had an engine problem and the pilot said we could go on to Midway and it would take a week or more to get the problem fixed or we could return to Honolulu and be ready in three days. We went back to Honolulu. Your research is priceless!

  30. Juan ignacio Ramos says:

    Salamat at Mabuhay Lou! Looking forward to meeting you!

  31. Dear Lou:

    Thanks for sharing the Memories of the Martin-130 China Clipper. I was honored to work for Pan Am for a short period in 1981 at DCA in Washington. That year 1981 was the beginning of the end and a decade later the Greatest Airline in History had Passed.
    I was fortunate to have been able to Fly Non-Rev on the 747 from Miami RT to LA. My 2 year old son accompanied us so we were able to be Seated in Clipper Business Class
    just behind First Class. When I was there Pan American World Airways still had all of it’s Worldwide Routes, PAN AM Building, and Intercontinental Hotel Chain. In 2001 I attended the 10 Year Pan Am Reunion in Baltimore. A Field Trip to the Martin Aviation Museum in in Middle River where the China Clipper was built was offered to the Reunion Attendees… There are still Two Glenn L. Martin JRM-1 Flying Boats – Martin Mars – that exist today on Sproat Lake BC, Canada. We are hopeful that someday the Philippine Mars JRM-1 can be Returned Back Home to the Martin Aviation Museum where she was Built 1945. See this Link to Watch Her Float and Fly:

    Best, Robert

  32. Martin Meadows says:

    Lou, I was in the process of compiling my recollections of pre-WWII life in Manila, and when it came to the arrival of the first trans-Pacific Pan-Am “flying boat,” i happened to come upon your great article on the subject. As usual, it was EXTREMELY interesting and informative, and it helped jog my memories of that day. I was three weeks short of my fifth birthday, but I recall the day in detail. Somehow, I don’t know how, my parents and I were able to secure “front row” spots despite the huge crowd and thus had unobstructed views of the landing of the Clipper. Thanks for your terrific work on all of your accounts of pre-war Manila. Best, Martin Meadows

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