Nostalgia flight -- 50's stewardesses and refueling in Gander

By MURRAY J. BROWN, UPI Travel Editor

PARIS -- Pan American World Airways recreated a 1950s-style flight across the Atlantic Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the first daily jet service between New York and Paris by an American airline.

To make the flight as authentic as possible, Pan Am stewardesses wore 1950s-style uniforms and the evening meal was made up of dishes from the 1958 menu of Maxim's restaurant in Paris.


The plane, a Boeing 707 just like the one used on Pan Am's inaugural New York-Paris jet flight Oct. 26, was jammed with invited guests including 1950s celebrities such as boxing champion Floyd Patterson, entertainers Eartha Kitt, Maureen O'Hara and Marcel Marceau and former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Also among the 84 guests were some of the passengers and crewmembers who made the original flight.

The four-engine plane left New York 20 minutes late and made a refueling stop at Gander, Newfoundland.

The 1958 flight also left 20 minutes late from what was then called Idlewild Airport because of departure ceremonies. It had to stop for fuel in Newfoundland because jets in those days did not have the range to fly from New York to Paris non-stop.


Also like the original, the anniversary flight landed at Le Bourget airport north of Paris instead of the French capital's more modern facilities at Orly and Roissy-Charles De Gaule.

The 1958 flight was not only the start of Pan Am's daily trans-Atlantic jet service. It also was the first commercial flight by an American-built passenger jet and with a flying time of 8 hours and 40 minutes, cut about three hours off the time of non-jet airliners.

Pan Am ran special ads to track down some of the original passengers for the anniversary flight.

Among them was Karl Johanson of Valhalla, N.Y., who was a 17-year-old high school senior then and is now 42 and a prominent New York surgeon.

Another of the original passengers, was Mrs. Samuel Conly of Greenwich, Conn., who described herself as '80 years young.' She made the original flight with her husband but is now widowed.

In all, nine of the inaugural passengers and seven of the crew were aboard the anniversary flight, including pilot Sam Miller and co-pilot Waldo Lynch.

First-class passengers on the original flight paid $909 round trip. Economy seats cost $489.60. Current fares round trip are $1,711 for first class and $560 for economy.


The anniversary plane landed at Le Bourget at precisely 9:01 a.m., the same time as the original flight. After a brass band welcome, guests were driven to their hotels in a convoy of vintage French automobiles.

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