The Jet Age and Pan Am

The 1950s saw the world’s first commercial aircraft to be powered by jet engines. This was the start of the Jet Age. It was only until the late 1960s that turbine-powered aircraft became a common sight, this was because Boeing, one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers at that time and still today, introduced the Boeing 707 in 1958. Airlines immediately started purchasing jet engine aircraft and it became an instant craze to travel on one of these modern jetliners. Also in 1958 a popular American singer, Frank Sinatra made a song about air travel called ‘Come Fly With Me. This title has been very frequent in television series regarding the height of air travel. 

How it all started-

The term ‘Jet Age’ originated in the late 1940s, after World War II. At this time there were no known jet commercial airliners produced yet. The only aircraft that was powered by turbine engines were military aircraft. In 1958, as mentioned earlier, the most popular aircraft manufacturer at that time launched the Boeing 707. This design could carry up to 189 passengers and crew. A year later, McDonnell Douglas, another aircraft manufacturer, produced the 707’s competitor, the DC-8. The designs were fairly similar, both would hold four jet engines, with a large rudder and a shiny, aluminum body. There were large orders placed for both of these as they were considered revolutionary. 865 Boeing 707s were built and distributed whereas the DC-8 was less successful, it made around 600 orders. These two aircraft got people flying, getting to experience the luxury of a four jet-engined airliner. 

-The Jet Age and Pan Am

credit: Wikipedia

Pan American World Airways was arguably the most successful and famous airline during the peak of the Jet Age; it was a revolutionary airline. They created connections from the USA to the world, opening routes like Florida to Cuba, and played the main role in the world’s most popular route at that time, which was London to New York City. In just 1970, Pan American flew a total of 11 million passengers, nowadays, major airlines like United carry up to 60 million passengers a year, but 11 million was a lot of people in the 70s. Pan American became the number 1 go-to for people who wanted to travel to and from the United States, they prided themselves in delivering their luxury onboard product. When the world’s first two-story aircraft came, the Boeing 747, Pan Am became the first to operate that type. With the jet aircraft came the height of Pan Am’s world-famous service. The airline had comfortable and wide seats, a gourmet meal for every passenger, no matter how long the flight, always greeted with a smile from the stewardesses and an overall luxury experience. Celebrities would often fly Pan Am, like the Beatles and US President Roosevelt. Pan American was usually referred to as the United State’s unofficial flag carrier and the national airline. This put other airlines out of their league. 

-The Boeing 747-


The Jet Age started in the late 1940s, around 1949 after World War II ended. The only aircraft powered by proper jet engines were military aircraft. The first commercial jet aircraft was the Comet 1A, which was launched in 1952, this was not very popular and was only used by European airlines. The first flight of the Comet 1A was from London to Johannesburg operated by BOAC. As the Comet 1A was developed without much time it failed as it was grounded due to safety issues. This gave the American aviation industry a chance. America came up with the Boeing 707 and the Mcdonnell Douglas DC-8, over 800 707s were sold, and over 600 DC-8s were built and sold. The people at that time wanted to fly in luxury with the latest technology, and Pan American Airlines supplied this. On October 26th, 1958, Pan Am became the first American airline to fly the Boeing 707 from New York to Paris in 8 hours, this was revolutionary at that time. In 1970 Pan Am carried 11 million passengers alone. The Jet Age was a time that has changed how the world flies. 

sources: Wikipedia, Business insider youtube channel,

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