Pan Am Boeing 377: The posh airplane with beds in overhead compartments



(CNN) — The airplane speeds by the sky on its solution to London as you dine on tender beef and caviar.

Afterward, you make your solution to the decrease lounge to socialize with different passengers aboard the aircraft whereas sipping on a refreshing drink. Because the night winds down, you head as much as the principle cabin, climb into your overhead compartment mattress, and journey throughout the Atlantic Ocean safely tucked away below delicate sheets.

This sounds extra like a dream than actuality for most individuals who’ve flown.

Pan Am used the Stratocruiser for over a decade to transport passengers to international destinations.

Pan Am used the Stratocruiser for over a decade to move passengers to worldwide locations.

Courtesy Pan Am Museum Basis

However for others, it’s a distant reminiscence. Former Pan Am flight attendant Bronwen Roberts used to fly on the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser within the late Nineteen Fifties.

The plane was the epitome of luxurious, seating as much as 100 passengers for a trip within the skies. With a cruising velocity of simply over 300 miles per hour, it was an excellent aircraft for transatlantic flights within the Nineteen Fifties.

“I used to be so spoiled by flying these early years the place the service was simply so unimaginable,” Roberts mentioned.

This is a sample menu of what passengers were served aboard the 377 Stratocruiser.

It is a pattern menu of what passengers have been served aboard the 377 Stratocruiser.

Courtesy Pan Am Museum Basis

The extravagance started with the meals that was served on board. French restaurant Maxim’s de Paris catered in-flight eating and supplied quite a lot of upscale gadgets together with their well-known beef entrée.

“The planes had their very own ovens, and there was often a beef tenderloin cooked on board and sliced in entrance of you,” Pan Am Museum Basis historian John Luetich mentioned.

Flight attendants might additionally indulge within the European fare, which Roberts admitted she did very often. Whereas she sampled all the things from succulent lamb chops to pungent cheeses, one in every of her favorites was the caviar.

When passengers weren’t eating on French delicacies, they might head down a spiral staircase to the decrease deck lounge. Flight attendants served cocktails, Luetich mentioned, as individuals mingled with different flyers.

This model of flying may be very not like the flying of at the moment, the place passengers sometimes keep quiet and preserve to themselves. Within the lounge, nonetheless, flyers would chat and socialize, Roberts mentioned.

Guests chatted during their flight in the lower lounge, which seated 14 people.

Friends chatted throughout their flight within the decrease lounge, which seated 14 individuals.

Courtesy Pan Am Museum Basis

After the night meal, visitors might sleep the night away till they reached their vacation spot. One of many particular options of planes throughout this time was overhead beds. As a substitute of cramming baggage within the overhead compartments, passengers might pull down a mattress and drift off to sleep above the aircraft seats.

Roberts by no means had the chance to sleep in a single herself, however she was in a position to strive it out in between flights.

“I examined them after we’re on the bottom, and it was so spacious,” Roberts mentioned. “Even a tall man might stretch out, and it was very comfy.”

When the Stratocruiser was first launched in 1947, financial system class had not but been invented. As the concept of the financial system class grew in reputation, consolation and luxurious have been pushed apart in favor of extra seats and baggage storage.

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Pan Am decommissioned the Stratocruiser in 1961 to make means for brand new planes such because the Boeing 707 and 737. Roberts transitioned to work on these planes, the place she was a flight attendant for well-known individuals reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn and Winston Churchill.

The 377 Stratocruiser had spacious accomodations for every passenger.

The 377 Stratocruiser had spacious accomodations for each passenger.

Courtesy Pan Am Museum Basis

The 377 Stratocruiser is not used at the moment, however its legacy as a luxurious aircraft lives on. The Pan Am Museum Basis has an exhibit in regards to the aircraft in New York Metropolis stuffed with footage and memorabilia.

A lot has modified about flying at the moment, Roberts mentioned, which she describes as an evening and day expertise. Caviar has been traded out for stale pretzel packets and beef tenderloin has been switched to lukewarm microwave meals.

Whereas she misses flying on planes such because the 377 Stratocruiser throughout the Nineteen Fifties, Roberts is grateful to have skilled what she did.

“That was a beautiful time to fly,” Roberts mentioned. “It is like a beautiful reminiscence.”



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