Looking for the Bright Side by Remembering History

By John Arcari

John Arcari
I suspect a number of you aviation maintenance industry folks might know that I spent just short of thirty years service working for Pan American World Airways, from 1958 to 1987. When I resigned from Pan Am, I went on to become the VP, Aircraft Maintenance for Tower Air, an American flag carrier serving international destinations and supporting military personnel movement operations, worldwide.
I hired on with Pan Am in 1958 as an aircraft cleaner to work through the busy summer time flying schedule, cleaning airplanes in the hangar at our JFK, NYC Airport, main aircraft maintenance base. At that time, Juan Terry Trippe, our chairman& CEO, was a aviation legend in his own time. When Labor Day came by in September, I was made a full time employee and in October, 1958, I was upgraded to full aircraft mechanic. And…so began my journey of many years with Pan Am that proved to be so educational and fruitful in my life!
Trippe was a dreamer, and in the early 1920s after serving in the Navy during WWI, Trippe began to get the urge to go into the airline business. He knew the finance business, but he just darned loved airplanes. He got some of his Navy buddies and college pals to dig up some cash to invest in a Trippe scheme to fly from Key West Florida to Havana, Cuba carrying American and Cuban mail and a passenger here and there. So, in October of 1927, in a leased Fairchild FC-2,  Pan Am became alive and a real operating airline. On October 29, 1927 a Pan Am owned Fokker V11 Tri Motor made the return flight to the USA.
Now at that time the roaring twenties were still roaring, but the storm clouds of a massive destructive depression was on the way, worldwide, quite similar to our depressed situation today, with such hardship and fear for millions of folks here in the USA and around the entire world. The health crisis has heavily impacted our beloved airline industry. 

However, none of those negative circumstances stopped or derailed the “Trippe Dream” of having a worldwide airline system. So, before  Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh  jumped off on his historic non-stop flight from Long Island, New York to Paris, France, Trippe made certain he stumbled into “Lindy” on Long Island. He convinced Lindbergh to join Pan Am after his historical, non-stop  jaunt across the sea! Lucky Lindy and his wife Anne, whom Lindbergh taught to fly, worked as a team flying through thick and thin. Charles and Anne did pioneer flight activity through the 1930s Great Depression across the world, including laying out safe routes to Alaska,  Siberia,  Japan and China. They also mapped route excursions in Latin, South America and the Caribbean. They to were both dreamers.

Then came the pilot of the century Captain Edwin Musick, an auto racer auto mechanic and the best Pilot in the world, in my opinion. Musick rose to become the chief pilot at Pan Am very quickly and flew and commanded many pioneer flights beginning in Florida/Cuba and extending around the world. Sadly the magnificent Musick was killed in a crash in the Pago Pago area of the South Pacific, near American Samoa. Musick was honored across the world. All of these capers were accomplished in the hardest of times in the USA and round the world, the 1930s era of the Great Depression. The world was in pain, but Trippe, Lindbergh, Music and many others like them in our beloved industry, stayed the course and birthed the airline industry that has changed this world a number of times, for the positive.

Just keep in mind my great band of aviation brothers and sisters in common…more positives were yet to come from the dreams and likes of Trippe and Lindbergh. the Boeing 314 Clipper, the Boeing Stratoliner, the Boeing 707 and the Boeing 747 might have never been developed, if not for the inputs of both Trippe & Lindbergh!

Folks in our industry and folks in many other industries are hurting at this time…but I believe the end is in sight and we will all come back stronger than before. The simple fact remains, this world of ours cannot truly reach its great destiny of positives without out airplanes bringing us together, whether it be for business, pleasure, travel, new ventures, movement of supplies and goods or visiting out own beloved families and friends.

We simply must band together, support each of us that makes up this magnificent airline puzzle, have faith in each other and our industry.We will be OK soon, just as Trippe, Lindbergh nd Musick were as the 1930s Depression came to an end. We shall return, stronger, better and more successful then we ever were! Have Faith, trust each other and trust in our Lord and trust in yourselves…and most important never stop dreaming. At eighty years young, I am not a naysayer, a doomsday fool and I have not stopped believing in our great destiny yet to come. I have not stopped trying, I never give up dreaming and I never will until my days have ended. We are coming back. big time…the world awaits!  I want to hear these words uttered and uttered over and over again.  “Captain, we have tower clearance for take-off…V1… rotate, landing gear up!”

Off we go – the glory of flight will soon return!

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