Former Flight Attendant Remembers Pan Am’s First AJA “Stewardesses”

Betty S. Santoki
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

It was a party Juan Trippe’s employees at Pan American World Airways would never forget. “We are going around the world,” proclaimed Trippe, Pan Am’s founder, at the company’s Christmas party in December 1928. Trippe’s employees knew him to be an ambitious and visionary businessman, but fly around the world?! It was a big dream — and a dream they would help him realize with the help of a team of women of Japanese ancestry — Japanese Americans and Japan nationals.

In 1935, Pan Am’s “China Clipper” crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Four years later, she sailed the skies across the Atlantic. And then in 1947, just two years after the end of World War II, Juan Trippe’s dream came true. Pan Am’s first around-the-world trip saw the China Clipper touch down in 17 cities in 11 countries over a 13-day period. It was quite an adventure!

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