In this episode we are joined by a very special guest: Pan Am Captain Dave Bridges, Centenarian. He celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year and he just might be one of the oldest people to ever be on a podcast!
A 37-year Pan Am veteran, Captain Bridges joined the company in 1943 and retired in 1981. He began as a relief co-pilot on the Boeing 314 flying boat during World War II, and after the war he flew a variety of land-based aircraft including the Douglas DC-3, DC-4, DC-7c, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, the Boeing 707, and the Boeing 747.
He currently lives outside of San Francisco, California and enjoys spending time with his family.
Special thanks to Museum Curator John Luetich, Admiral Bill Studeman, Board Member Matt Eberhart, and Museum Board Chair Linda Freire for their help on this interview. Also, thank you to donors on Facebook that made this interview possible!
Shortly after the conclusion of World War II in 1945, Pan Am made a film to mark the airline's contributions and sacrifices during the war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTzpFX2BPPI
In 1950, Pan Am made a promotional film to promote the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v92U2F9gbUo
In the interview, Captain Bridges mentions an “old timer” that served as a mentor to the younger pilots. His name was Pan Am Captain John H. “Jack” Tilton.
Tilton joined Pan Am in 1929 and would later go on to be Chief Pilot of the Pacific Division succeeding the late Captain Edwin C. Musik. In 1941, after the promotion and transfer of John C. Leslie to be Division Manager of the Atlantic, Captain Tilton was promoted to Operations Manager of the Pacific Division.
After a distinguished 24 year career with Pan Am, Captain Jack Tilton retired in 1953 with 22,000 flying hours. He was the first pilot of the Pacific Division to retire.
Here is a 1948 article from the “Clipper” employee newspaper about Captain Tilton:
A special thanks to the University of Miami, Richter Library Special Collections for digitizing this publication and making it available to the public.
The mission of the Pan Am Museum Foundation is “to educate, celebrate,and inspire present and future generations by preserving historical and diverse personal stories of Pan American World Airways.”
Pan Am was a pioneer in air travel and still stands as one of the most iconic and innovative airlines in aviation history.
That legacy lives on at the Pan Am Museum in Garden City, New York, where you can explore the rich history of the aircrafts and individuals at the heart of the company known as The World’s Most Experienced Airline.
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