79 years ago today, history was in the making as Pan American’s China Clipper set off from Alameda Airport on its inaugural transpacific airmail service flight to the Philippine Islands.
On November 22, 1935, 20,000 spectators including hundreds of schoolchildren cheered as the 25-ton Clipper taxied from its anchorage and lifted off gracefully from the water. Loaded with almost two tons of first class and official mail, the majestic China Clipper dipped under the San Francisco Bay Bridge cables and thundered westward on it’s 7,982 mile voyage to the Phillipines. Piloted by Pan American’s No. 1 pilot, Edward Musik, the trailblazing trip went from Alameda to Honolulu to Midway and Wake Islands, on to Guam then Manila. Flying at top speeds of 179 miles per hour, the silver winged sky queen was the biggest airship built at the time. Cutting the distance between the West Coast and the Orient from three weeks to three days, the China Clipper blazed a trail in international relations and charted a new course in aviation history.