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First Transatlantic Passenger Service 1939 (Clipper)

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Posted 07/08/2017   5:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add blcjr to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Received this today:



The June 28 flight on the southern route is very well documented. I'm trying to document the return flight on the northern route. Transatlantic service on the northern route from NYC to Southhampton began July 8. This is supposed to have been on the first flight from Southhampton to NYC. It is backstamped, as shown below, July 14:



Is there any documentation for when the return flight left Southhampton? July 8 to July 14 is six days. A couple of days (at least) before flying back, and a day or so arriving in NY to get to Brooklyn? Plus time across the Atlantic. Seems about right.

I am curious, and absolutely clueless, about the dark blob on the right of the back cover.

Basil
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Posted 07/08/2017   9:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is was meant to be a round trip cover on the inauguration of Foreign Air Mail number 18 (FAM-18) but it apparently missed the return leg of the first flight. There is a photo of a correct round trip cover of this cover on page 194 of Volume 3 of the sixth edition of the American Air Mail Catalog. The dates should be: New York - JUN 24, 1939; London - JUN 29, 1939; and, the receiving back stamp should be New York, JUL 1, 1939. Also, it should have the large blue rubber stamped first flight cachet, type F18e, with the clipper in flight over the two cities and appropriate wording. I am not sure how many round trip covers were flown, but the numbers for the New York to Southampton leg was huge at 67,080 pieces, and the return flight was also very large at 27,954 pieces. There was no British cachet applied to either one way return or round trip covers as the British government had an odd policy not to provide cachets.

This appears to be a one-way first flight from New York to Southampton but for some reason it missed being put on the return leg back to New York. Several days later it was likely returned to New York on a non-first flight.

As for the black blob on the back it appears to have been a circular receiving cancel the same size as the other cancel from Brooklin. As to why it is all smudged I do no know though perhaps the smudging was done on purpose for some reason.
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Edited by Kimo - 07/08/2017 9:31 pm
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Posted 07/09/2017   09:16 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Kimo,

I don't think the AAMC is of any help here. This is not a cover representing the inauguration of mail service. Were that the case, the outbound fight would have been on May 20,1939 (Southern route) not June 24, 1939 (Northern route). It is a cover representing the inauguration of passenger service by the Dixie Clipper across the Atlantic (and back on the Yankee Clipper). Here's one description of it:

Quote:
After a well-publicized dedication ceremony, attended by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, on March 26, 1939, the Pan American B-314 Yankee Clipper made its first trial flight across the mid-Atlantic, from Baltimore, Maryland, all the way to Foynes in Ireland. The airline began regular mail services with the B-314 in May 1939; scheduled flight time was about 29 hours. With increased confidence in its new plane, Pan American finally inaugurated the world's first transatlantic passenger service on June 28, 1939, between New York and Marseilles, France, and on July 8 between New York and Southampton. Passengers paid $375 for a one-way trip across the ocean.

Source: http://www.century-of-flight.net/ne...Services.htm
Another source: http://www.clipperflyingboats.com/t...line-service

So it has the correct cancellation for the start of the trip. And it made its way to the original addressee in Sutton Coldfield, England, where it was posted for return to Brooklyn on July 3. That's about all that can be said from the postmarks. I assume that the marking "Hold for Yankee Clipper in Southhampton" is original, and was meant to catch the return of the first passenger flight over the northern route. That's the flight left NYC on July 8 but I have not found any source documenting when the flight arrived in Southhampton or when it departed for return to NYC carrying this cover. That's what I'd like to pin down, if I can.

Again, because it relates to passenger service, and not to the "first flights" associated with mail service on FAM-18, I'm not sure how the AAMC helps here.

Basil
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Posted 07/09/2017   11:08 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add j_rogers to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I believe that your cover was intended to be carried on the flights indicated, but the timing did not work out and it missed the return Yankee Clipper flight by a few minutes.

According to the "Pan American Airways 1939-1944 Atlantic Wartime Operations Catalog" by David Crotty, your cover did make the inaugural passenger-carrying Dixie Clipper flight. It departed New York on 6/28/39 at 1557 and arrived in Southampton on 6/30/39 at 1321. The Yankee Clipper, carrying passengers on the southern route departed Southampton on the same date at 1407, so there was insufficient time to make the connection.

However, it was held as directed, for the next flight of the Yankee Clipper that departed Southampton on 7/12/39 and arrived on 7/14/39 as indicated by your backstamp.

The return Dixie Clipper flight, carrying inaugural passengers on the northern route, departed Southampton on 7/2/39 and arrived in New York on 7/4/39.

Your cover has a wonderful story to tell.
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Posted 07/09/2017   4:00 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
j_rodgers

It looks like you have the "gold mine" I've been looking for -- the book by David Crotty. But some of your response confuses me. I'll explain why, and then ask for help that might further clarify. Your account is almost exactly opposite of what I've thought occurred. It appears to me that you are saying that the June 28 flight was aboard the Yankee Clipper and took the Northern route -- to Southhampton, and that the return flight was aboard the Dixie Clipper via the Southern route. That is certainly opposite what is noted on the cover itself: the cover indicates it took the Southern route to Marseilles aboard the Dixie Clipper, and returned on the Northern route via the Northern route aboard the Yankee Clipper. Do you see my confusion?

So, when you say "arrived in Southampton on 6/30/39 at 1321" shouldn't that be "arrived in Marseilles on 6/30/39?"

And when you say "The Yankee Clipper, carrying passengers on the southern route departed Southampton on the same date at 1407" I don't see how that is possible since passenger service to and from Southhampton (terminus of the Northern route) didn't begin until July 8 (from NYC) and only after that could a return from Southhampton with passengers have occurred.

So, I'd like to "see with my own eyes" what you are referring to in the Crotty book. We can do that one of two ways, I think. If you could scan and post the relevant sections in images here, that would be one way. If that is not possible, if you could tell me the relevant page numbers I can contact the APRL and ask them to scan them and send them to me.

Thanks either way. It sounds like the Crotty book should be able to clear this up.

Basil
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Posted 07/09/2017   4:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To clarify further, I've been looking for decent maps of the two routes, and these are as good as I've found so far. First, the Southern route:



Just to be clear, originally the terminus was Marseilles, France. But it was cut back to Lisbon when Spain disallowed flying over it later that year. Now for the Northern route:



So what I am looking for would be the first flight from Southampton to NY after July 8 by the Yankee Clipper.

Basil
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Posted 07/09/2017   7:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add j_rogers to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Basil,

You are correct. I was paying attention to the dates and times and messed up on the destination airport code for the southern route.

In my note taking, I also extracted data from two tables and combined them as one on the return flight.

However, the book does show that the Yankee clipper first carried passengers on 6/24/39 between NY and Southampton and again on the return flight on 6/30/39.

Here are some scans that will hopefully clarify things.
Sorry for the confusion.








Airport Codes:
Southern Route:
BMR – Baltimore MD
PTW – Port Washington, NY
HTA – Horta, Azores
LBN – Lisbon, Portugal
MRS I assume is Marseille, France, since it is not listed in the table of codes.

Northern Route:
SOU – I assume is Southampton
FOY – Foynes, Ireland
BTD – Botwood, Newfoundland
SHE – Shediac, New Brunswick
PTW – Port Washington, NY
BMR – Baltimore MD




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Posted 07/09/2017   8:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great stuff. I think you have documented the two flights this cover took. But was there a "Route 3" trip between the "N-2" flight on 6/30 and the "N-4" flight on 7/12? I.e., a "N-3" perhaps before or after July 8?

It is indeed odd that the record shows passengers being flown east across the Atlantic before the flights west that are documented as the "first" transatlantic passenger flights. I wonder what the story is on that?

This cover will make into an exhibit and I want to provide as much factual detail as possible. I'd especially want to "correct" the record if something is off here, either in the Crotty data, or in the fact that their were transatlantic passenger flights earlier than commonly reported.

Basil
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Posted 07/09/2017   10:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add j_rogers to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Ah, the next outbound flight from NY was the N-3 flight. It departed NY on 7/8/39 and arrived in Southampton on 7/9/39. There were no passengers documented on that flight. I didn't mention it before since it was not tied to your cover. However, I see your interest since it definitely conflicts with the article that you referenced earlier.

There is a discrepancy in the record that warrants further research!

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Posted 07/09/2017   11:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is great information and I had not seen the Crotty book before.

There was also at the same time some competitive pressure on Pan Am from American Export Airlines. This is listed in the AAMC as Transoceanic Flight 1326 and it flew on June 30 from Brooklyn, New York via Botwood and Shannon to Marseille, France on July 5. They initially used a Consolidated PBY-4 flying boat but the next year upgraded to the big Vought-Sikorsky VS-44 flying boats that could carry 40 passengers.
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Posted 07/09/2017   11:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add j_rogers to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The Crotty book was published almost four years ago. There was an article in the February 17, 2014 issue of Linn's Stamp News that made me aware of its existence. In that review, Ken Lawrence used the book to identify the probably flights of two covers. I highly recommend the catalog for those interested in this period of airmail history. Given the outbreak of World War 2 and associated secrecy of some of the flights, some of the records have disappeared, but it is a great resource to start with.
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Edited by j_rogers - 07/09/2017 11:34 pm
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Posted 07/10/2017   06:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If N-3 departed Southhampton on 7/8, then it was not the "return" flight of the 7/8 flight from NYC that was reportedly the first transatlantic passenger flight on the Northern route. This apparently confirms that the cover is what it purports to be. The only issue remains the references in Crotty to passengers being carried on N-1 and N-2. I think those must surely be mistakes as the claim that N-1 carried passengers would conflict with the well attested "first passenger flight" of the Dixie Clipper on the Southern route on 6-28. Crotty's "data" also conflicts with this July 1939 Pan Am time-table, which has "mail only" for the Northern route at the time:



Still, the Crotty book looks like an essential reference I'm going to want before too long.

Thanks.

Basil
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Posted 07/10/2017   08:21 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The mystery deepens, or ... boy is history all messed up.

So, I finally found a source (supposedly) on the first passenger flight from England:



But the story told here is very confusing. A "30 June 1939" flight taking off from Foynes would agree with Crotty "N-2" flight record. However, this statement does not seem right:

Quote:
The aircraft had arrived at Foynes early that morning,
carrying the first passengers and mail to cross the Atlantic from America.

The statement is certainly wrong on the "first ... mail to cross the Atlantic from America." FAM 18-1, from NY to Lisbon, arrived in Lisbon on May 20-21, over a month earlier. The first mail on the northern route FAM 18-10, did arrive in Foynes, but on June 27-28 (this would be Crotty's "N-1"). I believe it to be wrong on the "first passenger..." claim also. From the Crotty chronicles the only plane arriving "at Foynes early that morning" was not "from America" but was the "N-2" flight originating from Southhampton earlier that morning.

Otherwise, I am having trouble finding any other information about Juan Trippe flying on a "first passenger" flight out of Foynes, and that seems to me to be something that would have "made the news." I also have not found any verification of the "American news network ... broadcasting crew."

Still (re)searching.

Basil
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Edited by blcjr - 07/10/2017 08:22 am
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Posted 07/10/2017   09:19 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think I am getting somewhere, reviewing arriving passenger manifests for the flights in question. More shortly. But I think I can make some sense of the book excerpt I just posted. The reference to Juan Trippe and Walton Moore is for a flight in which they arrived from the US. The reference to John Cuddihy is to a passenger that boarded "N-2" in "FOY." The data I am reviewing would seem to validate Crotty that passengers were carried on N-2, so that transatlantic passenger flight on the Northern route from Southhampton began before transatlantic passenger flight from NY on July 8.
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Posted 07/10/2017   10:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What a puzzle, but I think I have it straightened out, and it does put a different perspective on "first transatlantic passenger" service in 1939. My cover is, I'm persuaded, partly what it purports to be. Using Crotty designation, it left NY on 6-28 aboard the Dixie Clipper on the Southern route with the first transatlantic passenger service, Crotty "Trip 11." It reached its destination, eventually, in Sutton Coldfield, England, where it was remailed July 3, with instructions to be held in Southhampton for the next Yankee Clipper flight. That was the Crotty "N-3" flight from NY on 7-8-39, widely recorded as the first transatlantic passenger flight on the Northern route. But that is not exactly the case; it was the first transatlantic passenger flight from the US to England. But it was preceded as a "first transatlantic passenger flight on the Northern route" by Crotty N-2, from Southhampton to NY, departing 6/30 from Southhampton and arriving in NY on 7/1.

Here are images from the passenger manifest for Crotty N-2:





My cover was not on that flight, so the "Returned via: YANKEE CLIPPER / FIRST PASSENGER / FLIGHT FROM ENGLAND, / TO NEW YORK, OVER THE / NORTHERN ROUTE" is incorrect. My cover was flown on the return flight of the Yankee Clipper that carried the first passengers from NY to Southampton, July 8-9 (Crotty N-3). Here are the manifest data for that return flight, Crotty N-4:




I think that is the complete story of my cover. And in the process of documenting it, I discovered that the first transatlantic passenger service on the Northern route was not the July 8 flight from NY as often reported, but the 6/30 flight from Southhampton to NY. So the book excerpt above is substantially correct, except for possible correction about when the flight with Juan Trippe arrived. The database of flight manifests I'm researching shows that Trippe arrived back in NY on July 4 via a Dixie Clipper return flight from Marseilles.* If he flew over on the Yankee Clipper, it would have to have been N-1. I think the "discrepancy" over passengers being carried on N-1 and N-3 getting credit for being the first transatlantic passenger service flight is that the latter was the first flight for paying passengers. Juan Trippe, his wife, and 18 other "VIP's" (according to the "20" passengers recorded by Crotty) were not paying passengers, so this flight doesn't get billed as the first transatlantic passenger flight on the Northern route like the July 8 flight does.

I think that reconciles everything, and validates Crotty's data showing passengers carried before the July 8 flight.

*j_rodgers, I think this would be Crotty "Trip 12." If not asking too much, could you scan the data for "Trip 12" and "N-3" and add it to this thread? I think that would complete the picture.

Basil
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Posted 07/10/2017   10:59 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mml1942 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Basil,

Marvelous research.

Are these Pan Am passenger lists on-line, or have you been digging in the microfilm archives somewhere?
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