Pan Am-iversary
April 5, 2021 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Looking for help with my parent's 50th Anniversary gift. They met when they were seated next to each other on the first Pan Am 747 flight from the mainland to Hawaii.

My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this May. It isn't normally a big deal beyond going out for dinner, but 50 is a milestone so my wife and I want to get them something. Since they are the kind of parents for whom it is impossible to buy anything practical, when you eliminate the practical only the fun remains. Since they have such a great origin story, we'd like to get them something about the trip where they met.

My dad was headed to Japan for business. My mom was starting graduate school at the University of Hawaii. They met when they were seated next to each other on the plane, and married a year later. Google tells me that their flight was on March 3rd, 1970.

So far, we have a model of a 747 in Pan Am colors (this), but Pan Am named their 747s and I don't know if that is the right name (really that would be quite the coincidence).

Other than that, I'm wondering if I can find what their tickets would have looked like and make up some fake ones?

So I'm going to throw it wide open for your ideas. They would be annoyed if I spend more than $100, but they only have one 50th anniversary and what they don't know won't hurt them. Custom stuff is ok if it can be here in a month. Thanks all, you rock!
posted by BeeDo to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What a delightful idea!

I just found this site that may be of use - The Virtual Pan Am Museum. And confirming they have a page about the tickets from different eras, as well as a whole assortment of other memorabilia and accoutrements. I also wonder if the site maintainer would know how to help you track other stuff down.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Are you aware of the Pan Am Experience?

While they're currently closed for the pandemic, they may be able to help to find artifacts or reproduced things like tickets (this all started as a Hollywood prop/set). Or maybe you can gift them a visit once they reopen. 1971 is totally their thing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 AM on April 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh - the Pan Am site has a whole section on how Pan Am did a redesign in 1970, complete with samples of the new branding and brochures - including one for Pan Am flights to Hawaii.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on April 5, 2021

More of an inspiration than a suggestion: this wedding invitation printed like a Pan Am boarding card with a letterpress printer is really nice.
posted by oranger at 7:54 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

You can get actual vintage items (like hand soap and toiletry bags) from that era on eBay.
posted by xo at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

A local bar did a pop up event centered around Pan-Am Layover Lounges a few years back. You might take a look at the pictures to get some inspiration.
posted by mmascolino at 8:33 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

This museum has a lot of Pan Am stuff, like luggage tags and Carry on bags. I have the luggage tags for my suitcases and they are super cute.
posted by pangolin party at 8:36 AM on April 5, 2021

Best answer: Pan Am coffee mug, luggage tag, and pins available for purchase here. (They have a lot of neat travel stuff and are prompt with shipping.)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2021

Probably a bit more than 100 bucks, but if you can find the menu that was served on that flight, hiring a private chef to recreate it for dinner might be cool (covid social distancing applying, of course). Probably something you could do yourself if you're a good cook.
posted by mikesch at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2021 [1 favorite] lets you mock up airline related merch in many liveries.
posted by firstdrop at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2021

Best answer: Researching the plane's name turns out to be more difficult than anticipated. WIth a bit of persistent digging I was able to find the flight's date: March 3rd, 1970. It was originally planned for March 1st, but was delayed (haven't found the reason). I've seen references that claimed it was in February 1970, but HNL and Hawaii Aviation said it's March 1970, so I dunno.

All the info I can find was from United, which made its first flight in June 1970. There's record for that because United made a big ceremony about retiring the 747. That 747 was named "Friend Ship"
posted by kschang at 12:10 PM on April 5, 2021

Best idea I have so far is have someone dress similar to that of a Pan Am stewardess?
posted by kschang at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2021

Traveler's Company is a Japanese brand that makes "traveler's notebooks", a leather cover the size of a boarding pass for one or more notebooks you can replace or reorganize as you fill them. See this explainer at JetPens for a longer explanation.

They had a Pan Am collaboration back in the day and you can still find their goods (stickers, notebooks, totes, washi tape) at Etsy.
posted by sukeban at 12:31 PM on April 5, 2021

That is such a cool story! I'm dying to know what happened after they deplaned, how did they stay connected and start dating?

I've always been enchanted by vintage travel posters and Pan Am has some great ones for Hawaii, even though the ones I could find during a quick Google search are mostly of the wrong vintage (1940s, reference the Clipper instead of the 747, etc.) but there may be more I didn't see. As an extremely pragmatic giftee myself, a gorgeously framed print referencing a flight like the one we took would hit all the right notes even if the details weren't completely precise.
posted by anderjen at 1:02 PM on April 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: When I was at the Museum of Flight in Seattle there was a good deal of really cool Pan Am memorabilia - the bags in particular were really nice.

I can't be sure they're the same ones I saw, but these look similar and they're pretty cool - plus many are around that theoretical budget.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:13 PM on April 5, 2021

Please, please play Tom Paxton's "I Lost My Heart On a 747"
posted by Performing Without Annette at 6:10 PM on April 5, 2021

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