During the spring of 1939 a number of countries were competing for the honor of
establishing the first regular air service across the Atlantic Ocean linking the new
world with the old. The US won this distinction when Pan American flew its "Yankee
Clipper" inaugurating the "Southern Route" air service on May 20, 1939. Pan Am flew from
New York via Horta, Azores and Lisbon, Portugal to Marseilles, France (FAM-18).
A few days before this flight, on May 16, 1939 a special 30-cent transatlantic
air mail stamp (C-24) was issued for use on Pan Am's first flight covers.
Mail from the US to points beyond Marseilles was dispatched by regular connecting
air service via Imperial Airways from Europe to Hong Kong. Pan Am then provided
air service across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, CA (FAM-14) and US transcontinental
domestic air service completed the round-the-world air routing of mail back to New York
William Van Dusen, as Pan Am's public relations chief, wrote glowing press releases
flaunting Pan Am's flight accomplishments. May 20, 1939 was the 12th anniversary of
Lindbergh's solo flight between NY and Paris. This date was celebrated at the New York
World's Fair, then in progress, with an elaborate "Aviation Day" program. Pan Am's "Yankee
Clipper" (Boeing B-314 flying boat) piloted by Captain Arthur E. LaPorte made the
US's first scheduled commercial transatlantic mail flight (Southern Route) and completed
the first leg of round-the-world mail routing on scheduled flights.
New York, NY Pan American Airways 05/20/39
Marseilles, France Imperial Airways 05/22/39
London, England Imperial Airways/KLM 05/26/39
Hong Kong Pan American Airways 06/07/39
San Francisco, CA US Domestic Carrier 06/12/39
New York, NY 06/13/39