Part-time San Francisco resident Barnaby Conrad III, author of 11 books, debuts his newest title with neighborhood publisher Council Oaks Books this month, Pan Am: An Aviation Legend. Painstakingly compiled and richly illustrated with more than 240 color images, the book is described as a loving tribute to the iconic airline that changed the face of commercial aviation and became the greatest airline of the 20th century.
From its 1927 inception by Juan Terry Trippe, a Yale-educated pilot and entrepreneur who set out only to develop a single-engine plane Key West-to-Havana mail delivery empire, to its ascension with assistance of Charles Lindbergh to the greatest personnel aircraft in the world, Pan American World Airway’s story is told in great detail. As with all of Conrad’s work, this story is not only one about commercial aviation, it is also the story of America’s rise to world dominance.
In its first 40 years of operation, the airline devised every aspect of commercial air travel innovation — safety, performance, and fares for the mainstream traveler. Pan Am describes much of this and includes anecdotes such as the secret wartime mission Franklin Roosevelt made aboard a Pan Am Clipper. From its growth in ownership of these smaller planes to the amazing 747 model, Pan American changed the way people could travel to see the world.
Though Pan-American World Airways ceased operation in 1991, like the Orient Express and the Titanic, it is an icon that is long remembered for its innovation and service, as well as its blue globe logo. Invoking the golden age of air travel, Conrad’s book includes images of the Clipper aircraft, interior shots, and original promotional brochures, and generally archives the experience of what Clare Boothe Luce called in 1941 “the most romantic voyage in history.” In detailing Pan American World Airway’s history, the book captures an era.
A San Francisco native, as a journalist in Paris Conrad wrote for Pam-American’s Clipper Magazine. He has also written for many other well-known print venues, including the San Francisco Chronicle, and was founding editor of Art World and senior editor of Horizon Magazine.
Now living mostly on the East Coast but commuting and keeping a Marina place marker for literary pursuits, Conrad is active as senior editor at Inkshares, the new online book publishing company that was birthed recently in San Francisco.
Conrad’s other books include Absinthe: History in a Bottle, Ghost Hunting in Montana, The Martini, and The Cigar. All are available online and at your favorite independent bookstore, including Books Inc. in the Marina.