When the Vulcan Man Travelled…

From time to time, I mention the family business I used to be involved in: Vulcan Iron Works Inc., which was in my family (with one break) for 144 years.  We did a great deal of business outside of the U.S., especially for the offshore oil industry.  From about 1960 until the early 1980’s, offshore was booming and not just in the Gulf of Mexico.

Until Delta started its foray into international travel in the late 1970’s, and for some time afterwards, the airline of choice for “the Vulcan man” was Pan Am.  My three trips to China to do business there in 1981-3 were largely on Pan Am.  Our senior field service man, Jess Perry, just about wouldn’t fly anyone else overseas.

So it was with some fascination that I saw the Wall Street Journal’s piece on Anthony Toth’s replica of Pan Am’s first class cabin on the 747.If you want to see what overseas flying was like in the 1970’s and 1980’s on this airline, this is a unique opportunity to do so, and for me it brought back many memories.

2 Replies to “When the Vulcan Man Travelled…”

  1. I flew on a 747 the very first day they came into paid service, from SFO to Washington or New York, I forget which, in 1967 or so. I was surprised by the fact that the thing had no “new car smell,” no chemical solvents in the air nor scent of new paint. The whole overhead luggage assembly, running the length of our business-class cabin seemed to be only loosely held in place, and from its noise and shaking I wondered if some design error had slipped through.

    In earlier years, though, I had covered the US aerospace industry for CBC, so I knew a good deal about Boeing, and tremendously admired its founder, Bill Boeing. This meant the possibility of an interior design error didn’t give me a moment’s pause. Excellent, excellent, planes.

    In those days the price difference between coach and first class on a 707 from Washington to LA, which I flew fairly often, was $40. DC to Pittsburgh was $12 or $14, I think I remember. But then the Shah was still giving oil away nearly free…



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