In the fall of 1955, Pan American,Airways set the stage for the Jet Air Age by being the first U. S. airline to order a fleet of jets-44 in all. The first U. S.-built Jet Airliners were placed in service by Pan American October 26, 1958, although the prototype had been flying in tests and training flights for well over 2 years.
The planes are designed to cruise 575 miles an hour at 30,000 feet, or some 200 miles an hour more than the DC-7C’s, the previous top performer in Pan Am’s international fleet. With favorable winds, they can reach ground speeds well above that figure.
The Boeing Stratoliner 707-121, first to be delivered, can carry from 90 to 165 passengers depending on the seating arrangement and space allotted to lounges, coatrooms and galleys. The larger (by over 25 tons) 707-321 Intercontinental can carry from 96 to 177 passengers. The Douglas DC-8’s can carry from 88 to 159 passengers. All have a range of more than 4,000 miles.
The new Jet Clippers greatly reduce scheduled flight times throughout the world. For not only are they inherently much faster, but they operate with aids that minimize weather delays and permit seeking the most favorable wind conditions. Few cities of the world are more than a half day away from the U. S. by Pan Am Jet Clipper. The 707 Intercontinental could fly around the world in 40 hours flying time, needing only five stops for refueling. A 707 prototype set a passenger flight record of three hours and 48 minutes between Seattle and Baltimore-an average of 612 m.p.h., with ground speeds at times exceeding the speed of sound-658 m.p.h. at 31,000 feet. Jet Clippers set new transatlantic records during their first weeks of scheduled flights.
When they went into service, scheduled flying time from the United States to Paris (3,750 miles) dropped from 11 hours and 25 minutes to less than 7 hours, and other flights speeded up accordingly. Jet flying time from Chicago to London is only about 7 hours, 15 minutes; Tokyo to Seattle, 8 hours, 32 minutes; and New York to Buenos Aires, 11 hours, 15 minutes.