Pan Am Historical Foundation's Installations at the Marine Air Terminal
British Pathé Newsreel "New Seaplane Base" recorded highlights of the MAT's inaugural events on Opening Day, March 31, 1940, including the flight of Pan Am's "Yankee Clipper".
Trouble viewing? Go to: https://youtu.be/bFXgVUaH2l0
Today, the highly-anticipated installation of a new Boeing B-314 Model and three new bronze plaques at the Marine Air Terminal (MAT), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens, New York City is nearly complete. Three plaques commissioned by the PAHF are permanent informational guides to provide a Pan Am history trail for visitors to follow. And integral to this public history project, a new, larger model of the iconic Boeing B-314 flying boat is taking the place of the smaller model that has long been suspended in the MAT rotunda.
Passengers wait by Pan Am counter in the Rotunda of the Marine Air Terminal circa 1940 (Photo PAHF Collection)
The New Boeing 314 Model
The outsized flying boat model is the creation of Atlantic Models of Miami, Florida. The company, founded by Roger Jarman, has a world-class reputation for presentation model projects, for clients such as Boeing and numerous airline customers. Their techniques run the gamut from intricate computer-controlled precision manufacturing techniques to the very painstaking hand work of master modelers. They are responsible for creating the new Clipper model as well as directing its installation. Their work already adorns another historic display at the restored TWA Terminal and Hotel at JFK.
The computer-controlled Kuka CNC machine at Atlantic Models (left) was used to create some of the components for the new Pan Am B-314 Model, seen from below (r). Photos courtesy of Atlantic Models.
Yankee Clipper Wing detail (left )and Pan Am B-314 viewed from above (r). Photos courtesy of Atlantic Models.
An older B-314 flying boat model, property of the Pan Am Historical Foundation, won’t be losing its pride of place either, as it will likely be loaned to the Pan Am Museum Foundation at the Crade of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY . Originally, Geoffrey Arend ("Air Cargo News") helped locate and hang that model, which has graced the MAT rotunda for many years. He was also responsible for saving many of the building’s original fixtures and furniture, as well as placing historic photos that have added an impressive historical dimension to the historic building.
The Marine Air Terminal: A Landmark Site
The MAT is on the National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the US National Park Service. As a result, any changes to the building have to comport with strict guidelines so the planning process has involved multiple entities, including the Pan Am Historical Foundation, LGA’S management team, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, along with assistance from knowledgeable consultants from the historic preservation field. But it’s now a done deal, only awaiting the arrival of the plaques and Yankee Clipper model to be installed.
In a recent communication to PAHF Chairman Ed Trippe, Anthony Vero, the current General Manager of LaGuardia said this:
LGA is deeply indebted to you and the Pan Am Historical Foundation for bringing this rich history to our landmark jewel, to inform and enlighten the wonderful people who use our airport.
Marking History: Three Historic Plaques for the Historic Venue
Three elegant bronze plaques, also gifts of the Pan Am Historical Foundation, will now adorn the MAT. The plaques will help visitors to more fully appreciate the historic venue, that opened for business on March 31, 1940 with great fanfare and speeches by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Pan Am President Juan Trippe, and other luminaries. The events were capped by the first international departure from the MAT, when Captain Charles Lorber took off for Europe in the B-314 Yankee Clipper.
Entrance Plaque: The Marine Air Terminal Building
A prominent plaque at the entrance of the building (which is still an active airline terminal) provides essential information about the Marine Air Terminal at New York Municipal Airport, now LaGuardia International: The date of dedication of the building by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Pan Am President Juan Trippe; the project architects Delano and Aldrich, and of course, a mention of Pan American Airways’ historic headquarters there until 1952.
Mural Plaque: "Flight" by James Brooks
An interior plaque provides details about the mural “Flight” by WPA artist James Brooks that encompasses the building’s rotunda. Brooks created a visual tour-de-force of humanity’s figurative ascent into the sky, starting with Icarus and Daedelus of Greek myth, moving on to Leonardo DaVinci’s conceptual flying machines, and then to Wright Brothers. The mural culminates with a dramatic representation of a then-contemporary Pan Am Clipper flying boat.
Brooks painted “Flight” over the course of many months, starting before the MAT was even finished. It was the largest mural ever painted on behalf of the federal WPA project. For reasons never fully explained, the mural was painted over in the 1950s. Again, thanks to the efforts of Geoffrey Arend (who was also a friend of the arist and who had long occupied an office in the building), Brooks’ masterpiece mural was rescued in 1980. Arend enlisted the assistance of prominent citizens to have the artwork uncovered and restored.
Pan Am "Yankee Clipper" Boeing B-314 Plaque
The Boeing B-314 is the subject of the third plaque to be installed at the MAT, in the entrance vestibule near the “Flight” plaque. The B-314 plaque is unique because it includes an iconic Pan Am photograph of the famous flying boat, the Yankee Clipper, christened by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The Yankee Clipper flew the first scheduled departure from the newly dedicated MAT out of Bowery Bay, on March 31, 1940.
It’s been many decades since the last B-314 flew, or any international air service via flying boat for that matter. This informative marker, like the others, shines light on that romantic, bygone era to help spark the curiosity of present generations and those visiting the MAT in the future.