Aircraft of today and yesteryear: the Pan Am Clipper
This new stamp issue pays tribute to the Pan Am Clipper, the pioneer of transatlantic flights. OPT-NC is pleased to present a sheet of 10 stamps, each with a face value of XPF 260.
The design is by an outstanding woman artist.
This new issue was designed by Marie Détrée, the French Navy’s official painter. This is Détrée’s first collaboration with OPT-NC but she has already designed several stamp issues for mainland France, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, and Saint Pierre & Miquelon. Marie Détrée was appointed as the official painter of the French Navy in 2010: only five women have held this prestigious title, bestowed by the Minister of Defence.
A legendary aircraft
The Pan American Airways Clipper is an iconic aircraft. Boeing only produced twelve of these huge
B-314 seaplanes but one of them became the first airliner to fly around the world. Pan Am put the first Clippers into operation in 1939; in addition to cargo and a few passengers, they mainly carried mail. They flew regular return flights between New York, Lisbon and Marseille, with flights taking 29 hours to complete. The aircraft were operated by Pan Am until 1946 and then used by smaller airlines until the 1950s.
Noumea, an air base during the Second World War
The huge triple-tailed flying boat was a familiar sight for Noumea’s inhabitants. Pan Am’s Clipper fleet was pressed into US military service during World War II, and one of the seaplanes, first named California Clipper, then renamed Pacific Clipper, registered as NC-18602(A), was used to fly the Pacific route. Noumea served as one of the bases on the route between San Francisco and Auckland throughout the war. The Pacific Clipper was nearing Auckland when Pearl Harbour was attacked and the US joined the war. There was only one way back to the United States, the long way via Asia, Africa and across the Atlantic. The great seaplane had set off from California on 2 December 1941 but only made it back to New York’s La Guardia Marine Terminal on 6 January 1942, after a journey of 32,000 km!