The Boeing 314
There has never been an airplane as luxurious as the Boeing 314. Often called the Concorde of its day the comparison doesn’t do it justice. Though Concorde was certainly faster, even a flight aboard that supersonic turbo-jet was not as opulent as a trip aboard the Boeing 314.
The Boeing 314 was the epitome of world-class luxury in aviation. Food was prepared by four-star chefs and served at real tables in a dining area similar to a cruise ship. The passengers all had private suites. And their shoes were shined and returned the next morning, all while crossing great expanses of ocean. Even the lavatories were not the cramped closets of modernity, but instead spacious rooms. For instance, the women’s lavatory had two stools on which high-society ladies could sit and do their makeup.
During World War II the Boeings 314s were pressed into military service. Its long range and ability to land in any harbor made it a valuable asset to the war effort. Franklin Roosevelt celebrated his 61st birthday aboard a Boeing “Clipper” and Winston Churchill flew several times on this famed plane during the war.
The Boeing 314 was the largest flying boat for its time. Nicknamed “Clippers” after clipper ships, they were built by the Boeing Airplane Company in 1938. Pan Am used these planes for long range routes across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Large runways were not widely available before World War II and the ability of a Boeing Clipper to land in any harbor, along with its great range, allowed Pan Am to offer flights to many exotic locations such as Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Ireland. With the Boeing 314’s retirement an era of elegance passed that will never be seen again.