Photo Courtesy of Doug Miller, Pan Am Historical Foundation
Pan Am operated the Boeing 727-100 and -200 Series
Captain Mark Pyle flew Pan Am's last revenue scheduled flight in a Boeing 727-200 dubbed "Clipper Goodwill" (N368PA). I had a special travel agency desktop model of this plane created for my extensive Pan Am collection. Captain Pyle began the morning of December 4, 1991 with a departure from JFK Airport in New York to Miami and onto Barbados. Upon his arrival in Barbados, he observed the Pan Am Station Manager walking toward the plane and sensed the news was bad. Rumors were heavy in those final days that Delta Air Lines might be pulling out of a commitment made to help finance what was being termed "Pan Am II"--a scaled down Miami-based airline serving the Latin American market only. The night before, during a tense bankruptcy hearing in Judge Cornelius Blackshear's Bankruptcy Courtroom, Lawrence Handlesman, attorney for Delta Air Lines, stood up and announced that his client had decided not to commit further financing to Pan Am. "The world has changed" said Handlesman. He intoned this three times, by one account. With the stroke of a pen from Judge Blackshear, the end of Pan Am arrived with a devastating blow to more than 9,000 remaining employees. Captain Pyle was handed a Western Union message by his Station Manager. The message was from Pan Am's new CEO Russell Ray, Jr. stating that Pan Am's Plan of Reorganization was withdrawn, and that all actions should be undertaken to minimize customer inconvenience and to secure the company's assets. It was all over. The issue of refueling "Clipper Goodwill" delayed the return flight to Miami by three hours. All Pan Am personnel stationed at Barbados boarded the last flight home to Miami to avoid being abandoned. The passengers on board passed a hat to take up a collection for the flight crew recognizing that the festive holidays would not be pleasant at all for the Pan Am employees.