October 28, 1927:
Government officials, including President Machado himself are on hand to greet the plane, for this is a special occasion: the very first scheduled international flight by an American aircraft. It is also the birth of a new airline. As the welcoming dignitaries approach the plane they see, freshly painted on the rear fuselage, three letters: PAA. Pan American Airways. A name that soon will be recognized around the world.
Over 700 people witnessed the departure of the General Machado from Key West’s Meacham Airport. The eight-passenger Fokker-F-VII had cost $45,000 and had been built especially for Pan American for the Key West-to-Havana service. Scheduled for 8:00 a.m. the departure was delayed until 8:25 a.m. because Wells had not arrived in Key West until early that morning. A photographer for the International News was on hand to record the day’s event for posterity. After Cuba received nearly a foot of rain in a 24-hour period, turning Havana’s Camp Columbia, the military airfield, into a sea of mud, the return flight to Key West was postponed until the next morning. An aviation legend had begun.”
Note of Interest: Though this flight is the first INAUGURAL flight, it is not the first Pan Am flight. According to the History of Air Cargo and Airmail from the 18th Century:
“Pan American World Airways, for so long one of the world’ leading international airlines, and the incarnation of American might, was the achievement of one man Juan Trippe, and one organization, the U.S. Post Office.
On the same basis as the domestic airlines, Pan American owed its rapid expansion and its prosperity to the generosity of the American Post, as shown by the accumulated results for the ten years 1920-1938: During this period, mail revenue represented 70% of the total income of Pan American (65.91 million compared with 95.4 million).
About Edwin Musick: Edwin Musick’s path to Pan Am began in 1926, when he was hired as a pilot by Andre Priester, who was working as operations manager for a small airline called Philadephia Rapid Transit Airline, which flew Fokker trimotors between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. , and later Norfolk, Virginia. When Priester was recruited by Juan Trippe to join Pan American Airways in 1927, Musick followed him to the new airline as Pan Am’s Pilot Number 1 on October 19, 1927. Within a short time Musick and another pilot were at the controls of Pan American’s first scheduled flight from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, on October 28, 1927.