Featured image: Boeing

6/7/1938: Maiden Flight of the Boeing Model 314 Clipper

DALLAS — Today, in 1938, The first Boeing Clipper, Model 314 (NX18601), took off on its maiden flight.

Piloted by famed test aviation Edmund T. “Eddie” Allen, the four-engined flying boat, later christened ‘Honolulu Clipper,’ lifted off from Elliott Bay, Seattle. The flight, which took the aircraft over Puget Sound, lasted 38 minutes.

Boeing would build 12 Model 314s from 1938 to 1941. The colossal airliner was constructed at American Platemakers’ Plant 1 on Seattle’s Duwamish River. It would then be tugged to Elliott Bay for taxiing and flight testing.

‘Yankee Clipper’ started the transatlantic mail service in 1939. Photo: Harris & Ewing/Public domain

First Class Service

The Model 314 was developed following a request from Pan American Airlines. The airline wanted a long-range aircraft to fly across the oceans. Boeing created the “Clippers” after the “great oceangoing sailing ships.”

Pan Am configured their “Clippers” in a luxurious “first-class” layout. Indeed, passengers were treated to the same exquisite service they had come to expect on the ocean liners of the time. Four-star hotels provided chefs to prepare gourmet food in the galleys. These six-course meals were served to passengers by stewards who provided silver service.

The 74 seats could be converted into 40 bunks for overnight flights, and passengers were provided with a dining area that doubled as a lounge, bridal suite, and dressing rooms.

A cut-away illustration of the luxurious Model 314 cabin. Photo: Boeing

War Years

However, passenger service would last just under three years. When the United States joined the Second World War in December 1941, the Model 314s were requisitioned by the military to ferry personnel and equipment across the Atlantic and Pacific.

The last remaining Clipper was scrapped in 1951 after the type became obsolete with the emerging postwar airliners. The featured image shows a Boeing Model 314 “Clipper,” seen as the ‘Jumbo’ of the time.

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