The Pan Am Podcast

The Pan Am Podcast

Experience the legacy of the world’s most iconic airline, Pan American World Airways! This award-winning history and humanities program brings Pan Am’s 64-year history to life through engaging storytelling and insightful interviews from Pan Am employees, passengers, historians, authors, fashionistas, and aviation enthusiasts! Hosted by historian Tom Betti, the program has won the following awards: Gold 2023 Muse Creative Award, Silver 2023 Vega Digital Award, Gold Award from the 2023 Hear Now Palooza of the National Audio Theater Festivals, Silver 2022 Muse Creative Award, Arcturus 2022 Vega Digital Award (Podcast), and Arcturus 2022 Vega Digital Award (Best Host). The Pan Am Podcast is brought to you by the Pan Am Museum in Garden City, New York and is sponsored by the generous personal support of Mr. Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres and President of the Pan Am Historical Foundation. The Pan Am Museum Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and would appreciate your consideration of tax-deductible donations.


September 28, 2023 62 mins

In this episode we are joined by Nell McShane Wulfhart, author of the book The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet.

Nell is a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section and wrote the column “Carry On” from 2016 to 2019. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, and T Magazine. She is also the auth...

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In this episode we are turning the tables…the interviewee becomes the interviewer. Guest host Phillip Keene interviews the host of The Pan Am Podcast, historian Tom Betti to bring our listeners his story. Phillip is a podcast guest in episodes 18, 29,  and 30.

This program is marking a milestone as this is the 40th episode and the beginning of season three.

Tom Betti is dedicated to bringing history to life through entertai...

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In this episode we are joined by 98-year-old Madeline Smith and her daughter Valerie Smith O’Grady Skinner. 

Both were Pan Am flight attendants…Madeline joined  the airline right after the war in 1946 and Valerie, following in her mother’s footsteps, joined the company in 1977.

Madeline was a stewardess until 1951 when she resigned to marry the love of her life. But although personally leaving Pan Am’s employment,...

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In this episode we are joined by Dan Colussy who served as Pan Am’s President and Chief Operating Officer in the 1970s. Dan will share his experiences of working in the airline industry during a pivotal point in Pan Am history. This interview provides a unique look inside the workings of the  executive leadership of the airline in the 1970s. 

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard after college, Mr. Colussy began his career...

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In this episode we are joined by 99-year-old Lester Kappel. He worked for Pan Am during World War II beginning in early 1942 until mid 1946. He was stationed for the majority of World War II in Casablanca with the African-Orient division of Pan Am under the Air Transport Command. 

Lester provides a unique perspective of what it was like to be working for the airline during wartime in support of Allied forces that utilized Pan Am’s v...

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In this episode we are joined by legendary journalist Sam Donaldson where we will talking about traveling  with Pan Am on assignment, covering presidents as White House correspondent, tracking down a Nazi war criminal, deregulation of the airlines, and everything in between.

He is best known for his distinguished 52 year career at ABC News, where he covered stories and conducted investigations of national and internationa...

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February 16, 2023 100 mins

In this episode we continue to celebrate Black History Month and are joined by veteran Pan Am pilots Captain Perry Jones and Ed Moon.

Perry was the first African American to be hired by Pan Am in late 1965 and Ed was the third to be hired in early 1967.

The second African American hired by Pan Am was Otis Benjamin Young in 1966. "O.B.," as he was affectionally referred to, was born in 1938 and graduated...

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In this episode we celebrate Black History Month and are joined by author Bruce Wolk to explore the inspiring life of sports legend Junius Kellogg and his incredible connection to Pan American World Airways. 

Junius Kellogg was born on March 16, 1927 in Haverstraw, New York to Lucy Lee Williams and Theodore Kellogg. Young Junius always excelled in the classroom as an outstanding student, but also was an exceptional athlete...

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In this episode we are joined by Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty.

Johanna joined Pan American World Airways in 1970 as a flight attendant, and was later promoted to purser, trainer, and in 1986 was appointed Corporate Manager of Pan Am’s new Employee Assistance Program (also known commonly today as EAP).

In this role, Johanna was responsible for the oversight of bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of the 1988 Lockerbie dis...

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On December 11, 2022,  Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi (Mas’ud), the suspected bomb maker in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice and brought to the United States for prosecution. 

In this episode we are joined by two distinguished guests, Fred Burton and Mark Zaid, who discuss counterterrorism, the intelligence community, the Lockerbie investigation spanning more than ...

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In this episode we will be recognizing the 31st anniversary of Pan American World Airways ceasing operations and explore the lead up to and the tumultuous year of 1991 which ended with the shutdown of Pan Am.

For the first interview, we are joined by the last CEO and Chairman of Pan Am, Russell L. Ray, Jr., and talk about his unpredictable and short time as the last leader of the airline. Mr. Ray has held senior positions with Briti...

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December 7, 2022 59 mins

In this 30th episode of The Pan Am Podcast we will be exploring the Art of Travel posters!

We are joined by guests Phillip Keene, a Pan Am veteran flight attendant and collector and Meg Williams of the company Stick No Bills which restores and recreates high quality travel posters in stunning detail with rich and vibrant colors! Their posters range from affordable to exclusive, but all are the highest of quality and color vibrancy. ...

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In this episode we will be discussing the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and begins with a report from ABC News on the evening of December 17, 1982.

Five veteran Pan Am employees (David Hinson, Phillip Keene, Linda Freire, Becky Sprecher, and Linda Reynolds) join us to share  their experience during this time period and  memories of their friends and co-workers that were lost to this terrible disease. 

This  provides ...

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October 11, 2022 49 mins

In this episode we are joined by Captain Beau Brant of United Airlines. He started flying for United in 2005 and has flown regional jets, 757s, 767s, and 787s throughout his career. He currently flies the Airbus A320. 

When he is not in the air, his other passion is music…and today, in addition to being a commercial airline pilot, he is a celebrated classical pianist who loves to play the piano whenever and wherever he can...either ...

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This episode is a continuation of Episode 26 about the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73. On September 5th 1986, at around 5:10am local time in Karachi, Pakistan, a Boeing 747 named Clipper Empress of the Seas was hijacked by four armed Palestinian commandos on the ground during the boarding process with almost 400 people on the aircraft. 

In this episode we will presenting interviews with three former Pan Am employees who were part of ...

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September 1, 2022 157 mins

On September 5, 1986 at around 5:10am local time in Karachi, Pakistan, a Pan Am Boeing 747 named Clipper Empress of the Seas was hijacked by four armed Palestinian commandos on the ground during the boarding process with almost 400 people on the aircraft. 

A total of 20 people, including two Pan Am crew members and 18 passengers, were ultimately killed in this act of terrorism.

We dedicate this episode to all the 20 victims...

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In this episode we are joined by Barbara Morris Wood and Karen Wallin Usas. 

Barbara will be celebrating her 100th birthday on September 13, 2022! A very special early happy birthday greeting from all of us here at the Pan Am Museum! 

Barbara worked for Pan Am for five years between 1944 and 1949. Her time at Pan Am, while short, was nothing short of exceptional as she pioneered a path for women to move up the ranks of the airline. S...

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In this episode we are joined by Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. to talk about his interesting background. He will also provide tips on protecting your identity and wallet and how to avoid scams. 

The 2002 academy award-nominated film by Steven Spielberg, Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks was loosely based on Frank’s life. 

This blockbuster film introduced a whole new generation to the wonder, glamour, an...

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In this episode Barbara Sharfstein, 92, a veteran Pan Am flight attendant, joins us to talk about her flying career, tragedy over the Amazon, and a concert in the sky with Louis Armstrong. 

Barbara joined Pan Am in 1951 and after 35 years of service with the airline as a flight attendant, purser, check purser, and 747 in-flight director, she was transferred to United Airlines in 1986 when the Pacific Division was sold.  She then wor...

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In this special episode we are joined by Max Gurney, who will celebrate his 101st birthday on June 10, 2022! The Pan Am Museum and the entire worldwide Pan Am community wish him the happiest of birthdays! 

Max is a 45-year veteran of Pan Am and a living legend within the airline community. He is also the godfather to His Serine Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco. 

Max was kind enough to invite host Tom Betti into his home for a cha...

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