Welcome to Clipper Culture
The China Clipper created a true “Clipper Culture.” Ever since the 1930s when Pan American Airways decided to call their flying boats “clippers” after the sleek greyhounds-of-the-sea sailing ships of an earlier century, the flying clippers have been connected to romance, adventure, and intrigue. They have been called variously FDR’s “Chosen Instrument” of the U.S. Government to the “most romantic airplane ever built.” Never, however, has the full extent of the Clippers’ importance for the everyday person and their effect on that person’s life been explored in depth. Their existence may have only lasted about ten years, but their mark on popular culture and the world continues.
The book, The China Clipper, Pan American Airways and Popular Culture, shows how the Clipper as icon pervaded all facets of American life. This flying piece of Art Deco shaped our image of ourselves while we conversely shaped its meaning to conform to our own image. With perhaps the exception of the Spirit of St. Louis, no aircraft carried such uniquely symbolic weight in breaking the U.S. out of its isolationism on to the world-power stage by stressing democracy, individualism, capitalism, manifest destiny, and pioneering spirit. In the process it prepared the nation for both war and then peace. Thus the history of the Clipper is the history of a people. That’s also why the book is written andprofusely illustrated not only for the researcher, historian, collector, popular culture specialist, or aviation enthusiast, but for the general reader.
The China Clipper, Pan American Airways and Popular Culture seeks to capture the importance of the clippers in all facets of popular culture. Individual chapters discuss PAA advertising, heroes, celebrities, motion pictures, music, education, toys, games, amusements, automobiles, trucks, trailers, restaurants, bars, lounges, agriculture, comic strips, pulps, trade books, rituals, military, and recent usages. Particular attention is paid to how the Clipper was used to educate youth. You are invited to enjoy the adventure of Clipper Culture. Come along for the ride.