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Pan Am exhibit celebrates airline’s impact on Hawaii

In 1939 a one-way Pan American World Airways ticket to Hawaii cost about $278. Adjusted for inflation, it would be about $4,317 in today’s dollars.

Information like that and more will be available at the Pacific Aviation Museum’s Pan Am exhibit, debuting Oct. 22. The exhibit will also mark the 75th anniversary of the historic commercial airline’s passenger service to the state.

The new, permanent exhibit was designed by Alabama-based Southern Custom Exhibits but built by Honolulu museum staff.

“(Pan Am) really put Hawaii on the map as a destination, where it didn’t have to take 10 days to get here,” said Jim Goodall, associate curator.

The exhibit, which cost the museum $15,000 to put together, will initially feature artifacts and memorabilia in two themes: “The Early Years,” which covers the 1930s and 1940s, and “The Jet Age,” which will cover the 1960s. The first Hawaii passenger flight flew on Oct. 21, 1936.

The exhibit will also include uniforms, customer service items, posters, signage, navigation tools, maps for routes to the island and biographical information on the founders of the air service, including Juan Trippe and Charles Lindbergh.

News of the exhibit coincides with the debut of ABC’s “Pan Am” TV series, which focuses on the 1960s era of the airline. The show premieres Sunday.

Goodall said the exhibit was in the works since January 2010, long before the public was aware of the series.

“We were trying to work out some deal with ABC, but … it just didn’t work out,” Goodall said. “But they’re very excited about the exhibit, and we’re very excited about the show.”

Goodall stressed that the exhibit will grow as the years go by. He asks that anyone in Hawaii who has artifacts from Pan Am give them to the museum on a permanent loan.

A special reception will be held Oct. 22 to mark the exhibit’s opening. Former Pan Am flight attendants will be in uniform while the museum hosts the media and dignitaries.

“We have collected original Pan Am-branded items to be viewed in what appears to be the inside cabin of an airliner,” said museum Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff. “It’s a fun concept and an exciting addition to our history of aviation in the Pacific.”

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