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Across The Pacific: Episode 1 "Airborne"

China Clipper preparing for flight

In Across The Pacific: Airborne, the film's four main characters - airline executive Juan Trippe, pilot Charles Lindbergh, airplane builder Igor Sikorsky and radio engineer Hugo Leuteritz - separately struggle to find a place in post-World War I aviation. Their struggles illuminate the challenges all aviation pioneers face in these early, uncertain days. After repeated setbacks, the four men join forces and, capitalizing on the Air Mail Act and the aviation mania triggered by Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight, set out to build an airline to South America: Pan Am.


About the series
Across the Pacific is a three-hour documentary series about one of the great milestones in aviation history: the 1935 crossing of the Pacific Ocean by a Pan American Airways flying boat known as the China Clipper.

The  China Clipper’s take-off from San Francisco Bay in November 1935 was one of the most-anticipated, most-listened-to events in history to that point. Broadcast live over nine radio networks reaching millions of listeners on four continents, it was a forerunner of the rocket launches from Cape Canaveral a quarter century later. People everywhere sensed this was a pivotal moment in human history, for if the Pacific could be crossed, there would be no place on earth that could not be reached by airplane. The world would suddenly be smaller.

But as with the space program, the real drama in this story is not in the flight itself; it’s in the effort it took to reach this point. The Clipper’s maiden voyage was the culmination of eight years of explosive innovation and growth, involving hundreds of men and women, both famous and unknown. Like the NASA engineers and astronauts who would later put a man on the moon in less than a decade, these earlier aviation pioneers built new aircraft, invented new technologies and overcame innumerable obstacles. They had begun in 1927 with a single, 90-mile airmail route. Now they stood at the water’s edge, poised to vault the 8,700 miles of the mighty Pacific.