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Across The Pacific: Episode 3 "Another Ocean"

Pan Am postcard

With his path across the Atlantic blocked, Juan Trippe surprises even his own staff by turning to the Pacific. Defying the skeptics, Pan Am builds an airway to Asia, allowing its airplanes to hopscotch across the world's widest ocean by landing at five stepping stone islands: Hawaii, Midway, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines.

Hugo Leuteritz's radio direction finders point the way, and Igor Sikorsky's latest flying boat, the S-42, pioneers the route before giving way to the Martin M-130 known as the China Clipper. Within two years, Pan Am is offering regular passenger service to Hong Kong, connecting America and the Asian mainland. Air service from New York to London begins in 1939, completing a chain of airways encircling the globe.

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.