Aeromarine was First and Then Came Pan Am - April 13, 2012

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Aeromarine was First and Then Came Pan Am – April 13, 2012

Robert Novells’ Third Dimension Blog

April 13, 2012

Good Morning,

I hope the week was good for you and you are ready for a little time off. Today I want to talk about a company that was making aviation history flying to Havana, Nassau, Bimini, and other locations long before Pan Am came to the forefront as the USA’s preferred international carrier.

The company is Aeromarine and they had a network of flying boats that operated from Miami, New York, Cleveland, and other locations. The company was created by a merger between Aeromarine Sightseeing and Navigation Company, a subsidiary of Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company, and Florida West Indies Airways who had just been awarded an airmail contract from the US Post Office for the Key West to Havana route. On November 1, 1920 the resulting company, Aeromarine West Indies Airways, began the first scheduled international passenger and air mail service in the United States.

Now I know that Pan Am has been awarded that distinction but let’s take a look at what the archives at the Smithsonian say:

“One year after Aeromarine terminated its service in 1924, aviation interest was revived when a Colombian delegation, en route to the United States to request operating authority, arrived in Havana and requested authority from the Cubans to operate in and out of their territory prior to proceeding to the US . This new air service was sponsored by the Colombian airline, SCADTA, which wished to start a trans-Caribbean air route in to Miami; however, the U.S. State Department would not grant permission. Nevertheless, the episode stimulated official U.S. interest in foreign air transport, especially for air mail, and this was to lead to the foundation of the U.S. “Chosen Instrument,” Pan American Airways.”

I find it interesting that after Aeromarine shut down in 1924 the Colombians were the first to pursue a revival of service to the Caribbean. The delegation from the country of Colombia, representing SCADTA the forerunner of the Colombian National airline Avianca, were first on the scene; however, the US State Department would not entertain such a proposal and this is when the well connected Juan Trippe suddenly found himself being asked to operate the Miami to Havana mail service.

Now you know the rest of the story and I encourage you to do some research on the facts surrounding aviation in the Caribbean and South America. There is a lot of history here and many trailblazers, such as Jean Mermoz who we talked about a few weeks ago, that are not often talked, or written, about.

That is it for this week, enjoy the photos below, and next week I will have one more puzzle piece to the story of Aeromarine and Pan Am. Until next week, my best to you and yours, enjoy the weekend, and remember the standards you set today as an Aviator will be adopted by those who are following in your footsteps.

Robert Novell

April 13, 2012


All photos used can be found at: