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Boeing 314A construction number 2083, original registration NC18609.

Delivered in May 1941 to Pan Am and operated as Pacific Clipper, this aircraft completed Pan Am's first flight between California and New York the long way by traveling West. The flight began 2 December 1941 at the Pan Am base on Treasure Island, California for its scheduled passenger service to Auckland, New Zealand.[1][2]

Pacific Clipper made scheduled stops in San Pedro, California, Honolulu, Hawaii, Canton Island, Suva, Fiji and Nouméa, New Caledonia. The aircraft was en route to Auckland when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Cut off from the United States and commanding a valuable military asset, Captain Robert Ford was directed to strip company markings, registration and insignia from the aircraft and proceed in secret to the Marine Terminal, LaGuardia Field, New York.

Ford and his crew successfully flew over 31,500 miles to home via

  • Gladstone, Australia
  • Darwin, Australia
  • Surabaya, Java
  • Trincomalee, Ceylon
  • Karachi, British India
  • Bahrain
  • Khartoum, Sudan
  • Leopoldville, Belgian Congo
  • Natal, Brazil
  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  • New York, New York, Arriving 6 January 1942.

At Surabaya, Captain Ford had to refuel with automobile grade gasoline. "We took off from Surabaya on the 100 octane, climbed a couple of thousand feet, and pulled back the power to cool off the engines," said Ford. "Then we switched to the automobile gas and held our breaths. The engines almost jumped out of their mounts, but they ran. We figured it was either that or leave the airplane to the Japs."

On the way to Trincomalee, they were confronted by a Japanese submarine and Ford had to jam the throttle to climb out of range of the submarine's guns. On Christmas Eve, when they took off, black oil began gushing out of the number three engine and pouring back over the wing. Ford shut down the engine and returned to Trincomalee. He discovered one of the engine's cylinders had failed.

When Captain Ford was planning his flight from Bahrain, he was warned by the British authorities not to fly across Arabia. Ford said, "The Saudis had apparently already caught some British fliers who had been forced down there. The natives had dug a hole, buried them in it up to their necks, and just left them." Ford flew right over Mecca because the Saudis did not have anti-aircraft guns.

A Pan American Airport Manager and a Radio Officer had been dispatched to meet the Clipper at Leopoldville. When Ford landed they handed him a cold beer. Ford said, "That was one of the high points of the whole trip."

Impressed into USAAF and then USN service during the way, it was finally purchased in 1946 by the War Assets Department then sold to World Airways. Damaged in a storm while moored in Gibraltar on 3 February 1947 before the new owners could take delivery of it and cannibalised for parts.


  • Scrapped


Military serials[]


  1. Dover, Ed. The Long Way Home. McLean, Virginia: Paladwr Press, 1999. ISBN 1-888962-00-3
  2. Cohen, Stan. Wings to the Orient, Pan-Am Clipper Planes 1935-1945. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories, 1985. ISBN 0-933126-61-1.

W2 This article includes material from It is republished here under the Gnu Free Documentation Licence.