New Zealand Listener

Accidental tourists

One of the oddest events of World War II was that in 1941, a day’s flight to Auckland turned into the first circumnavigation of the world by a commercial aircraft.

The aircraft that managed this feat was the Pacific Clipper, belonging to Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). Built by Boeing, the Clipper was a large flying boat whose graceful lines, floating gently at anchor in the Waitemat? Harbour, are still remembered by a few as belonging to the most beautiful aircraft they had ever seen.

In the late 1930s, flying boats were still regarded as the longdistance aircraft of the future, given that they could carry more passengers and land on any sheltered stretch of water. It was the demands of the coming war that transformed the power and range of land aircraft and built the long runways they needed. So, for the present, only flying boats could safely cover the distances of the

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