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Smithsonian National Postal MuseumTitle: The Pichs CollectionSan Carlos Institute
HomeRoberto PichsThe Pichs Collection, Exploring Cuba's History Through Postage StampsSan Carlos InstituteCredits
Smithsonian National Postal Museum The Pichs Collection, Exploring Cuba's History Through Postage Stamps
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Postal History
Aviation History

The Start of Pan American Airways

Two years after Aeromarine terminated its service, aviation interest was revived when a Colombian delegation, en route to the United States, arrived in Havana in 1925. This was sponsored by the Colombian airline, SCADTA, which wished to start a trans-Caribbean air route. 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. This was to lead to the foundation of the U.S. “Chosen Instrument,” Pan American Airways.

On 19 September 1925, two Dornier Wal flying boats, Atlantico and Pacifico, of the Colombian airline SCADTA, arrived in Havana, on a demonstration flight with the Colombian delegation, en route to the United States.

On 19 October 1927, Pan American Airways made a demonstration flight from Key West to Havana with a Fairchild FC-2 La Niña, borrowed from West Indian Aerial Express (fig. 7, fig. 8). A year later, on 28 October 1928, Pan American opened regular Key West-Havana service with Fokker F-VIIa aircraft (fig. 9, fig. 10, fig. 11). And the year after that, it transferred the U.S. terminal to Miami.

While Pan American was getting under way in the United States, a small company in the Dominican Republic, West Indian Aerial Express (W.I.A.X.) opened its first service from Santo Domingo-San Juan and San Juan-Port-au-Prince, on 1 Dec. 1927.

fig. 12 fig. 12
Map: Pan American Predecessors in the Caribbean

On 20 February 1928, W.I.A.X. extended its service to Santiago de Cuba (fig. 12, fig. 13, fig. 14). This service seemed to threaten Pan American, which purchased W.I.A.X. on 16 Oct. 1928 and opened a through service from Miami to San Juan, via Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Port-au-Prince, and San Pedro, on 9 January 1929.

fig. 15

fig. 15
Map: Airlines in Cuba during the 1920s

While this pioneer airline work was progressing, the famous Charles Lindbergh stopped in Havana on 8-13 February 1928 on his goodwill circular tour of the Caribbean in the famous Spirit of St. Louis. (fig 16, fig. 17, fig. 18, fig. 18a, fig. 18b)

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fig. 18

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fig. 18a

fig. 18b
fig. 18b

Magnifier

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fig. 7

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fig. 8

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fig. 9

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fig. 10

fig. 11
fig. 11

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fig. 13

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fig. 14

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fig. 17

Aviation History

The Birth of Air Transport in Cuba

The Start of Pan American Airways

Pan American Dominates the Caribbean

A National Airline for Cuba

Cubana Develops International Routes

A New Regime

Maintaining International Links

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