When Pan American Airways decided to introduce transpacific airline service, it needed an airplane with a high cruising speed and long-range capability. Both the Sikorsky S-42 and the Glenn L. Martin 130 were tested for this service. With its 3,800-mile range, the Martin 130 was poised to fulfill all of Pan American's expectations.
These flying boats were a big hit with the American public. One was nicknamed the China Clipper after the 19th-century sailing ships that traded between New England and China.