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A Passing Schooner (Paul McGehee)
A Passing Schooner (Paul McGehee)
Honolulu Clipper - 1939 (Paul McGehee)

"Honolulu Clipper - 1939" by Paul McGehee. She flies above Waikiki Beach on her approach to landing in the waters of Honolulu Harbor. The famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Moana Hotel can be seen below, with the majestic Diamond Head visible in the distance. In the early days of commercial air travel, the Boeing 314 Clipper rose above the competition for speed, innovative design and luxury. Known as "the plane that shrank the world" in the 1930's, the flying boats had a long range between refuelings, at the time unequaled. Of the 12 such clippers built, 9 of them formed the famous Pan Am fleet which serviced not only the Pacific islands but destinations across the Atlantic as well. West Coast travelers who could afford the ticket price were in for a luxurious, state of the art journey to Hawaii, the Philippines and more tropical points west, island hopping all the way to Hong Kong. The journey from San Francisco to Hawaii was 19 hours one way at the time, and everyone was treated as "first class". The huge flying boats could accommodate up to 74 passengers, along with a crew of 10. During the journey, hot meals created by the top chefs of the day were cooked in the galley and served at the tables of the dining area by white-coated stewards, serving the gourmet fare on silver service. Card games were played in the lounge, and one could hear gentle conversation from travelers as the clouds rolled by outside the window. At night, the seats folded into 36 bunk beds as weary passengers were lulled to sleep by the drone of the 4 engines mounted on the single wing above. Dreams of Hawaii filled the heads of those on Pan Am's "Honolulu Clipper", the first such flying boat in the fleet. The "Honolulu Clipper" entered service in early 1939 and ran the regular Pacific route from San Francisco to Hawaii and back. Her happy career was cut short, however, with the December 7, 1941 bombing of the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by Japan which drew us into World War II. The US Navy commandeered all of the flying boats in 1942, and in the case of "Honolulu Clipper" kept her commercial pilots and navigators on to fly dangerous runs to Australia and New Zealand, under the watchful eyes of the Japanese. She survived the years of war, but during a November, 1945 run carrying officers home to peacetime America, she had to make an ocean landing 650 miles from Oahu in the middle of the night because of a double engine failure. A nearby tanker picked up the plane's passengers. The Naval escort carrier "Manila Bay" sent some mechanics over to service the crippled plane, but they could not make the repairs needed for her to take flight again. A Naval tender ship, the "San Pablo", was sent to give "Honolulu Clipper" a tow, but during the journey a freak wave lifted the "Honolulu Clipper" up and down...and her nose and wingtip smashed into the side of the Naval ship, incurring considerable damage to the plane. Salvage was deemed impractical, and "Honolulu Clipper" was scuttled by shells from the Naval ship...and the once proud original plane of Pan Am's clipper fleet sank to the bottom of the ocean. In recent years, groups have tried to locate her remains with the hopes of recovery, but so far that hasn't happened. The Boeing 314 Clippers are all gone now; there is no surviving example left of one of the most beautiful and historically important planes ever built. "Honolulu Clipper - 1939" is faithfully reproduced as an archival-quality print from McGehee's original color pencil and acrylic artwork, in a limited edition of only 2,000 pieces each hand-signed by the artist. Print image size: 10 3/4" x 21".

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