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Across the Sahara in 1941 with Pan Am

Tom Culbert & Andy Dawson


Pan American Airways was in the Second World War even before the United States armed forces entered the fray. Early in 1941, at a meeting in London with Winston Churchill, Juan Trippe, Pan Am's president, offered to upgrade the trans-African Imperial Airways route, as a way to reinforce the British in Egypt, then under siege from Axis armies. It was also foreseen as a potential route to the Allied forces in east Asia, severely threatened by Japanese advances in China and Burma.

Until now, little has been written about this unique episode in air transport development, partly because, for many years, the documentation was either classified, or difficult to locate. Thanks to diligent research by the joint authors of this book, the story of a remarkable accomplishment can now be revealed. Tom Culbert and Andy Dawson comprised a well-balanced team, the former sifting records in various archives in Washington, the latter seeking endlessly to locate his former colleagues with whom he worked in West Africa in the early 1940s.

The result is a definitive record of achievement, authoritatively backed by facts and figures, interwoven with dozens of stories of what it was like to be plunged, at short notice and unprepared, into the inhospitable African culture, from the humid equatorial coastal region to the parched deserts of the southern Sahara. In short, Tom dug out the official history while Andy conducted the interviews and collected priceless photographs.

PAA-Africa, Ltd. - as the Pan American subdivision was called - performed work that transcended the immediate task. Confirming that "90 percent of aviation is on the ground," it pioneered the organizational and practical requirements for building and maintaining airfields for concentrated airlift operations in almost uncharted territory. Remarkably, the first trans-African flight took off within ten weeks of the signing of the contract.

Foreword by Don Lopez
Author's Preface
Publisher's Note

. 1. The British War Effort in Trouble
2. PAA-Africa Gears Up
3. Hustling East
4. Operating Locations for PAA-Africa
5. Flight Operations
6. Ground Operations
7. Altering the Course of the War
8. Military Take-Over
9. Their Legacy - Alive Today

Retail Price: $30.00 Price: $27.00
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Format: Hardcover,  186pp
BW Photographs
ISBN: 0888962127
Publisher: Paladwr Press
Pub. Date: 1998
Item No: 0888962127

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