Friday, September 2, 2011

Pan Am and Flying Down to Rio

ABC Television is launching a new show at the end of September called "Pan Am."

The series centers on the exploitation of Pan American Airways stewardesses. The show is said to follow the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963. Watch the trailer here!

In 2004, TAMU Press author, Rosalie Schwartz recounted the exciting early years of Pan American Airways, its launching of routes to Latin America, and the airline's importance to FDR's Good Neighbor policy in her book Flying Down to Rio.

Schwartz uses the 1933 RKORadio Pictures production “Flying Down to Rio” to examine the interplay of technology and popular culture that shaped a distinctive twentieth century sensibility. The musical comedy connected airplanes, movies, and tourism, ending spectacularly with chorus girls dancing on the wings of airplanes high above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Hollywood fantasy capped three decades during which airplanes and movies engendered new expectations and redefined people's sense of wellbeing, their personal satisfactions, and their interpersonal relations. Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their airplane in 1903, at the same time filmmakers began to project edited, filmed stories onto large screens. Spectators found entertainment value in both airplane competitions and motion pictures, and movie producers brought the thrill of aviators antics to a rapidly expanding audience. Meanwhile, air shows and competitions attracted large crowds of tourists. Mass tourism grew as a leisure time activity, stimulated in part by travelogues and feature films. By 1930, the businessmen who envisioned transporting tourists to their destinations by airplane struggled to overcome the movie-exaggerated association of flight with danger.

Schwartz weaves these threads into a story of human daring and persistence, political intrigue, and international competition. From Wilbur and Orville to Fred and Ginger, Schwartz’s narrative follows the fortunes of aviation and movie pioneers and the foundations and growth of Pan American Airways and RKORadio Pictures, the two companies that came together in Flying Down to Rio.

By the end of the twentieth century, aviation, movies, and mass tourism had become powerful global industries, contributing to an internationally-connected, entertainment-oriented culture. What was once unthinkable had now become expected.

Order your own copy of Flying Down to Rio by Rosalie Schwartz here!

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