Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pan Am's Flying Again

But only on Sunday nights on ABC at 9 PM CT.

As a former airline employee, I was definitely looking forward to seeing this show when it started on September 25 but was tied up with other more pressing business in DC.  

Caught the tail end of the 'We'll Always Have Paris' episode last Sunday and finally took some time to sit down and watch the pilot and the full first episode and fell in love with the show.

Pan Am is set in 1963 and follows a group of Pan Am pilots and flight attendants as they live, love and work at 30,000 feet and on their layovers.  In some cases they are front line covert soldiers in the Cold War. 

It tells some of the story in flashback form, as it did in the pilot episode when we see Captain Dean Lowery flashback to a 1961 flight from Cuba in which they flew out the released Bay of Pigs invasion prisoners with Bridget showing up at the last moment.   There was another in which Laura is shown leaving her fiancĂ© Greg at the altar on her wedding day with big sis Kate's help..  

We get to watch Maggie Ryan, sisters Kate and Laura Cameron, and Colette Valois endure all the hassles of being flight attendants during that glamorous era of jet travel such as weight checks, sexism, the no marriage rule and the joys and pains of dealing with the public such as drunken businessmen who think grabbing the flight attendant comes with the price of their ticket as happened to Maggie in the 'We'll Always Have Paris' episode .

Trilingual Kate finds herself being recruited as a covert intelligence operative while dealing with the fact her fresh out of training baby sister has become a celebrity due to a LIFE magazine shot of her in her Pan Am uniform.  

Maggie is on probation for not wearing a girdle and was reinstated when Bridget quit.  She isn't afraid to test the rules and her Pan Am supervisors last nerves. 

Colette is a French flight attendant with a tragic past that has yet to be revealed, but we do know from the pilot episode she discovers that a former lover of hers is on her New York to London flight with his wife and child.   

Oops.  Can you say awkward?

Captain Dean Lowrey is in love with his girlfriend Bridget Pierce, a British flight attendant who was the purser on his crew until she had her MI6 cover blown on an undercover which she failed to follow orders and was forced to quit Pan Am and vacate her London flat. 

Dean is searching for her and is mystified as to what happened to her.   In his search for answers to the mystery,  he isn't getting any straight answer out of the people that can shed light on what happened to Bridget or her current whereabouts.

Interestingly enough, the Association of Flight Attendants released a statement after the Pan Am pilot episode aired:     

"The premiere episode of the new Pan Am drama on ABC may be a nostalgic escape to the days before deregulation, but it also highlighted the myriad of social injustices overcome by the strong women who shaped a new career. Weight checks, girdle checks, the no marriage rule, sexism, gender discrimination, racism – all of this was challenged by intelligent, visionary women who helped to usher in the call for social change throughout the country and around the world." 

That they did, and I have much love for the flight attendants of mine and any airline and what they had to endure during my Air Marshal days and now.

But I'm still going to chill out and watch this drama that gives us a glimpse of what pre-deregulated air travel was like on not only one of the iconic airlines in the United States, one that has a deep impact in our popular culture as well.  .

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