Junior Wings of Panagra ~ Pan American Grace Airways
Written by Lane Kranz
In the late 1920’s Pan American Airways attempted to extend its route network to the western coast of South America. However, a shipping conglomerate known as the W.R. Grace Company had a near monopoly, albeit by land and sea. Pan Am knew that it would be extremely difficult to acquire landing rights. In 1929 a deal was struck and a new company was formed. Pan American Grace Airways, known as Panagra, was established with Pan American and W.R. Grace each owning 50% of the new airline.
Over the next 38 years, Panagra would grow and connect points from New York to Santiago and Buenos Aires. They would operate numerous different types of aircraft, including the DC-3, DC-6, DC-7, and DC-8. In February 1967 the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and President Lyndon Johnson approved a merger between Panagra and Braniff International. Braniff would operate these South American routes until its bankruptcy in 1982. The CAB then awarded these routes to Eastern Airlines in a 5-0 decision. In 1990, Eastern Airlines signed an agreement to sell its Central and Latin American routes to American Airlines, which continues to operate many of these routes today.
Over a period of nearly 4 decades, Panagra issued some of the most beautiful and detailed Junior Wings. There are 10 different known junior wings, each made of metal, and each wing is considered quite rare and highly collectable. These wings represent a period of history known for innovation and resilience. Panagra is a prime example of the power of compromise.
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