Airlines Remembered

Panagra

Photos © R.Leeuw


Panagra ceased operations (again) in 1999
Homebase: Ft. Lauderdale,FL
Founded: 1929 and 1996
ICAO callsign: Panagra
Flightnbr prefix: 7E / PGI
Operations: passengers

C-GKKF is seen departing Miami, feb.1999
C-GKKF is a Boeing 727-227(A) (c/n 21043/1113) leased from Kelowna Flightcraft, hence the Canadian registration. It is seen here operating in the colorscheme of previous operator "Greyhound Air".

Panagra initially started a long time ago, a cooperation by Pan American World Airways and W.R. Grace back in 1929. Grace had been in Peru and the west coast of South America for over 100 years. It dominated ocean transport in the region and had blocked Pan Am from flying south of Panama down to the west coast. Juan Trippe, the CEO of Pan Am who brought Pan Am to great heights, had begun acquiring local airlines in Peru and Chile and tried to organize a national airline network. W.R. Grace and Juan Trippe formed a 50/50 partnership airline, Pan American Grace Airways or Panagra for short.
Panagra actually built and operated airports along the west coast of South America.
A good history is shown on www.braniffinternational.org/history/panagra.htm
In 1967 Braniff International moved in and took over.

Braniff went broke in 1982 (and restarted at least twice !).
Apparently someone thought it a good idea to start again, under this famous name. So in 1996 operations were restarted from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Boeing 727 C-GKKF was operated for Sunjet and apparently 727 N1969 was also operated. By the time I photographed C-GKKF at Miami Int'l in Feb.1999 it was months away from the end.

Fred Hack wrote me in Sep.2005: "Enjoyed reading your history of Panagra....I lived in Peru (ages 5 to 15....1936 to 1945), was an avid aviation fan and spent most of my spare time at Lima's Limatambo airport. Ultimately joined USAF Aviation Cadet program and became a pilot....have many C-47 hours among others.
I noted that your history says that Panagra only lost one aircraft with no fatalities, but, if I recall correctly, one was lost with quite a few fatalities and only one survivor....pilot took a "shortcut" between Lima and Arequipa over the mountains rather than take the usual over-water route, got into weather and flew into a mountain peak.
Another was lost in a freak accident....a maintenance man in Lima who had been taking flying lessons in a Cub stole a DC-3 with a buddy....he managed to get it off the ground nose high (he had been told to keep the Cub's nose on the horizon so he did the same with the DC-3)....flew straight out over the ocean, but when he attempted a turn stalled out and spun into the water.
This was an aircraft that Panagra had just received from the USAAF and completely reconditioned for passenger use, and it was rather desperately needed.
Flights, especially between Lima and Panama, were at a premium during and right after WWII. My mother, two sisters and myself had to wait until November, 1945 to get a flight North. With many stops and an overnight stay in Colombia due to weather, the trip took a day and a half.
Panagra was quite an airline. I still have a large certificate they sent me, signed by Capt. John McClesky, making me an honorary "Condor."
Thanks Fred!


Sources:
Airline Pasionado by Robert C. Booth (Palawdr Press, 1998)
About Grace
Panagra on Airline History



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Last updated 19.9.2005