"The TV show was great, the company in attendance was even better," said Patti Jackson, Pan Am reunion committee member. The event evoked treasured memories and rekindled old friendships. "It was exciting to see old friends and make new ones," states Jackson. Pan Am employees are "like a big family," remarked Harry Frahm who worked for over 30 years as a Pan Am purser (male flight attendant) and is now the VP Miami Chapter, World Wings International, Inc. "After 20 years we still get together for holidays."
Viewers gathered in the main lobby of the Pan Am International Flight Academy building, home of the original training division for Pan Am Airways. Many attendees were astonished that a portion of Pan Am still existed. They were pleasantly surprised to find themselves surrounded by huge murals depicting the glory days of Pan Am. For Irene Schwarz, the flight academy was the perfect venue. "For us," she says," it was like coming home. Many of us were trained in this building and returned every year for additional flight attendant training."
The preview event began with socializing and cocktail tables lined with Pan Am's first class menu including smoked salmon, international cheese platters, prosciutto with melon and free flowing champagne. There was a tone of anticipation, as Irene Schwarz, V.P. Ways & Means Committee of World Wings International, Inc., noted, "Everyone was really excited and looking forward to the show."
The anticipated premiere was viewed on a giant screen with theater-style seating. Carmen Von Lippke, Pan Am's Director of Operations observed many of the former employees,” pinching each other, embracing and giggling during the show." The ABC premiere was thoroughly enjoyed, eliciting cheers, laughter and clapping. "It was realistic. The consensus was everyone loved it," commented Schwarz.
ABC Local 10 News Anchor, Laurie Jennings whose step-father worked as a Pan Am Captain, was thrilled to be in attendance for the premiere and provided live news coverage intermittently throughout the event.
The event was originally planned for a handful of people at the home of a former Pan Am flight attendant. As the list of attendees grew, the committee decided the perfect location for this large family gathering was Pan Am's remaining home at the Miami airport. Word spread of the fabulous venue and over 130 people ended up attending. "Everyone wanted to be there at the Academy. After it was over people were dancing and didn't want to leave," said Schwarz. "It was a fabulous evening."
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