Pan Am's dalliance with widebody three-holers isn't an entirely happy one (in keeping with the airline's general malaise of its last 15 years or so). First up in 1978 PA caused some consternation by ordering 12 of Lockheed's rather desperate shortened Tristar the series 500.
In hindsight they would have probably been better off ordering a few more 747SPs. This order of course looked even odder when in 1980 PA inherited National's DC-10 fleet at exactly the same time its rival Tristars were being delivered!
By 1984 the Tristars were used on routes to Miami and Chicago as well as South American services, but between the end of the year and the sale of the Pacific division all would be sold. Three went straight to Delta and three others joined the RAF. The remaining six all passed to United in 1986 and found themselves at Delta by 1989. N501PA was one of these six which having non-DL standard galleys were retired early. ‘Clipper Eagle’, by then known as N759DA, was stored in November 2000 and scrapping had been completed by 2009.
PA's DC-10s didn't fare much better. When Pan Am took over National Airlines in January 1980 it received National’s entire 15 strong DC-10 fleet plus the responsibility for a single outstanding DC-10-30 order. This aircraft became N84NA ‘Clipper Glory of the Skies’ and was the only DC-10 to be delivered new to PA. The DC-10s career with Pan Am was however short-lived. All 15 ex-National DC-10s were sold off to American Airlines in late 1983 partly as the 5 DC-10-30s didn’t fit with PA’s existing Pacific fleet of 747SPs and L1011-500s. Pan Am’s precarious financial state left them little choice but to sell the Pacific routes and United purchased them in late 1985 but prior to that United took N84NA into service as N1855U. She was withdrawn from United’s fleet in November 1999 and after storage was broken up in 2003.
Here are the two models together: Dragon Wings L-1011-385-500 Tristar and a PAMC DC-10-30 in the 1976 colours of Pan Am. For those unaware the 1976 livery, introduced with the 747SP, included larger PAN AM titles and a swept back flag on the tail.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: