PAA: On the Routes of the Flying Clipper Ships
Air Routes Poster of North and South America

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On the Routes of the Flying Clipper Ships
Detail Detail
Kenneth Webster Thompson (1907-1996) (after)
PAA: On the Routes of the Flying Clipper Ships
American: c. 1935-46
Signed in print
Color-printed poster
21.25 x 16.5 inches, image
24 x 18.75 inches, overall
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Pictorial map of North and South America showing the routes of Pan American Airways "Flying Clipper Ship" routes, an innovative commercial airline service in operation from 1931 to 1946. The map is richly decorated with pictorial representations of the people, products and places with which the air service facilitated trade. It is also decorated with images of the seaplanes of the fleet, a 19th century clipper ship in the ocean that gave the service its name, ocean birds, and a row of flags of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean forming a border at the bottom. Air routes are marked with heavy brown lines and black dots for the cities served. Around the coastlines are historical notes related to European exploration and colonization. A cartouche at the top bears the title within the form of a partially unrolled chart, superimposed over a pale blue Pan American Airways logo.

The Flying Clipper Ships were the brainchild of Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American Airways, who conceived of a fleet of seaplanes for international commercial delivery. Trippe named the service after the famously fast China clipper ships of the 1860s. Through the Clipper fleet, Pan American became the world's dominant transoceanic airline, especially for carrying mail and other cargo, although on some routes there was also space for passengers. The fleet began in 1931 with routes between the U.S. and the Caribbean and South America, and expanded to flights across the Pacific after November 1935, which left from San Francisco. This map shows a bit of that route, dating it to between 1935 and 1946.

Kenneth Webster Thompson was an American painter and illustrator, noted for his maritime scenes and landscapes, as well as illustrations for prominent periodicals and clients such as Coca Cola and Pan American Airways. Born in New York City, where he remained throughout his career, he studied at the Grand Central Art School and with George Pierce Ennis. He was a wartime illustrator for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and contributed illustrations to Life, Colliers, American, Look and other national magazines. Thompson exhibited in the American Watercolor Society and Society of Illustrators annuals, and at the Nantucket Artists Association, National Arts Club and Cerberus Gallery. He earned dozens of awards for his illustrations, from the Chicago Art Directors Club, New York Art Directors Club and American Institute of Graphic Arts. He was honored with a life membership in the Society of Illustrators.


Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts and R.R. Bowker, 1959. p. 566.

Hollister, Dean, Amy I. Furman, Mary Bruccoli and Tamara Adams, eds. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1989. p. 1063.

"Kenneth Webster Thompson." 2000-2010. (22 March 2010).

Siddiqi, Asif. "Pan American's Flying Boats." 28 August 2009. U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. (22 March 2010).