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oral history transcript: Captain John W. Minor, Jr.

Medium:paper, ink
Accession Number:1999.244.0004.03.03
Collection:Aviation Archive
Category:Oral History
Subcategory:Interview Transcript
Airline:Pan American World Airways
Airport:San Francisco International Airport
Interview conducted on March 19, 1999. This interview describes Captain John Minor’s career as a Co-pilot / First Officer, Pilot / Captain, and Check Pilot with Pan American World Airways from 1941 until his retirement in 1979. He describes the training he received in the Army Air Corps at Randolph and Kelly Airfields as well as that from Pan American; he discusses instrument and navigation training as well as mechanic’s school. He describes his experiences while flying the Sikorsky S 42, S 40, and S 38; the Consolidated PB2Y 3; the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, 707, and 747; the Douglas DC 3, DC 4, and DC 7; and the Lockheed Constellation. Some of the descriptions of flight operations on some aircraft are detailed, as are those of flying in inclement weather. Captain Minor describes his experiences as a pilot on many Pan American routes, including Latin American Division routes from Miami to Havana, Barranquilla (Colombia), Belem (Brazil), Panama, New Orleans, and Guatemala; Atlantic Division routes from New York to Bermuda, the Azores, Casablanca, San Juan, Caracas, Trinidad, London, Rome, and Paris; Pacific Division routes from San Francisco to Honolulu, Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo, Wake Island, Fiji, Guatemala, and Panama; Paris to Casablanca, Rome, Cairo, Calcutta, and Habaniya (Iraq); and the round-the-world routes. He discusses his experiences while flying out of the Treasure Island terminal between 1942 and 1944, the transfer to Mills Field Airport (now San Francisco International Airport / SFO), and provides a description of the terminal buildings in both places. He relates his experiences as an Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA) Union Chairman from 1958-1959 and from 1973-1974. He describes the revision of the pilot seniority system in 1946, the “ocean” and “coastwise” divisions among pilots, and the relationship between ALPA and the operations teams in San Francisco and New York. He describes some of the changes he observed and experienced at Pan American through his career, including the introduction of female flight attendants in the 1940s and the end of the company’s cargo business.