Researching Pan Am with Civil Aeronautics Board Route Records

Emily Gibson with you again, dispatching from the Pan Am Records headquarters with good news for anyone interested in Pan Am’s routes and the legislative process Pan Am had to go through to establish them. The Civil Aeronautics Board (or C.A.B.) was an independent federal agency that was responsible for the economic regulation of America’s airlines between 1940 and 1985. Whenever Pan Am wanted to make a change to its route structure, the C.A.B. was the agency from whom they had to seek approval. There are about 1,200 folders in the Pan Am records documenting this relationship. Many of you may be aware of Robert Daley’s book An American Saga: Juan Trippe and his Pan Am Empire; Daley used these records to help him write this book.

All 1,200 Pan Am-Civil Aeronautics Board route records contained in the Pan American World Airways records have been identified and placed together under the series heading “Legislation and Regulation – Civil Aeronautics Board – Routes.” They span the years 1938 to 1987 and contain court dockets, applications, exhibits (including “Community of Interest” analyses, which are rich sources of information about the destinations to which Pan Am flew or sought to fly), orders, certificates, testimonies, and correspondence.

You may be wondering how one goes about searching 1,200 folders (that’s 60 file boxes!). We have made it easy for you by recording docket numbers for every folder thereby making them keyword searchable. So, for example, if you are interested in trans-Pacific flight, a keyword search for “Docket#5031”, which concerns the trans-Pacific route proceeding, will retrieve every folder in the collection containing this docket. Folder headings and date spans also provide a rich source of keyword searchable information.

If you have any questions about the collection, please feel free to contact your friendly dispatcher, Emily Gibson, at

Oh, by the way, those crazy polar bear cubs, they landed in the Brooklyn Zoo, the New York Zoo and the Cleveland Zoo.