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Author Topic: Interesting Hobby
Jeff I.
Post Captain
Member # 2334

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Well --- it isn't a replication of Royal Ambassador service but --- there is an article in today's WSJ that profiles a UAL employee who has taken part of his condominium and set up a replication of a first class cabin from Pan Am. I don't know ...... I found it interesting and thought others on this board might get a kick out of reading it so ..... am pasting below: Jeff I

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Fliers nostalgic for the golden era of air travel might want to book a trip to Anthony Toth's garage.

Mr. Toth has built a precise replica of a first-class cabin from a Pan Am World Airways 747 in the garage of his two-bedroom condo in Redondo Beach, Calif. The setup includes almost everything fliers in the late 1970s and 1980s would have found onboard: pairs of red-and-blue reclining seats, original overhead luggage bins and a curved, red-carpeted staircase.

View Slideshow

Brian L. Frank for The Wall Street Journal
A genuine Pan Am coffee maker in the replica cabin Anthony Toth built in his Redondo Beach, Calif., home.
Once comfortably ensconced, Mr. Toth's visitors can sip beverages from the long-defunct airline's glasses, served with Pan Am logo swizzle sticks and napkins, plus salted almonds sealed in Pan Am wrappers. They can even peel open a set of plastic-wrapped, vintage Pan Am headphones and listen to original in-flight audio recordings from the era, piped in through the armrests.

Mr. Toth, a 42-year-old global sales director at United Airlines, has spent more than 20 years on his elaborate recreation of a Pan Am cabin, which includes a few economy-class seats, too. All told, Mr. Toth estimates he has spent as much as $50,000 on the project, which he hopes someday to turn into a museum.

"The brand was so powerful, he says. "They had this uncompromising standard of service."


To find artifacts from the airline, which ceased operation in 1991, Mr. Toth spends his vacations trekking out to an area in the Mojave Desert known as the airplane boneyard, where retired aircraft are stripped for parts. When he can't buy an original Pan Am item in good condition, like seat covers, he recruits professionals to create suitable stand-ins.

Julie Fisher, a friend of Mr. Toth's, says one time she got a call from Mr. Toth saying he'd heard about a source for headsets in Bangkok. A few days later, the two of them hopped a plane to Thailand for the weekend to track them down. (As an airline employee, Mr. Toth can usually fly himself and a friend for free if space is available.)

In the 1930s, Pan Am became the first U.S. airline to fly internationally, and in the 1970s, the first to fly Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Pan Am was once synonymous with international jet-setting, with upper-deck dining rooms and flight attendants decked out in crisp blue uniforms, high heels and white gloves. First-class travelers were served out of silver-plated martini pitchers. A parade of linen-covered food carts made its way down the aisle at dinnertime.

The airline began struggling financially in the 1970s as fuel prices soared and competition on international routes escalated. Still, Pan Am made few cutbacks to its first-class service.

In 1988, a Pan Am flight was bombed by terrorists above Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. The airline declared bankruptcy in 1991. A commuter airline called Pan Am Clipper Connection operated out of New Hampshire using the company's blue globe logo until last year. United Airlines, Mr. Toth's current employer, purchased the Pacific division of Pan Am in 1985.


Hopping Onboard Pan Am
2:41
Andrew Toth has been working on his replica of a first-class Pan Am cabin for 20 years. Candace Jackson tours Toth's homage to the golden era of air travel.
M. Kelly Cusack, a fellow Pan Am enthusiast and memorabilia collector who worked for the airline from 1980 to 1991, runs a Web site that chronicles the airline's history. He met Mr. Toth several years ago while working at United and says he doesn't know of many other collectors who've gone as far in reconstructing an actual airplane cabin in their home.

Mr. Toth's obsession with Pan Am began in the 1970s when he was growing up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, about 45 minutes from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Every summer, he and his family traveled to see relatives in Rome and Budapest, where his parents were from, usually flying in Pan Am's coach class. "There was no other aircraft I could walk on board that intrigued me more than the Pan Am cabin," he says. "Everything symbolized something. That meant something to me as a youngster."

As a child, Mr. Toth would save items that most passengers considered to be trash, such as cardboard coasters and paper tray linings from coach meal services. On every flight, he would carry a camera and shoot three or four rolls of film documenting the aircraft's interior. He lugged a boxy tape recorder to capture in-flight audio by cranking the dial on his armrest up to level 12 and placing the microphone to the earphones so he could listen to the airline's music selection back home.

For his 10th birthday, Mr. Toth says he persuaded his parents to sign him up for an annual subscription to the Official Airline Guide, which lists flight timetables and is typically used by travel agents. When he was 12, he created a 20-foot mock-up of the interior of a Pan Am first-class cabin in his family's basement, making seats out of wood. "This consumed my world," he says.

Since his 20s, Mr. Toth has worked for United in a variety of positions and places, including Chicago, Raleigh, N.C., and San Francisco. He created early versions of his airline cabin in the living rooms of various apartments and houses he rented when he was in his 20s and 30s.

View Full Image

Brian L. Frank for The Wall Street Journal
Anthony Toth built a replica Pan Am first-class cabin in his garage.
Two years ago, Mr. Toth, who is single, purchased his first home. He says he looked at nearly 50 apartments before finding one with a slightly oversize garage that would have enough space for his cabin configuration.

There's one modern update: Mr. Toth installed a flat-panel TV instead of the old projection version that would have been used in the 1980s so he could watch movies and TV using his Pan Am headphones. Airline buffs will notice that the walls actually are from a DC-10 aircraft, not a 747, though he hopes to change that soon.

While the cabin isn't open to the public, friends and fellow airline enthusiasts frequently hang out there, he says. Beverage service is included in a visit, as is a custom souvenir boarding pass and first-class luggage tags that look identical to Pan Am's from the early 1980s. Occasionally, he'll prepare a meal in the galley, though usually he orders takeout and serves it on his vintage Pan Am china and serving trays. Mr. Toth has even hosted his United colleagues for corporate meetings.

"His passion for the industry goes well beyond what [he has] at home," says Mr. Toth's boss, Jeff Foland, senior vice president of world-wide sales and distribution for United.

Today's first-class cabins, with reclining, lie-flat seats, on-demand gourmet meals and individual televisions have advanced far beyond the lower-tech cabins of the 1970s and 1980s. But today's airline service and branding just aren't the same, says Mr. Toth.

In the good old days, "I didn't want to sleep when I flew," he says. "I wanted to spend every minute enjoying everything that was happening."

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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Member # 3010

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Here's another interesting story about an old 727 fuselage that was converted into a hotel. I've been trying to think up a good joke about it involving Miss Piggy in some way, but so far have come up dry.

You can rent it for $500/day! For some strange reason the prospect has little appeal for me.

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extwacaptain
Prop Wash
Member # 381

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Jeff,

Great story.......United is very fortunate to have Mr. Toth. He undoubtedly shares his enthusiasm with his fellow employees AND passengers.

Although there is not a cockpit mock-up here at home, Sally does have one wall looking very much like the LA Club room.(Some of TWA"s items were "relocated" [Wink] ....with company approval....both TWA and AAL.)

The one big difference being: The drinks are always "on the house" [Big Grin] and there is no "No smoking sign".


Randolph

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Jeff I.
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Member # 2334

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Randy -

A modified Ambassador's Club in the Valley ........ brilliant! And scotch and cigars as well???

I need to get out to LA and invite myself to Sally & Randy's club! Will my old lifetime Ambassador's Club card get me in????

Seriously ..... hope you and Sally are doing well.

Best,

Jeff

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extwacaptain
Prop Wash
Member # 381

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Jeff,

You betch'a that card will get you in. Ten years ago, Captain Compton had a plaque installed in the terminal three Club room dedicating that place to one of the pilots for his 75th birthday [Wink] .

With that in mind, you may be assured that your lifetime membership will never expire at this "new location". [Smile]


Randy

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ss278
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Member # 244

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I read an article today on the demise of Officers' Clubs on military bases...seems they are no longer popular since so many of our warriors these days are married and have families to look after.

Anyway, the article brought back memories of all the time I spent in one of my favorite clubs, which had branches all over the world...I cherish my Lifetime Ambassadors' Club card to this day, and I still carry it in my wallet whenever I travel. I knew there still had to be one somewhere, and now I know where it is! With the perfect hosts!

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jeff shrewsbury
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We have a cockpit mock-up in our house:

When I mention to my wife that I miss flying, by being retired, she puts me in the mock-up around bed time for 8 hours.

She has a chair in a closet, puts on the vacuum cleaner to simulate cockpit air noise, has a dim nite-lite to simulate cockpit lighting, serves luke-warm chicken with cold vegetables on a tray.
When I get sleepy and attempt to doze off, she knocks twice loudly on the door to simulate the F/As entering the cockpit. Then after 6 hours she turns on a flood light directly in front of me to simulate the sun coming up when approaching 20 west. I then get a cup of coffee that has been in the coffeemaker all night. Finally she lets me out and I have to get in the back seat of her car while she runs morning errands to simulate the bus ride to the hotel. When we get home I tell her I am ready for bed and the bedroom door is locked for an hour to simulate the hotel rooms not being ready.
When I promise to never "complain" about being retired, I am allowed to enjoy my "layover" and go to bed. Oh, and one more thing, she talks to her friends loudly outside the bedroom door to simulate the hotel maids chattering in the hall in their native language. After two hours of sleep she calls the phone next to the bed from her cell and says this is crew scheduling, you are non-routine!!!

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Jeff I.
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Member # 2334

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Very funny, Jeff!
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ss278
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That's perfect, Jeff!
Posts: 199 | From: Salt Lake City, Utah USA  |  IP: Logged


 
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