Pan Am made a world record in 1976. From 1st May to 3rd May, the airline flew its B747SP worldwide from New York to the East in just three days. On 3rd May 2021, Pan American World Airways marked the 45th anniversary of its ‘Liberty Bell Express’ circumnavigation. Also, this day is denoted as a remarkable commemoration for the attainments in the field of Aerial circumnavigation.

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Circumnavigation By Pan Am World Airways

According to Aviation records, Pan Am’s B747SP, after completing the first part of its voyage from East to New Delhi, the aircraft secured 13000 km (7000NM) with an average speed 470 knots (870km/h) o 1st May 1976. However, there were ninety-eight travelers onboard that day. B747SP took off from New York JFK, and when it arrived back in Big Apple, the aircraft was going to have a world record.

The second leg of the voyage was 12,130 km (6550NM) away from New York to Tokyo Haneda Airport. This flight is known as ‘Liberty Bell Express.’ The flight landed back with its impressing average speed of 439 knots (91.25km/h) straight from Tokyo to New York.

Although there was a riot in Japan’s Capital because of which the flight was delayed for hours. But they succeeded in their mission and made history, despite all the difficulties and challenges.

The ‘Liberty Bell Express” covered 37,230 km/h (20,080 NM) and arrived back at JFK after about forty-six hours. The distance of the final leg was 12,100 km (6530NM). On Twitter, 3rd May 2021, Boeing affirmed that the aircraft was on the trip for 39 hours, 25 minutes, and 53 sec. Thus, the ‘Liberty Bell Express’ bangs the Flying Tiger Line’s current record by over 16 hours.

Pan Am Circumnavigation
Rout of the Liberty Bell Express. Picture Credit: GCMap

Aircraft Used For Circumnavigation.

However, because of making record B747Sp is called by many names ‘Clipper Liberty Bell’ is one of them as described by Pan Am. The aircraft’s other Clipper- prefixed names were:

  1. New Horizon, 2. Freedom, 3. San Francisco, 4. Young America

As per se, the B747SP benefited the airline for about ten years. Moreover, It was registered as N533PA. The first time Pan Am received the aircraft in March 1976. While in February 1986, the airline sent the aircraft to United Airlines’ headquarter in Chicago.

The aircraft also served United Airlines for more than ten years, registered as N143UA. Finally, in December 1997, B747SP dismantled at Ardmore Municipal Airport, Oklahoma.

About ‘Clipper Liberty Bell’

Douglas Dc-6 was the first aircraft named ‘Clipper Liberty Bell’ by Pan Am in 1952. However, throughout its set of experiences, the airline has given this name to many other aircraft, including B747SP. According to, Airbus A310 is the last aircraft having registration as N814PA, which worn this title.

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