In World War II, Pan American’s Flying Clipper Ships—billed as “the latest thing in the everlasting adventure of travel”—were called on to shuttle men and supplies between Pearl Harbor and the mainland. One flight of the Philippine Clipper headed east from Pearl in January 1943 with the commander of the U.S. Pacific submarine fleet on board, despite warnings of heavy weather.
The admiral was not happy. He had been scheduled to attend an urgent meeting the next morning at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. But the Naval Air Transport Service at Pearl Harbor informed him that his flight was being diverted to San Diego because of adverse weather conditions in the Bay Area. Captain Robert Elzey, a Pan American Airways pilot, had made the decision, and no one—even an admiral—could countermand it.