Pre Covid whilst we were in LA hunting for vintage we were lucky enough to be able to hold a small photo shoot at the incredible Pan Am Experience at Air Hollywood. This location has played host to many of the most iconic airplane scenes in cinema including Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'. Plus they also host to an immersive dining experience for the general public!
We were mind blown by the replica Pan Am plane and the attention to detail with the decor recreated by Talaat Captan and Anthony Toth. Talaat was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about The Pan Am Experience and how it all started...
You must be so proud of what you’ve created but how did it all come about?
Yes, I'm incredibly proud. We've created something truly special and have brought a community together to celebrate Pan Am - an iconic brand that millions of aviation enthusiasts cherish. It all started during a geek-out session with my good friend, Anthony Toth, about Pan Am memorabilia.
We were day-dreaming about the good old days of flying on Pan Am when we realized between his collection of Pan Am memorabilia and my aviation film studio, Air Hollywood, we had just about everything we needed to make it a reality. It took about a year to fully develop the concept and secure the Pan Am license, but we got it done and, voila, lift off.
Did people think you were crazy when first starting the project?
Every good idea starts with a core community of enthusiasts, and the Pan Am Experience was no different. I knew it was a good idea the moment we pitched the concept to people who were already AvGeeks.
Their reaction told me everything I needed to know about how to promote the event and that it was going to be a huge success to aviation people and also those who love the 1970s and retro experiences. But to answer your question, YES, the non-enthusiasts absolutely thought I was crazy and probably still think I am.
Have you always been interested in planes and why the interest in Pan Am in particular?
Early in my career, I thought about becoming a pilot. But for many reasons, my career took me into the film industry. For years, I traveled the world selling movies - from the USA to Europe to Asia to the Middle East.
At one point, I had more than a million miles flown on Pan Am. And they were, hands down, the best.The brand is so iconic, the service is so memorable. I can think of a few other airlines experiences, but none of them hold a candle to Pan Am.
Is the project finished or are you still adding to the experience? Where do you find all of the parts and decor?
The project is constantly evolving. We continue to add memorabilia, uniforms, and small programmatic details to this original Pan Am Experience. And we're also developing an expansion of the experience that I'm hoping to reveal in the months ahead.
We collect the parts and decor from all over the world. Most of them are originals and authentic to Pan Am, and yet some we have to recreate. My partner, Anthony, is considered among the world's most prolific collectors of Pan Am memorabilia and brand knowledge.
Why do you think that 70s air travel and the planes during this decade were so special?
The 1970s is a sacred decade in aviation history. It represents that short window of time when airlines expanded their fleets and made international travel available to the masses, and thus Pan Am launched the first Boeing 747, which was aptly nicknamed the "Queen of the Skies." During this time, airlines competed on style and service rather than on price. So you had Pan Am, TWA, Braniff and Northwest Orient optimizing their airline for the passenger experience.
This included cabin decor, flight attendant fashion and luxurious in-flight meals. Of course, all of this took place before deregulation, meaning before airlines were forced to compete fiercely for routes and passengers, which put downward pressure on prices and squeezed all the fun out of the commercial travel experience. If there were ever a Golden Age of flying, it was the early 1970s.
We know some scenes from ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ were filmed at the PanAm experience. How did this come about? This must of been a really special moment for you!
Actually, my history with director Quentin Tarantino dates back more than 15 years. In 2004, Quentin shot scenes for "Kill Bill" at my studio, Air Hollywood. So naturally, when he needed an airplane for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," we were his first call.
It's always an honor to work with filmmakers like Quentin - one of the many perks of doing what we do.
Have you had any other stars or movies grace the plane?
Believe it or not, Pan Am / Air Hollywood is one of the busiest filming locations in Hollywood. We host major stars on a weekly basis. It's a lot of fun.
Was the idea always to create an experience or did this evolve from the set?
Well, it was a little bit of both. Air Hollywood has been in the airline movie set business for more than 20 years. Anthony and I talked about doing a retro dinner party on an airplane, and then we started geeking out about recreating a Pan Am interior to make the party even more special, and the concept organically developed from there.
We know so many of our followers are going to be super excited about this! What can people expect from the Pan Am experience?
We've built a time machine. I'm not kidding. As soon as you step in the door, you are whisked back in time to the 1970s, and you're not allowed back to 2020 until we land the plane. We love when our guests really get into it and come dressed in vintage attire...the groovier the better.
Are there any plans to expand or open up new experiences?
Absolutely! We'll be expanding the Pan Am Experience soon, and we are developing entirely new experiences building off what we've learned with this one. I wish I could reveal more, but you'll have to stay tuned to find out.
Due to COVID-19 (no restaurants or bars are open in California for indoor service). But if you are interested in checking out the Pan Am Experience in the future, go to the website and get on the email list for updates - they will be back! https://panamexperience.com/
Also Air Hollywood is open and available for filming and photo shoots. airhollywood.com
Photo above features