This film was released shortly after the U.S. entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the film shows a journey from San Francisco to Hawaii and on to Macau and Hong Kong via Midway, Wake Island, and Manila in the waning days of peacetime, with a narration that describes their wonders mostly in the past tense. With the Boeing 314 Clipper flying boats now devoted to wartime duty, it looks forward to the return of luxurious Clipper service after the war. But this was not to be: the construction of long concrete runways around the world during the war and development of land planes using technology from long-range bombers quickly made flying boats uneconomical and obsolete. Pan American retired its last Clipper from service in 1946 after more than a million flight miles.
Today it isn’t unusual for for a single commercial airline to rack up a million flight miles, rather than an entire batch of aircraft.
The Wikipedia page I linked to in the post stated that the single Clipper that retired in 1946, Clipper California, had itself flown more than a million miles in service. They did not give a figure for the entire aircraft type, of which only 12 were built. With a cruising speed between 155 and 188 miles per hour depending on weight carried, it took longer to rack up a million miles than in a transonic jetliner.
Agreed. Just trying to show how much things have changed since then.
Of course, before WWII, without the runways, flying boats were an absolute necessity to reach around the world. And around the world did a Clipper Boat go, having been trapped by the Japanese on the west side of the International Date Line. The only way to get home was to keep going west, hopping from port to port.
Here is a short article from the U.S. National Air and Space Museum about the epic voyage of the Pacific Clipper, “December 7, 1941 and the First Around-the-World Commercial Flight”. The best book about the adventure, Pacific Clipper: The Untold Story, is now out of print and used copies are absurdly expensive.