The Liberty Gazette
September 25, 2018Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Regular readers of Ely Air Lines know that we often highlight the benefits of experience over souvenirs; of having stories over having things. Just last week I was chatting with a group of friends about interesting places around the world. We got to talking about all the enriching reasons we love to travel. I turned to the former army helicopter pilot and with a wink and an agreeable point of the finger, I said, “Stories.” He nodded and smiled wide. “Yes! Stories! That’s what we get!”
Experiences give us stories, and one man who was eager to create—or recreate—an exquisite experience is Anthony Toth.
Anthony was fascinated, some may say obsessed, with airplanes when he was a kid. At first, he just took hundreds of pictures of the planes he rode on from his home in Ohio to visit his grandparents in Germany. But his interest grew and soon he collected things—parts, supplies, anything left over the airline didn’t want, or things he found discarded.
Years of research brought Anthony to the conclusion that Pan Am was the best airline in the world. Ever. His collections grew and years later, he had an aircraft cabin, interior parts, and amazing array of collectible goodies from the now-gone company.
People who flew on Pan Am often expressed delight over the experience, and that was exactly what Anthony wanted to bring back. He couldn’t build a functioning airline, but he had enough genuine parts for something useful…as a restaurant, that is. But not just any restaurant. This would be the Pan Am Experience.
Mike: At first, he operated out of his garage, and only for friends. But when Talaat Captan, founder of Air Hollywood, discovered Anthony’s unique gig, he offered a great partnership deal. Air Hollywood is a set of studios where aviation scenes are created for movies. They are fully in tune with the combination of aviation and entertainment, the perfect partner for Anthony’s business. Today you can go to Los Angeles and dine in Pan Am’s first Boeing 747-200 now housed in a movie studio.
First, fork up $875 per person. Then when you check in, you’ll receive a 1970’s style boarding pass, ticket jacket, and first-class carry-on tag. You’ll be greeted as you board the aircraft by a “stewardess” (in uniform) who will hand you the drink of your choice and welcome you to explore First Class, Clipper Class, and the Upper Deck dining room.
You won’t escape the safety briefing, but you will get a gourmet six-course meal served on fine china, with real glass and silverware, just as it used to be. You can stay for a movie if you like, but they’ll probably be showing Airplane!
On panamexperience.com you will find more information, including their grateful bid for you to come see for yourself: “We know you have many choices of retro-airline themed dinner parties, but we appreciate you’ve chosen to dine with us…”