Members of the Pan Am flight and ground crew with the General Machado.
On this day in 1927, Pan American Airways began mail service from Key West to Havana using its own aircraft, a Fokker F-VIIa Tri-motor.
To comply with U.S. government requirements, the company had actually started the mail service nine days earlier with a chartered seaplane. It couldn't use its own plane because the airport at Key West wasn't ready for its plane.
The Oct. 28 flight carried 28 sacks of mail weighing 722 pounds. It left at 8:25 a.m. piloted by Hugh Wells and arrived in Havana an hour and 20 minutes later. The plane was named the General Machado, after Gerardo Machado, a war hero who was president of Cuba when the flight took place.
Passenger flights to Havana started three months later on January 16, 1928.
Historian Allen Morris wrote that "because of prohibition the champagne christening of the maiden flight that day had to take place in Havana rather than in Key West.”