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Pan Am Research Grant awarded to Associate Professor Bryce Evans

Pan Am Tuesday 9 January 2018

Associate Professor in History Bryce Evans has been awarded the annual Pan American Research Grant.

The grant is for research in the Pan American (Pan Am) World Airways, Inc. Records collection at the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections in Coral Gables, Florida.

As immortalised in the recent television series Pan Am, the US air carrier was once the largest international air carrier in the world and remains one of the great names of the commercial jet age.

Evans' research draws on his expertise in food history by examining the science and culture attached to in-flight dining, providing the first serious academic study to highlight the company’s gastronomic history. 

He said: “People today are generally dismissive of airplane food, but, at the same time, ignorant of its history. Pan Am performed a pioneering role in mixing gourmet glamour with serious science and attention to detail. Food tastes differ at high altitudes and in low humidity; the sense of smell is less acute and the scent sharper while dryness of air and low air pressure ensure our taste buds are hindered, rendering many dishes bland. Pan Am led the way in scientific innovation around these problems, while maintaining high class dining rituals.”

The grant, generously provided by the Pan Am Historical Foundation, honours two of Pan Am’s most avid historians, Dave Abrams and Gene Banning. Abrams, a University of Miami graduate, joined Pan American Airways and worked for 42 years as a meteorologist, navigator, and Director of Flight Operations for Latin America. He was instrumental in the formation of the Pan Am Historical Foundation after the company shut its doors in 1991, and in finding a home for the Pan Am’s archives and memorabilia.

Banning was one of the longest serving pilots for Pan Am. His aviation days started with the infamous flying boats in 1941 and ended with Boeing 747s in 1978. An avid researcher, Banning was a guiding member of the Pan Am Historical Foundation from its inception and the author of Airlines of Pan American since 1927.

The prestigious annual grant has been awarded since 2008, and has resulted in a variety of articles, theses-related work, book chapters, and a wide array of research projects. As this year’s award winner, Dr Evans will receive $1,500 to support his scholarly research, which will culminate in his delivery of the annual Abrams-Banning grant talk at the University of Miami.

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