Pan American established a Pacific Division in January 1935 with headquarters at Alameda, California, across the bay from San Francisco. By December, an organization of 221 employees had converted Alameda’s land-based facility into a seaplane harbor to serve as the eastern terminus of Pan American’s Pacific route system. To build bases at Honolulu, Midway, Wake, Guam, and Manila, the 15,000-ton steamer ship North Haven was chartered and docked at at Pier 22 in San Francisco. The ship sailed on March 27, 1935, carefully loaded in sequence with two pre-fabricated villages, five air bases, a quarter million gallons of fuel, motor launches, barges, tractors, generators, and fifty-foot timbers to build radio timbers. On board were forty-four airline technicians and seventy-four construction engineers. The unloading, particularly at Midway and Wake, was dangerous and difficult. While surveying and construction parties remained on the islands to complete the installations, the North Haven was reloaded in Manila for the return voyage and sailed back through the Golden Gate on June 30th. A second North Haven expedition in January 1936 built hotels on the islands for overnight passenger accommodations and delivered station managers, hotel superintendents, and other Pan American personnel who took up residence on the new mid-Pacific bases.
“Airway to Asia” poster at The San Francisco Airport Commission Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum