Ed Musick

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Cuban franked Air Mail cover flown and autographed by PAA Capt. Edwin Musick on the first northbound flight of FAM 4 from Havana to Key West, Florida. October 29, 1927

Edwin Charles Musick (August 13, 1894 – January 11, 1938 in Pago Pago, American Samoa) was Chief Pilot for Pan American World Airways and pioneered many of Pan Am's transoceanic routes including the famous route across the Pacific Ocean on the China Clipper.


He was born on August 13, 1894, St. Louis, Missouri.

Musick learned flying at a flying school in Los Angeles in the years leading up to World War I. In 1917 he joined the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps (later called the United States Army Air Service) in San Diego as a flight instructor. During the war he taught at airfields in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Miami, Florida. It was in Florida after the war that Musick founded his own flying school and surpassed the 10,000 flying hours mark.

In October 1927, Musick joined Pan American as it was just starting operations. He made the company's inaugural mail flight to Havana, Cuba from Key West, Florida, that same year. Musick was promoted to chief pilot for Pan American's Caribbean Division in 1930.

In 1934, Musick was chosen to make the trial flights for the new Sikorsky S-42 flying boat. During these stringent test flights, Musick collected 10 world records for seaplanes. Musick's work on these trials led to him piloting the first two trans-Pacific survey routes for Pan American in 1935.

Because of his exploits with Pan American, Musick was one of the best known pilots of the 1930s, even making the cover of Time Magazine on December 2, 1935. Also that year, he received the Harmon Trophy. At one point during the 1930s, Musick held more flying records than any other pilot. At the time of his death, Captain Musick had reportedly flown about two million transocean miles in airline service.

Musick and his crew of six died in the crash of the S-42 Samoan Clipper near Pago Pago, American Samoa, on a cargo and survey flight to Auckland, New Zealand. About one hour after take-off the aircraft reported an engine oil leak[1] and Musick turned back toward Pago Pago. After the crew reported they were dumping fuel in preparation for a precautionary landing, an explosion tore the aircraft apart in flight. Pan American stated at the time that the fuel dump valves underneath the wings likely vented vaporized fuel near the engines' exhaust ports, causing the explosion and loss of the flying boat. Floating wreckage from the plane was later found about 14 miles northwest of Pago Pago by the U.S. naval seaplane tender USS Avocet. The bodies of the seven crewmen were not recovered.


Musick Point in Auckland Harbour is named after him, as well as Musick Light, a lighthouse on Kanton Island, Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. There was also a merchant marine ship named the Edwin C. Musick.


  • From Crate to Clipper; William Stephen Grooch; Longmans, Green and Co.; 1939.
  • Wings to the Orient, Pan American Clipper Planes 1935 to 1945. Author: Stan Cohen. Publisher: Pictorial Histories.
  • Powers, David G. "Master of the Oceans". Air Enthusiast No 47, September 1992.
  • Clipper Wrecked, All 7 Fliers Dead in Sea After Fire. Associated Press; New York Times. January 13, 1938.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ From Crate to Clipper; William Stephen Grooch; Longmans, Green and Co.; 1939.