Preserving and promoting the unique heritage of Pan American World Airways, Inc. and its incomparable contributions to the technology, convenience, safety and excitement of commercial aviation.
Starting in the 1950's, Americans and Afghans worked together to forge a robust civil aviation sector in their country with some help from the U.S. government and Pan American World Airways. Pan Am was a junior partner with the Afghan government and had an economic stake in Ariana, and as with so many other international agendas in the mid-twentieth century, the American government enlisted Pan Am to further goals of economic and technical development.
During the 1960s and '70s Inam Gran was a rising star among a cohort of Afghan aviators. He was the first Afghan captain to earn his fourth stripe in 1963 under the Pan Am and Ariana collaboration and became the first Afghan Chief Pilot in 1965. He envisioned a promising future for his country based on principles of economic development and modern political processes - a vision which threatened some powerful forces in Afghanistan.
Capt. Gran was gunned down on the orders of political opponents on a warm September evening just outside his home in Kabul in 1977. His assassination was, as his son (and filmmaker) Barmal Gran has described it: "The first major tragic event before the tsunami of violence and bloodshed ...descended upon the country."
Gran is working with the Afghan Media Broadcasting Company (AMBC), and contemplates a series of films about Afghanistan.The project is not only historically significant, but presents a side of Afghan society that was overwhelmed - but not eliminated - by the bitter and tragic events that ensued in the years after Capt. Gran's death. His vision for his country was for a democratic and modern nation, and as he saw it, a healthy Afghan aviation sector could play a big part in reaching that goal. In that regard, the past may be prologue. It's particularly fitting that one pivotal aspect of the project is the creation of the Captain Inam Gran Foundation to support the training of young Afghans in aviation.
For further reading on Pan Am and Ariana Afghan Airlines, read about Pan Am Captain John Bigelow and his experiences as technical advisor to Ariana Afghan Airlines in Jamie Baldwin and Jeff Kriendler's recent book, Pan American World Airways: Aviation History Through the Words of its People. Also, check out Afghanistan Before the Russians by Robert W. Blake in our Chronicles section.