Pan Am (1927 〜1991)

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 Juan Terry Trippe(English)   ホワン・T・トリップ(日本語)    Charles A. Lindbergh

Juan Terry Trippe

Founder of Pan American World Airways

In 1927, a Yale-educated pilot and entrepreneur named Juan Terry Trippe set out to build a global empire in the sky by sending the U.S. mail in a single-engine plane across the ninety miles of water between Key West and Havana, Cuba. Within four decades he built the greatest airline in the world. The life of this company encompasses not just the story of commercial aviation, but the saga of America's rise to world dominance.

 Pan American World Airways wasn't merely a successful airline, it was the aviation company that helped create what Time publisher Henry Luce called "The American Century." Combining audacity, vision, and service, Pan Am embodied the nation's spirit of enterprise and ingenuity, and exported it on wings. Juan Trippe named Pan American's aircraft "Clippers,"harking back to the great sailing ships of the early nineteenth century. Employing new technology and bold management, the new merchant marine of the air linked cultures, economies, and people on seven continents. It became more than just the standard-bearer of American business and culture, it was the international airline. "Trippe, more than all other entrepreneurs of the air," wrote veteran Pan Am pilot Horace Brock, "brought the peoples of the world closer together."

 From the Wright brothers' epocal twelve-second flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to Lindbergh's triumph over the Atlantic in 1927, feats by pioneer aviators captured the imagination of the world. Juan Trippe first encouraged wealthy adventurers, then ordinary citizens, to dream of joining those intrepid flyers. The names of his famed Clipper ships read like fragments of Walt Whitman's soaring poetry: Empress of the Seas, Endeavor, Fidelity, Westward Ho, Romance of the Skies, Flying Cloud, Intrepid, Wings of the Morning, and Pride of America.

 In his early Manhattan offices on the fifty-eighth floor of the Chrysler Building, Juan Trippe smoked his pipe and surveyed a five-foot-tall globe of the world, carefully planning Pan Am's conquest of South America, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic. He saw oceans and continents not as barriers but as playing fields. His goal was complete domination of the air. In time Pan American came to own or control the internal airlines of China and of many of the Latin American and African countries. In the turbulent years before and after World War II, Trippe operated as an unofficial counterpart of the State Department, boldly expanding American economic and political influence when we most needed it. He had the ear of U.S. presidents and cabinet secretaries, but made his own deals with foreign governments and bested or absorbed  every competitor who stood in his way.

 Trippe offered his services to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, giving the Allies the critical support they needed in World War II. "Any time the government asked Mr. Trippe to help, which was often, he outdid himself," remembers Kathleen Clair, his secretary for thirty-two years. "He was extremely patriotic. "To finance aeronautical innovation in peacetime, Trippe rallied support from wealthy backers Cornelius ("Sonny") Vanderbilt Whitney and William Rockefeller, who believed in the future of aviation. He enlisted Charles Lindbergh and aeronautical engineers Igor Sikorsky, Glen L. Martin, and William Allen of Boeing to help Pan Am compete in a new industry that was transforming world commerce and man's perception of time.   

The soft-spoken but strong-willed Trippe taught his adventurous pilots and skilled employees that following orders and protocol was essential, but also that there were rewards for responding imaginatively to risk. For Trippe, no challenge was too great, no barrier of nature, economics or politics was insurmountable. Through team effort and sacrifice came greatness. "He never issued orders ---they were phrased as suggestions," said Kathleen Clair. "And they did it on the double."

 As the ultimate pioneer of the air, Pan Am created a series of "firsts" in aviation. From the invention of radio navigation by air and, in 1935, the first scheduled trans-Pacific flights to the first fleet of passenger jets in 1958 and the introduction of the 747 jumbo jet in 1966, Pan American World Airways was responsible for every significant aeronautical innovation of the twentieth century. The vision of its founders was so boundless that in 1969 when Juan Trippe issued symbolic tickets for a twenty-first-century Pan Am flight to the moon, people believed it possible. "For some, Pan Am was a veritable religion," observed Robert Daley in his book An American Saga: Juan Trippe and His Pan Am Empire

 In 1968, the year Trippe stepped down as CEO of Pan American World Airways, the company that began with a handful of pilots and Ivy League entrepreneurs had grown to 44,000 employees and was owned by 114,000 stockholders. Pan Am's Park Avenue headquarters, built in the 1963, was the largest commercial office building ever constructed, inspiring New York's governor Nelson Rockefeller to proclaim it "a symbol of the genius and creativity of the free-enterprise system." From the top of this building helicopters flew passengers out to Pan Am's terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Advertising for the "World's Most Experienced Airline" urged Americans to "get up and go" around the world for the sheer sake of going. And millions did.

 No other company achieved the global status of Pan Am in its prime. "It did everything better and first," said Thor Johnson, a former vice-president who joined the company in 1959. "Everyone in the industry knew it and copied Pan Am." It was thus a shock to employees and veteran travelers when the airlines  went out of business in 1991. How could this happen in America? Were there traitors? Was it lack of leadership after Trippe's death? In truth, it was a combination of mismanagement, government indifference and flawed regulatory policy. Observed Stanley Gewirtz, former Vice President for External Affairs, "What could go wrong did." Rather than belabor the U.S. government's failure to protect its prime international carrier or Pan Am's own corporate blunders, I'll focus on the airline's extraordinary contributions to the twentieth century. Pan Am's powerful identity, after all, is still with us in the famous blue-globe logo, which remains one of the most recognized trademarks in the world, a unique symbol of a great era.


 (This article: Copied from "An Aviation Legend: PAN AM " ( pages 17-33) 

Published by Barnaby Conrad III ) 

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