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Juan Terry Trippe

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Founder of

Pan American World Airways

Born Seabright. New Jersey

June 27, 1899—April 3, 1981


Juan Terry Trippe learned to fly in the U.S. Navy in 1918 and graduated from Yale University in 1922. Seeing a bright future for commercial airlines, he joined Long Island Airways and in 1924 he became managing director of its successor, Colonial Air Transport. Trippe competed for government airmail contracts and was awarded Air Mail Route Number 1, between Boston and New York. With Fokker trimotor aircraft, he established the first scheduled air passenger service along that route.

In 1927, he gained other air mail routes south to Cuba, establishing Pan American World Airways to service these larger operations. As President of Pan American, Juan Trippe continued to expand these routes in a step-by-step development of an airways network which by 1931 provided an air service completely encircling the Caribbean and South America. Meanwhile, he laid plans for commercial operations of much greater scope: the conquest of the oceans. By 1935, these plans became reality when the famed Martin China Clipper flight crossed the Pacific Ocean.

When the U.S. entered World War II, it was Pan American, because of its global services and experience, to whom the Government turned to lead the establishment of aircraft ferry routes with bases in all theatres of operations, the carrying of ultra-priority personnel, and freight to the fighting fronts. In the postwar years, requirements established by him for intercontinental flight played a major role in the development of both piston and jet powered high-speed, long-range commercial aircraft.

Under his direction, Pan American was the first airline to fly across the Pacific, first to cross the Atlantic, first to order and fly American made jets, and first to order the jumbo jet Boeing 747. Juan Trippe's foresight and dynamic leadership built the Company into the world's largest intentional air carrier before retiring as its Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1968.

Invested 1982 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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