Juan Terry Trippe Collection

Juan Terry Trippe (1899-1981) was the cofounder and guiding influence of Pan American Airways (PAA) for over fifty years. Trippe entered Yale in 1917, but left to join the Navy, where he qualified for night flying and received an ensign's commission. The war ended before was sent overseas, so he returned to Yale (degree 1922) where he founded the Yale Flying Club. After graduation he worked briefly as a bond salesman, but left when, with former members of the Yale Flying Club, he purchased seven surplus naval aircraft to form Long Island Airways (1923). In 1924 he formed Colonial Air Transport, which served the New York to Boston route on the first United States Air Mail contract. He left Colonial in 1926, after a dispute over extending service to Miami and Havana, and joined with Cornelius Whitney and John Hambleton to form a new service which won the first US International Air Mail contract (1927) for service between Florida and Cuba. This company merged with Pan American Airways (PAA) under a holding company called Pan American Airways Corp (1927). Trippe served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company for 41 years (1927-1968), during which time Pan Am established an air service network spanning half the globe. Pan Am inaugurated the first transpacific passenger service (1935) and a similar transatlantic service (1939) using large flying boats. Following World War II, during which PAA provided airlift service to the United States under contract, Trippe pushed for low-cost air travel, introducing low-fare service on PAA's North Atlantic routes and the two-class seating arrangement. In 1949 the holdings and operating companies of PAA Corp merged as Pan American World Airways (PAWA). PAWA helped the spread of jet passenger service with the introduction of jet liners (1955), and the first Boeing 747 service (1966). Trippe remained in control of PAWA until he resigned in 1968, when he became an honorary chairman and an active member of the board until 1975. He continued to work a full schedule and attend board meetings until he suffered a stroke in 1980.