Juan Terry Trippe was a U.S. airline entrepreneur. Trippe graduated from Yale in 1921 and began working on Wall Street shortly thereafter. He slowly lost interest in the work of Wall Street and decided to get into the airways business, starting New York Airways as a way to work with the rich and powerful. He founded Pan AmericanWorld Airways in 1926.
1. Inherited Money
Inheritance money allowed young Trippe and a few wealth friends to invest in an airline called Colonial Air Transport.
2. The Aviation Company of the Americas
The Aviation Company of the Americas was the name that was given to the company that would eventually become Pan Am. Trippe was interested in operating out of the Caribbean and therefore set up his company in Florida.
3. Pan American Airways
First named Pan American Airways, and later abbreviated to Pan Am, Trippe’s first flight under that Pan Am name flew from Florida to Cuba. A plane delivered to the Dominican Republic was responsible for bringing the crew back to Florida.
4. China National Aviation Corporation
In order to provide flights in the Republic of China, Trippe bought the China National Aviation Corporation. Pan Am would then become the first airline to fly international flights across the Pacific Ocean in their signature flying boats named Clippers.
5. Long Line of Chairmen
Trippe only served as Chairman of the Board for two years and was then replaced by a stockholder. The stockholder later regretted his decision and offered the chairmanship back to Trippe. Once Trippe decided to give up his position as Chairman in 1968, his successors were either ill fit for the job or ill fit for the physical requirements of the job. There were several men who took the top job but none of the earliest replacements were able to remain in the Chairman position for very long.
6. Continuous Expansion
Although many businesses suffered because of WWII, Pan Am continued to expand worldwide. The company came out of the period of depression strong and continued to expand their fleet of planes and remained on the look-out for new planes that would transport both people and cargo more quickly and in larger numbers.
7. InterContinental Hotel Group
Trippe is credited as the father of the tourist class in the airline industry. Tripp came up with the idea for a tourist class because he believed that anyone should be able to buy and airplane ticket, not just the wealthy. Prior to the development of this class, planes were only chartered by the wealthy or those of notable repute. Trippe was also responsible for Pan Am’s formation of the InterContinental hotel group.
8. 747 Jet
Pan Am was the first company to purchase the 747 jet. Trippe was in search of a way to fly more people for less money and found the answer in jets. Tripped ordered Boeing 707’s but wanted a plane that could accommodate more passengers. The result was the creation of the 747.
9. Stepping Down
Although the 747 would eventually be used only to transport cargo, as newer supersonic jets could transport passengers more quickly, Trippe had a hand in making the 747 an image of international travel. In 1968, and following the acquisition of these faster jets for the Pan Am fleet, Trippe allowed someone else to take his spot as President of Pan Am.
10. Tony Jannus Award
In 1965, Trippe received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation. In 1985, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.
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