Juan Trippe

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Trippe, Time, 1933

Juan Terry Trippe (June 27, 1899April 3, 1981) was an airline entrepreneur and pioneer.

Trippe graduated from Yale in 1921 and began working on Wall Street, but soon became bored. After receiving an inheritance he started working with New York Airways, an air-taxi service which served the rich and powerful.

Along with some of his wealthy Yale friends Trippe invested in an airline named Colonial Air Transport. Interested in operating to the Caribbean, Trippe created the Aviation Company of the Americas, based in Florida, which he used to take over and then merged into the fledgling Pan Am, then known as Pan American Airways. Pan Am's first flight took off on October 28, 1927, from Key West to Havana. Later, Trippe established the China National Aviation Corporation to provide domestic air service in the Republic of China, and became a partner in Panagra. In the 1930s, Pan Am, with the famous Clipper planes, became the first airline to cross the Pacific.

Trippe became known for his innovations in the airline world. He always wanted Pan Am to be the standard setter in each of the airline industry's areas. He believed that air travel could be enjoyed by the general public, not just the rich.

Trippe's airline kept on stretching worldwide as World War II progressed. Pan Am was one of the few airlines that was largely unaffected by the situation.

Trippe is credited as the father of the tourist class in the airline industry. But when jet aircraft began to be produced, Trippe saw an even bigger opportunity to attract a wider customer base. With this in mind, he ordered several of the Boeing 707 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8 airplanes. In October of 1958, Pan Am's first jet flight took off, a Boeing 707 taking off from Idlewild International Airport and landing in Paris. The new jets allowed Pan Am to introduce lower fares and increase passenger numbers.

In 1965, Trippe asked his friend Bill Allen of Boeing to produce an airplane that was much bigger than the 707s and the result was the Boeing 747. Pan Am was the first customer of the large jet. But with the oil crisis of the 1970s, the airline deregulation act and many other world-wide situations, the airline suffered. Trippe gave up presidency of the airline in 1968. He passed away in 1981, in Los Angeles and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1985, he was posthumously given the Medal of Freedom by United States president Ronald Reagan.

Although it is commonly believed that Trippe was Cuban in whole or part, he was actually Northern European in ancestry.

He was played by Alec Baldwin in the movie The Aviator, a biopic of his rival, Howard Hughes.


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