Juan Trippe and Pan Am - Part Four - February 26, 2010

Juan Trippe and Pan Am – Part Three – February 19, 2010
February 19, 2010
Howard Hughes and TWA – Part Two – April 9, 2010
April 9, 2010
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Juan Trippe and Pan Am – Part Four – February 26, 2010

We finish with the series on Pan Am this week by talking about the originality of Juan Trippe and his airline. Pan Am had a list of accomplishments that any airline would envy. However, their mismanagement of capital and ultimate demise is not one of them. I would like all aviators to connect with their roots and one of the ways they can do that is by using the “Third Dimension Blog” as a resource. Come with me now as two-dimensional thinking meets one-dimensional thinking.

Quote of the Week

“Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the Impossible.” —Edward Rickenbacker

Pan Am the Trailblazer

The challenges that were met by Pan Am and its people were unique. To say that they invented the wheel when we talk aviation is an understatement. I have a few interesting facts that I want to notate, and then I am going to list all of the trailblazing accomplishments found at the Pan Am web site I mentioned last week.

So, did you know?

  1. The term Captain and First Officer was introduced by Juan Trippe and the industry adopted this as a standard.
  2. Juan Trippe was removed as the CEO of Pan American Airways in 1939 but was back at the helm in less than a year.
  3. Howard Hughes was responsible for Juan Trippe scuttling the Clipper aircraft. Hughes had introduced faster land planes into the TWA fleet and Pan Am had to match equipment.
  4. Juan Trippe started the Intercontinental Hotel chain for Pan Am’s travelers, and he did so by having the US Government loan him 90% of the construction price.
  5. In 1974 when Pan Am’s financial problems were reaching a peak and they were unable to find a strategic partner domestically in the US to provide feed traffic for their international operations, the Shah of Iran offered to buy Pan Am and merge it with Iranian Air.


Pan Am was the world’s airline and they proved it over and over in the beginning. However, I had a retired 747 Pan Am Captain once tell me that Pan Am knew how to spend money but could never make enough to pay for their trailblazing lifestyle—especially after deregulation. Below is a list of Pan Am’s accomplishments, and the link to the Pan Am website I used for this information. In closing I would like everyone to remember that Pan Am is gone, but not forgotten. Keep their memory alive.


Pan Am Firsts

Throughout its life, Pan Am was a pioneer. Most of the services and technology that we take for granted in the aviation industry find their roots in Pan Am. Pan Am built airports, established air navigation systems, trained local nationals, wherever it went. This is a partial list of some of Pan Am’s “firsts” and the dates that Pan Am started service in many cities around the world.

1927 First American airline to operate a permanent international air service
1927 First American airline to operate land airplanes over water on a regularly scheduled basis
1927 First American airline to operate multi-engine aircraft permanently in scheduled service
1927 Service Started: Key West, Havana
1928 First American airline to use radio communications
1928 First American airline to carry emergency lifesaving equipment
1928 First American airline to use multiple flight crews
1928 First American airline to develop an airport and airways traffic control system
1928 First American airline to order and purchase aircraft built to its own specifications, the Sikorsky S-38
1928 Service Started: Miami
1929 First American airline to employ cabin attendants and serve meals aloft
1929 First airline to develop and use instrument flight techniques
1929 First American airline to develop a complete aviation weather service
1929 Service Started: Nassau, Port of Spain, Santo Domingo, St. Thomas, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago
1930 First American airline to offer international air express service
1930 Service Started: St. Lucia, Caracas, Maracaibo, Rio de Janeiro
1931 First American airline to develop and operate four engine flying boats
1932 First airline to sell all-expense international air tours
1932 Service Started: Port-Au-Prince
1933 Service Started: Tampa
1934 Service Started: Orlando, Los Angeles
1935 First airline to develop and employ long range weather forecasting
1935 First American airline to install facilities for heating food aboard an aircraft
1935 First airline to operate scheduled transpacific passenger and mail service
1935 Service Started: San Francisco, Honolulu
1937 Service Started: New York, Bermuda, Sao Paulo
1939 First airline to operate scheduled transatlantic passenger and mail service
1942 First airline to operate international service with all-cargo aircraft
1943 Service Started: Dakar
1944 First airline to propose a plan for low cost, mass transportation on a worldwide basis
1945 First airline to use high-speed commercial land planes on a transatlantic route, the Douglas DC-4
1945 Service Started: Philadelphia, London, Shannon
1946 First airline to operate non-stop scheduled service between Miami and New York (National)
1946 First American airline to install GCA, Ground Controlled Approach, in overseas operations
1946 Service Started: Houston, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Prague
1947 First airline to operate a scheduled round-the-world service
1947 Service Started: Boston, Washington, Istanbul, Karachi
1948 First airline to provide tourist-class service outside the continental US
1948 Service Started: Munich, Delhi
1949 Pan Am is the launch customer for Boeing’s B-377 Stratocruiser
1949 Service Started: St. Croix, Nice
1950 First airline with low-cost day and night coach service on the East Coast (National)
1950 First commercial airline to enter the Korean airlift
1950 Service Started: Amsterdam, Hamburg, Helsinki, Oslo, Paris,Stockholm
1951 Service Started: Rome
1952 First airline to use aircraft built specifically for tourist-class service in transatlantic service, the Douglas DC-6B
1954 Service Started: Chicago, Detroit, Nuremburg
1955 Pan Am specifies and orders the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8
1957 Service Started: Barbados
1958 Taking advantage of jets, Pan Am introduces Economy fares
1958 Pan Am’s Boeing 707 Clipper America starts the jet age with the first scheduled transatlantic service in American built jets
1958 First airline to operate jets with the continental US (National)
1959 First airline to operate a scheduled round-the-world jet service
1960 Pan Am initiates first Douglas DC-8 jet service
1961 First airline to offer a worldwide marketing service to shippers and importers around the world
1961 Service Started: Lagos
1962 First airline to operate 100,000 transatlantic flights
1962 First airline to develop a global computer reservation systems (PANAMAC)
1962 Service Started: St. Maarten
1963 First airline to operate the Boeing 707-321C jet freighter
1963 Service Started: Belgrade
1964 First all-jet airline (National)
1964 First airline to relay in-flight messages via satellite
1965 First airline to operate round the world jet freighter service
1965 Service Started: Nairobi
1966 Pan Am specifies and orders the Boeing 747
1967 First airline to make a fully automatic approach and landing in scheduled service
1968 First airline to transmit engine data and position information from the aircraft to the ground using a air-ground data link system
1968 First American airline to operate scheduled service in Russian airspace
1968 Service Started: Moscow
1969 First airline to receive FAA approval for regular use of the Carousel IV inertial navigation system
1969 First airline to install onboard computers for in-flight engine performance analysis and reporting
1970 First airline to operate the Boeing 747 in regular scheduled service
1970 First airline with scheduled non-stop Miami-London service (National)
1970 First airline to operate production-model air-ground satellite communications system
1970 First airline to test and operate Data-Link automated aircraft identification and position system
1971 First airline to open a major maintenance facility designed specifically for jumbo jets (JFK JetCenter)
1971 First airline to operate round-the-world service with the Boeing 747
1971 Service Started: Bucharest, Warsaw
1972 First airline to operate FAA-certified Visual Approach Monitor heads-up pilot display system
1972 Pan Am builds the world’s largest single air terminal, JFK WorldPort
1972 First airline to employ electronic passenger security screening equipment
1973 First airline to offer upper deck dining service on the 747
1973 First airline to order the Boeing 747SP
1974 First airline to install and operate FAA-certified fleetwide Ground Proximity Warning System
1975 First airline to create major Travel Agent incentive plan
1975 Service Started: Dallas/Ft.Worth, Budapest
1976 First airline to operate the Boeing 747SP
1976 Record setting round-the-world revenue flight with Boeing 747SP
1977 First revenue round-the-world Polar flight – celebrating Pan Am’s 50th anniversary
1977 Service Started: Zurich
1978 First airline to offer scheduled non-stop Miami-Paris service (National)
1978 World’s first round-the-world under $1000 excursion fare
1978 First airline to introduce a new, separate class of service for business and full-fare economy passengers, Clipper Class
1978 Service Started: Bombay
1980 First airline to operate aircraft with fuel-saving “active controls”, the Lockheed L1011-500
1980 Service Started: Dubai
1981 First American airline to re-establish scheduled service to People’s Republic of China
1981 Service Started: Beijing, Shanghai
1982 Service Started: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Kansas City, Freeport, Milan
1983 Service Started: Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Austin, San Antonio, St. Kitts, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Zagreb
1985 Service Started: Grand Turk, Providenciales, Athens, Tel Aviv
1986 Service Started: Krakow, St. Petersburg

Next week I am going to introduce some idesa based on what Robert Ringer calls “Philosophy of Life”, and is perhaps appropriate for this time in the lives of all aviators and Americans. As always, take some time to look back, connect with your past and remember as an aviator you are a “Gatekeeper of the Third Dimension.”

Robert Novell

February 26, 2010