Pan Am’s young chief executive, Juan Trippe, whose vision, business acumen and political instincts allowed him to build the world’s largest airline by age 35. Starting in 1927 with a single airmail route from Key West to Havana, by 1935 he had grown Pan American Airways into a global powerhouse spanning oceans and continents.

Charles Lindbergh, an unknown airmail pilot whose 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic

Ocean electrified the world and, overnight, made him the world’s most famous aviator.  Hired by Juan Trippe as a technical advisor to the fledgling Pan Am, his celebrity brought instant credibility to the airline as it struggled to overcome aeronautical and political challenges to its growth.

Igor Sikorsky, the Russian émigré who designed many of the flying boats that underpinned Pan

Am’s meteoric rise in the 1920s and ’30s. These classic aquatic aircraft played a critical role

in the early days of commercial flight, allowing air service to international destinations years before terrestrial aiports became commonplace.

And an unsung radio engineer named Hugo Leuteritz, who invented the navigation systems that guided Pan Am’s planes safely to their destinations across thousands of miles of trackless ocean. Leuteritz, before almost anyone else, realized the secret lay in radio – a technology that would prove to be the foundation of aerial navigation from the 1920s until today..


American Public Television

Pan Am Historical Foundation

Virginia Public Media



National Endowment for the Humanities

Margaret C. Zockoll

Jim Zockoll and family

The Ambrose Monell Foundation

The Freeman Foundation

Wyncote Foundation

Thomas W. Haas Foundation

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