Pan Am Pioneer: A Manager's Memoir from Seaplane Clippers to Jumbo Jets

Pan Am Pioneer: A Manager's Memoir from Seaplane Clippers to Jumbo Jets

Pan Am Pioneer: A Manager's Memoir from Seaplane Clippers to Jumbo Jets

Pan Am Pioneer: A Manager's Memoir from Seaplane Clippers to Jumbo Jets

Synopsis

History will mark the twentieth century as the age that brought forth the revolution of air travel, and few played a more integral role in realizing its possibilities than Sanford B. Kauffman. For more than forty years, he served at the elbow of Juan Terry Trippe, Pan American World Airways' founder. Pan Am became Kauffman's life. An eyewitness to the growth of history's most famous airline, he saw it all. From his beginning as an assistant to André Priester, the crusty Dutch technical genius behind Pan Am's early rise, to his eventual vice-presidency for engineering, Kauffman's career spanned the great bulk of commercial aviation history. Though neither a pilot nor an engineer, he was precisely the sort of manager Juan Trippe was looking for: young, educated, urbane, knowledgeable in foreign languages and the wider world. Kauffman was, in short, an old-fashioned generalist among technical specialists. His invaluable broader view made Kauffman key to Pan Am's glamorous ascent from the romantic era of gracious flying boats with their elite passengers to the advent of no-nonsense jumbo jets and mass-market travel. This is the story of one exceptional man, his fascinating life, and the romance of a by-gone era that lives through his words.

Excerpt

Sanford Bogert Kauffman’s life closely paralleled that of Pan American World Airways. In a sense, Pan Am was Kauffman’s life. Born August 8, 1907, into an upstate New York farming family of modest means, Kauffman launched his career in airline management after graduating from Yale in 1928. Just a year earlier, on October 19, 1927, Pan Am had made its inaugural flight from Key West to Havana.

Kauffman probably owed his job to Yale. When it came to hiring, Juan Terry Trippe (class of 1921), Pan Am’s founder, showed a marked affinity for graduates of his alma mater. After a year of post-graduate work in Europe, where he polished his language skills while “interning” with the German airline, Lufthansa, Kauffman returned home in 1929 and immethately found employment with Pan Am. For the next 43 years, Kauffman served at Juan Trippe’s elbow, an eye-witness to his handling of history’s most famous airline. Kauffman saw it all, the years of glory as well as the beginning of Pan Am’s decline. He died February 23, 1993, barely outliving the airline to which he had given his life. Pan Am flew its last flight in December, 1991—a nice symmetry.

Neither a pilot nor an engineer, Sanford B. Kauffman made his way in an industry dominated by those callings—an old-fashioned “generalist” among technical specialists. Juan Trippe staffed Pan Am’s corporate offices with others like Kauffman—educated, urbane young men who knew foreign languages and something of the wider world—but none were so successful as he. Kauffman would eventually become Technical Vice President for the company—a remarkable feat of self-education for a man who lacked formal training in the arcane field of aeronautics.

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