Among all the pioneers of commercial flight, Juan Trippe was Wall Street's own child. Born a commuter's ride away in North Branch, New Jersey, he was the son of William Trippe, senior partner in the Wall Street investment house of White, Weld and Company.
Trippe's association with flying went back to the earliest years. His father took him to watch the country's first air race - from the field at Mineola on Long Island, around the Statue of Liberty, and back. With his father he saw Glenn Curtiss triumphantly complete his sensational long-distance flight down the Hudson Valley from Albany in 1910. As a boy he watched Arch Hoxey and Lincoln Beachey fly upside down in front of the reviewing stand at Mineola. He met both of the Wright brothers. And when he went to Yale in the war years, he joined the Navy and learned to fly with his classmate John Hambleton in Florida. Returning to Yale for a fourth year, he organized a flying club and took transportation as his chief classroom subject. He also found time to edit the Yale Graphic; he hired Sam Pryor, later a Pam Am vice president, as ad salesman and made a profit.
There was no question that Trippe would go to Wall Street, but when he went to work for the investment house of Lee, Higginson and Company, whatever his fathers expectations were, his own notion was clear. The work would give him access to cost figures for such transportation industries as railroads, shipping lines, and bus lines, there being no airlines yet. Even in college, Trippe could see far.
Before long, Trippe heard from some friends that the Navy was disposing of some mint-fresh planes from war-surplus stores. Calling on some Yale friends to join in and putting up some of the Yale Graphic profits for a starter, Trippe bought nine trainers and started New York Airways. Except to fly to Southampton on the weekends, Trippe never piloted the planes himself, but he learned a good deal about what it cost to keep planes flying.
Congressman Clyde Kelly, a Yale friend of Trippe's, introduced the Kelly Act in 1925. The bill allowing private contractors to fly airmail was passed and Trippe and his friends were awarded AirMail 0Route No. 1, New York-Boston. There were five contracts awarded. He and his "Yalies" provided the top price possible for their service.
Eventually, Trippe's endeavor, Easter Air Transport, joined forces with another route from Connecticut, the Bee Line to become Colonial Air Transport. On June 18, 1926, Trippe managed this Airmail service from New York. Trippe's other acheivements would eventually include, Pan American Airways, NYRBA, and ventures with Charles Lindbergh.
Trippe's influence in the Airmail industry was instrumental to the American airline industry.
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