Introduction: Airborne (03:24)
Hundreds of people are involved in the first transpacific airmail flight that occurs on November 22, 1935. (Sponsors)
Aviation Pioneers (03:03)
Juan Trippe follows the U.S. Navy's attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean; he eventually becomes head of Pan American World Airways. Trippe collaborates with Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, and Hugo Leuteritz. (Credits)
Solo Transatlantic Flight (05:00)
In May 1927, Lindbergh attempts to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; his success makes him a national hero. Trippe tells Lindbergh about his plans for a new airline and offers him a contract; Lindbergh agrees to be a technical advisor.
Trippe's Background (02:13)
Wilbur Wright's New York flight sparks Trippe's interest in aviation. Trippe attends Yale, trains as a Navy pilot, and befriends prominent families. For a time, he sells bonds on Wall Street.
War Surplus Planes (05:30)
Air shows become popular after WWI and the U. S. government pioneers airmail. Trippe envisions air passenger service and forms Long Island Airways. He meets Elizabeth Stettinius; her father will not approve the match unless he changes careers.
U.S. Air Mail (03:39)
In 1925, Congress passes the Air Mail Act. Trippe engineers a merger that becomes Colonial Air Transport and wins the Boston route; he orders Fokker trimotor planes. A dispute with the board ends his position and Stettinius' parents send her to Europe.
"Lindbergh Boom" (03:39)
Lindbergh embarks on an aerial tour of the U.S. His approach to flying validates aviation as a business. Trippe forms an international air mail company and engineers a merger in an attempt to obtain the Key West/Havana air mail contract.
Pan American Airways (04:40)
The merger struggles until Trippe presents exclusive landing rights in Havana; service must begin in six days. Cy Caldwell makes the drop in a sea plane and a Fokker trimotor begins regular service nine days later.
Igor Sikorsky (07:13)
Sikorsky seeks refuge in America after becoming a target for the Bolsheviks. He begins building a large passenger plane and designs several more, including an amphibious aircraft; Trippe purchases 40 S-38s for Pan Am.
Communication Technology (07:40)
Pan Am discovers the challenges of international flight without a communications system. Hugo Leuteritz investigates the use of radio in aviation, but RCA refuses his financial request. He builds and tests a prototype, recognizing the need for a direction finder.
Aviation Navigation (06:09)
With the help of Ferris Sullinger, Leuteritz applies radio frequency principles to flight. He pitches the benefits of radio to Pan Am pilots who are resistant; a flight crash lands 300 miles off course.
Pan Am Prospects (03:26)
Trippe asks Leuteritz to join Pan Am as the head of communications. Lindbergh will create new routes and Sikorsky will build specialized planes. See a preview of the next episode.
Credits: Airborne (01:10)
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