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 Andrť 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.
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It is not every day that a person is in the right place at the opportune time with the knowledge and drive to meet the challenge of a totally new enterprise. Sanford B. Kauffman was that young man. Aviation was still in its infancy but minds were dreaming of world travel. Where to start? Who would make the first landings? Build the first ramps? And sell the ideas to foreign ports. Seaplanes had to be used. There were no airports. Officials had to be dealt with on every level - including both sides of a revolution when it came to Central America and Cuba. Taking on the Pacific was a challenge of the extreme and the North Atlantic with its cold and storms added new factors to be overcome. The war years brought new planes and greater demands on the pilots. Schooling was required and dealing with Unions did not make things easier. Pan Am persisted and so did Kauffman and a remarkable period of aviation evolved. No one in any way interested in aviation should miss this straightforward presentation of history at its best.About the Author:
George E. Hopkins is Professor of History at Western Illinois University.
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