Machine Design

75 years of Innovators: Juan Trippe

Juan Trippe loved flying and probably did more to make flying popular than anyone else. He created Pan American Airlines and opened up Pacific routes in the 1930s by commercially backing the Flying Clipper, an airplane that lands on water.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Juan Trippe
Aviation popularizer
1899-1981

Even more importantly, he championed tourist class, a way to give working men and women fast, comfortable travel.

Trippe was also an early backer of jet airliners, helping Boeing and McDonnell Douglas successfully introduce the 707s and DC-8s. But to satisfy his vision he needed a larger plane, one that would eventually be called the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet.

He met a like-minded accomplice in William Allen, CEO of Boeing. When Trippe said, "If you build it, I'll buy it." Allen replied, "If you buy it, I'll build it." Trippe assured Allen he would buy the large passenger jets, thus getting the 747 project off the ground. Trippe made some design contributions to the 747 also. He believed there would quickly be a supersonic follow-on, relegating the 747 to moving cargo. So he insisted the cockpit be on top of the fuselage to leave room for a future nose door. He also wanted the hump behind the cockpit converted to passenger space, not a crew rest area.

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