Segments in this Video

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)

Credits: Airborne

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Episode 1: Airborne (Across the Pacific)

Part of the Series : Across the Pacific
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Airline executive Juan Trippe, pilot Charles Lindbergh, airplane builder Igor Sikorsky, and radio engineer Hugo Leuteritz join forces to build an airline to Latin America as Pan Am takes flight.

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL210877

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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