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 André 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.
George E. Hopkins, Professor of History at Western Illinois University, received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of two books: The Airline Pilots (Harvard University Press, 1971), and Flying the Line (ALPA, 1982.) He has also written extensively for both popular and academic journals, including American heritage and Harper's. Hopkins served for five years as a naval aviator after receiving his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. While in the Navy, he flew the Martin "Marlin" seaplane, which makes his personal experience particularly relevant to a book on Pan Am, the last great commercial seaplane operator.