Pan Am's founder, Juan Trippe, and Charles Lindbergh stand with a Fokker F-10 at the dedication of Pan Am's 36th Street Airport in Miami in 1929. As a boy growing up in Manhattan, Trippe saw pictures of a French pilot's airplane that crashed while attempting to cross the English Channel in 1909. He built a wooden model of it, powered it with rubber bands, and flew it in Central Park. While studying engineering at Yale, he became a pilot and began racing planes.
Trippe was standing in the crowd on May 20, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh left Roosevelt Field on Long Island to attempt the first solo flight across the Atlantic. After "Lucky Lindy" touched down in Paris, he became the hero of the century. Trippe, who had just founded Pan Am, invited Lindbergh to join him as a technological advisor. In 1927, Pan American Airways began flying the mail from Key West to Havana, Cuba. Together Trippe and Lindbergh opened up routes throughout South America, Asia, and Europe. Both men shared a global vision for aviation and remained friends for life.