The Chairmen (CEO = Chief Executive Officer) of Pan Am between 1927 and 1991:
Juan T. Trippe (CEO between 1923 and 1968)
Juan Terry Trippe
was born on June 27, 1899, in Sea Bright, New Jersey. He was the founder and guiding hand behind Pan American Airways, one of the most successful and famous
airlines in U.S. aviation history. Trippe graduated from The Hill School in 1917, and then Yale in 1921. By that time he was thoroughly fascinated by aviation. With an inheritance,
Trippe began a business with Long Island Airways in New York, a taxi service for the well-heeled. When that venture failed, he joined forces with some other businessmen
and invested in Colonial Air Transport, which flew the New York-Boston mail route. In 1927 he created Pan American Airways Inc. from a merger of three groups.
Trippe began service with a flight from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, on Oct. 28, 1927.
He died in his apartment on Fifth Avenue (New York) on April 3, 1981, at the age of 81.
Harold Gray (CEO between 1968 and 1969)
Harold Gray accepted the position as CEO though very ill. Only for 1½ years, he served as Chairman of Pan Am.
Najeeb Halaby (CEO between 1969 and 1971)
Najeeb Halaby was born on September 19, 1915, in Dallas, Texas.
Halaby graduated from Stanford in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in political science. As a Navy test pilot during World War II, Halaby
flew the first operational American jet plane and, in 1945, became the first person to make a nonstop, transcontinental jet flight. In 1948, he was made foreign affairs
adviser to then-Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, and later served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under President Eisenhower.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him head of the Federal Aviation Agency
(which later became the Federal Aviation Administration). In 1965 he joined Pan American World Airways, where he served as director and senior vice president until 1968, the
year he was elected president. He died in McLean, Virginia on July 2, 2003, at the age of 87.
Halaby died in McLean, Virginia on July 2, 2003, at the age of 87.
William T. Seawell (CEO between 1971 and 1981)
William Thomas Seawell was born on January 27, 1918 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Seawell was a graduate from the United States Military Academy receiving his bachelor of science degree there in 1941, and Harvard University
School of Law, receiving his juris doctor degree in 1949. After serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, Mr. Seawell held numerous
military positions, including Military Assistant to the secretary of the Air Force and military assistant to the deputy
secretary of defense. He was Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy from 1961 to 1963, retiring from military service in 1963.
After two years as Vice President of Operations and Engineering for the Air Transport Association, in 1965 he served as Senior Vice President for operations
at American Airlines, then as President of Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, the United States subsidiary of Rolls Royce Ltd. Pan American World Airways recruited him in 1971 as
President and Chief Operating Officer. A year later he was the Chairman of Pan Am. He died in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on May 20, 2005, at the age of 87.
C. Edward Acker (CEO between 1981 and 1988)
C. Edward Acker was born in Dallas, Texas. He is
one of the most famous figures in the history of commercial aviation.
Acker graduated from Southern Methodist University with B.A. Degree in Economics and Psychology. After Graduating, he
worked for two investment-banking and later as Chief Financial officer of the Greatamerica Corporation, a holding company
which owned several insurance and banking companies. Acker was also responsible for the acquisition and merger
activity at Greatamerica and engineered the acquisition of Braniff Airways for Greatamerica. In 1965 he became
Executive Vice President and C.F.O. of Braniff after the acquisition while continuing in his role at Greatamerica. Between
1970 and 1975 Acker continued with Braniff Airways as its President.
A few years after L.T.V. Corp. acquired Greatamerica, he served as the President of Gulf United Corp. After Gulf United's
insurance properties were acquired by American General, Acker assumed in 1977 the C.E.O. position at Air Florida, a company
he had founded a few years earlier. From Air Florida, Acker went to Pan Am Corp. to become its Chairman.
Thomas G. Plaskett (CEO between 1988 and 1991)
Thomas G. Plaskett was born on December 24, 1943 in Missouri.
Plaskett earned his bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University in 1966 and his MBA
from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1968. His career began in 1968 with the Chevrolet Division of
General Motors as general supervisor of the Industrial Engineering Departement, before he moved into the financial arena of GM. During the period from 1974
to 1986, he held several senior management positions at American Airlines and AMR Corporation, including
Senior Vice President of Marketing and Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. From
1986 to 1987 Plaskett was President and Chief Executive Officer of Continental Airlines, before he
went to Pan Am in 1988.