Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Juan Trippe's Globe

The particularly-well-informed (perhaps the too-well-informed) may recall that I have a fascination with Juan Trippe's globe.

The globe was an heirloom, dating to the 1840s, of the Trippe family. Juan Trippe literally used pieces of string, representing the ranges of Pan Am's early flying boats, held against this globe to plot Pan Am's routes in the early years. The globe was iconic of the adventure and excitement of Pan Am, being used eventually as their trademark logo.
I had been wondering what happened to the globe. I found a photo somewhere (and now I can't find it again) that showed the globe in a Pan Am historical exhibit in New York in the 1950s, but for a while I couldn't find out exactly what happened to it.

Luckily for everyone, however, the globe is now very much located. The Smithsonian Institution has just opened a new exhibit at the main Air and Space Museum called "America by Air". And Juan Trippe's globe is one of the central features of the new exhibit.

The exhibit has a pretty nice web site, and there is also this article, concentrating on Juan Trippe and the globe. The article says that the globe in the 2004 movie "The Aviator" (about Howard Hughes) featured Juan Trippe's actual globe being studied and measured with the little bits of string by Alec Baldwin. I had previously written that I thought the globe featured in "The Aviator" was too small. I was astonished to read that it was Juan Trippe's actual globe. Apparently photos of the globe with Juan Trippe (such as the one above) distorted the perspective somewhat, making the globe look larger than it really is, and also apparently Alec Baldwin is also a lot larger than Juan Trippe.

I believe there is also a presentation at the museum coming up this spring on the conservation of the globe. I'm going to try very hard to show up for that.


John the Scientist said...

Dang, I'm going to have to try to be there for that, too, but work's going to be insane about that time.

Sheila O'Malley said...

Yay - a Pan Am post! I am one of those people who yes, remember your words on Juan Trippe's globe in the movie - I am also amazed that it was the real thing!!

CW said...

Yay - a new Pan Am exhibit at the Smithsonian.

I'm STILL fuzzy on the idea that the globe in the movie was the real thing - the sizes seem SO different.

Sometime soon when I have a change I'm going to rent the movie and attempt to mensurate the image of the globe to conclusively determine if it is true!