Books: April 2009 Archives

I'm reading Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure by Alastair Gordon. As Gordon discusses about the expansion of early American aviation businesses into Latin America, he quotes early Pan Am exec Sanford Kauffman on his experiences working in Honduras:

"Kauffman had been at his post for only a few weeks when a revolution broke out in Honduras. Rebels were flying old biplanes and dropping bombs onto his airfield. Kauffman telegraphed Miami headquarters and informed his superiors that PAA [Pan America Airways] planes should not attempt to land but should fly directly on to San Salvador. When the local manager of the United Fruit Company inquired why the mail plane hadn't arrived that day, Kauffman told him about the aerial bombardment. The manager replied: 'Why didn't you come in and let me know? We're controlling the revolution, and I'll simply tell them to stop bombing you.' United Fruit had put the president into power in the first place, but when the president hiked the tax on bananas, the company thought it best to have him replaced. 'There's a general who would love to be president,' explain the agent, 'so we're supplying him with funds to buy ammunition and equipment, [and] he'll be the next one.' Kauffman got the message and reopened the airport the next day."

There's more discussion of this fun little corporate imperial anecdote in Kauffman's book, Pan Am Pioneer, in the "Stationed In Honduras" chapter.

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Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Books category from April 2009.

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