Paul Revere Braniff
Paul Revere Braniff (August 30, 1897 – June 1, 1954) was an airline entrepreneur. Paul, along with his brother Thomas Elmer Braniff, was one of the original founders of Braniff Airways, Inc. d/b/a Braniff International Airways (after 1948).
Early years and family
Paul Revere Braniff was born in Kansas City, Kansas. He grew up during the early era of aviation, and, as a youngster, became fascinated with the new way of transport. His family moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1900. Paul Revere Braniff met Marie Agnes Maney and they married on April 29, 1920.
Marie Maney was born on May 2, 1898, in El Reno, Oklahoma. She was the daughter of James W. Maney who was an Oklahoma Territory Pioneer. He built thousands of miles of railroads throughout the Western United States. His occupation was Civil Engineer and was President of the Clinton and Western Oklahoma Railroad and founded a chain of grain elevators in the Enid, Oklahoma area. Marie Maney grew up at Maney House in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that is now a historically protected property. She attended and graduated from schools in Baltimore, Maryland.
Marie Agnes Braniff was highly interested in her husband's work. When he founded Paul R. Braniff, Inc. and then its successor Braniff Airways, Inc., she traveled with him scouting new routes. Mrs. Braniff great love for Paul and his aviation interests led her to compile a very detailed archive on the history of Braniff Airways. She remained highly interested and involved in the preservation of Braniff history even after Paul Braniff's death in 1954.
Paul and his wife Marie settled into a Northwest Oklahoma City home shortly after they married, that Mrs. Braniff lived in until her death on April 29, 1988. After Paul's death in 1954, Mrs. Braniff she worked as a Records Archivist at the Oklahoma State Capital Building. She also worked at the St. Thomas More Book Store also in Oklahoma City. She was active at her church teaching Sunday School at St. Francis Assisi Catholic Church. She was a member of the Legion of Mary at the same church.
Paul Braniff joined the United States Army during World War I as a mechanic and private on July 6, 1917. He went to France, becoming a corporal, then a temporary sergeant. In France, he learned to shoot, becoming an avid gunman, although he never used this ability other than for warfare.
After being honorably discharged from the Army, he joined brother Tom in an insurance company that carried the family's name. Paul Revere, however, kept dreaming about aviation all along and received his pilot's license in 1917. He obtained Transport License Number 690 from Orville Wright. In 1924, Mr. Braniff was able to buy his own aircraft.
Oklahoma Aero Club and Paul R. Braniff, Inc.
Paul Braniff founded his own flying company soon after, eventually helping convince Tom Braniff and other investors to bring money and form the Oklahoma Aero Club, in 1927. Reserved for use of the six investors, the company was registered as the Paul R. Braniff, Inc., thus marking the first birth of Braniff Airways. Paul Revere Braniff flew the company's first flight on June 20, 1928, from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, Oklahoma in a 5 passenger single engine Stinson Detroiter aircraft. Records indicate that there were flights between the two cities prior to the June 20 date. However, company records began recording flights on that date.
Charles Lindbergh's monumental 1927 Atlantic crossing sparked massive interest in aviation around the nation. In Oklahoma, the interest was manifested in the Oklahoma Air Tour of 1928. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, it involved aviators flying to various Oklahoma town expressing an interest in aviation. The five-day tour, departing Oklahoma City on May 14, 1928, flew eighteen thousand cumulative miles and stopped at eighteen towns. An estimated 100,000 people turned out to view the twenty two aircraft and hear the pilots, that included Paul R. Braniff, promote the benefits of commercial aviation. The Oklahoma cities of Altus, Miami, and Guthrie, built airports specifically for air tour usage. The Tour was operated again in 1929, but the onslaught of the Depression ended any further air races.
At the time, the airline was very involved with the National Transcontinental air race.
In April, 1929 the company was sold to Aviation Corporation of America or AVCO, the predecessor of American Airlines, Inc.
In 1929, Paul Revere Braniff left the United States to go to Mexico to help someone build a struggling Mexican airline company (apparently this person was Alberto Braniff, but no evidence of this, nor of Alberto Braniff being related to the American Braniff brothers, has ever been reported). In November of that year, Paul R. Braniff, Inc., had merged with Universal Airlines, to become a real airline company, acquiring that airline's planes and setting up headquarters in St. Louis. In April, 1929 the company was sold to Aviation Corporation of America or AVCO, the predecessor of American Airlines, Inc.
Paul Revere Braniff remained in Mexico until 1930.
Braniff Airways, Inc.
While in Mexico, he gained airline industry expertise. He returned to the United States with innovative ideas for a new Braniff, including the use of faster aircraft that he knew would help the airline by bringing quicker turn-around times and, as a consequence, enable the airline to carry more passengers.
Paul R. Braniff headed to Washington, D.C. in 1934, being called to testify before the congress, which was heading an investigation against air mail services. Paul R. Braniff returned to St. Louis with a contract for Braniff Airlines to carry mail, the first time the airline had obtained an airmail contract.
Paul R. Braniff then set on exploring new markets for the company that bore his last name. In 1936, Mr. Braniff headed to Brazil, and he returned to St. Louis convinced that Braniff would do great economically if established in South America. The carrier was awarded a 7719-mile route from the Mainland US to far South America in 1946 with service beginning in 1948. Braniff Airways, Inc. began doing business as Braniff International Airways with the beginning of South America service.
Paul Braniff had been running the day-to-day operations of the airline but decided to leave the carrier in 1935. Mr. Braniff was replaced by Charles Edmund Beard who would eventually become the President of Braniff Airways in 1954.
Intending to retire from aviation, Paul Braniff sold the airline to his brother Tom. It was after Paul Revere Braniff left that Braniff International Airways became a major player in United States-South America travel and vice versa, as Braniff International Airways began daily flights to various points in that continent and to Europe after the jet era began, with their distinctive livery that included many colors not seen before on aircraft fuselages.
Braniff Engineering Corporation
Paul Revere Braniff went to Oklahoma to try to work as a mechanic, and he established the Braniff Engineering Corporation. That company was the first one to introduce the Lennox Air Conditioners and heating systems in Oklahoma.
World War II
Then 44 years old, Paul R. Braniff was re-called into military service as the United States entered World War II, in 1941. Paul Revere Braniff would fly aircraft, this time with the Army's ninth air troop carrier command, in England. But, after his second service in the military was over, so was his flying career.
Later years and death
He later worked for the Douglas Company. in Los Angeles, as an advisor. He decided to move to Oklahoma, where he worked another aviation-related company as salesman, selling used aircraft parts to customers.
Paul Revere Braniff was diagnosed with cancer later in his life, and he went on to spend his last couple of years relatively inactive. Expected to survive his cancer, Mr. Braniff suffered a cold in the summer of 1954, which later turned into a pneumonia. He had surgery to correct the pneumonia, but the surgery aggravated his cancer disease, He died on June 1, 1954, from complications of cancer that his doctors stated was directly connected with his pneumonia and resulting surgery.
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