Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18: John Cobb Cooper, Jr.

John Cobb Cooper, Jr.
September 18, 1887 - July 22, 1967

John Cobb Cooper, Jr. was an American jurist, airline executive and presidential advisor.

From 1927–34 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Florida State Bar Association Law Journal. He was appointed to the International Technical Committee of Legal Aerial Experts, 1932–34. He became Vice President of Pan American Airways 1934–45, serving on the board of directors 1944–46. In 1947 he served as a consultant to the U.S. President's Air Policy Commission. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, 1945–50. In 1952 he was awarded his LL.D. from McGill University. From 1951–57 he was professor of International Air Law at McGill University, becoming the first director of the Institute of International Air Law, after which he was named Professor Emeritus.

He was the author of the book "The Right to Fly" and pioneered legal thought on air/space rights of man-made satellites in orbit, commencing with the launch of Sputnik in October 1957 when asked by President Eisenhower to render a legal opinion on "flyover rights" when Sputnik was orbiting over the United States. His honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, Princeton University, declared him the "Father of Air Space Law."

He was the legal counsel to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) from the early 1950s through the end of his life.

He was a pioneer in the field of international law as it applied to air and space. He wrote the first article on the topic of space ownership, "High Altitude Flight and National Sovereignty," in 1951.

His younger brother was movie producer Merian C. Cooper, perhaps most famous for the creation of the movie King Kong in 1933, and whose position as a Director of Pan Am was responsible for recommending his older brother for the position of Pan Am's legal consel and Vice President.

He flew with Charles Lindbergh, a consultant for PanAm, in small aircraft on site surveys to select sites in Ireland (Shannon) and France (Orly) for airports as Pan Am's services overseas increased.

The crater Cooper on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor.

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