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Friday, May 12, 2000

Special to the Star-Bulletin
Charles F. Banfe, a former Pan Am pilot and Hawaii
state handball champion, died March 17 in
Saddlebrooke, Ariz.

Charles F. Banfe,
aviation enthusiast,
dies at 82

More obituaries

By Harold Morse


Charles F. Banfe, a Pan Am pilot whose colorful career included legendary days of flying with the Eagle Squadron of the British Royal Air Force in World War II and also spanned eras from the China Clipper well into the jet age, died March 17 in Saddlebrooke, Ariz. He was 82.

A memorial celebration takes place May 25 at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, Calif., where Banfe was a church elder.

Banfe flew for Pan Am for some 3 decades and often stopped in Honolulu on globe-circling flights. Well known in the islands, he was a Hawaii state handball champion.

He made a record-breaking flight around the world from Honolulu to Honolulu in 1960. In a statehood promotion, he flew a twin-engine aircraft solo in the fastest recorded time for such a global flight -- 8 1/2 days.

He also made other famous flights, accenting Aloha Week festivities in 1958 by taking off in a single-engine plane in an attempt to set a global single-engine solo record. The effort ended after 13 forced landings here and there and one crash landing in a vineyard on Corsica, the island birthplace of Napoleon.

Charles Lindbergh, a Banfe hero, was a 1971 Pan Am passenger of Banfe's on a flight from Bangkok to Beirut. At Banfe's invitation, Lindbergh joined him in the cockpit, and Lindbergh briefly flew the Pan Am jet. Banfe also flew such notables as Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe.

Banfe was born in Chicago. A University of Chicago graduate, his Pan Am base was San Francisco.

For 20 years, he taught courses in business, technology and airline management at Stanford University. Active in business, he was known for buying and selling used airplanes and parts.

Banfe also found time to publish two books. One more is in manuscript.

"He really had a full plate, because he was always doing deals and flying at the same time," said son Nicholas of Kona. "He was a pilot's pilot, you might say."

Banfe also is survived by his wife of 46 years, June; daughters Juli Banfe and Susan Prince; sons Charles Jr. -- of Honolulu -- and Peter; and six grandchildren.

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