Monday, December 10, 2012

From Standard Air to T&WA

Jack Frye's Standard Airlines begins operations in November, 1927 sporting FOKKER Tri-Motor, 10 passenger aircraft. Phillips 66 was the fuel of choice and co-sponser of the new airline.

Above, some early facts of the new Air-Rail service.

On March 30, 1929, Standard Air Lines suffered its first (and only) fatal accident when pilot Del Everitt and three passengers were killed in a Fokker F-VIIA-3m version 12-passenger monoplane. The Los Angeles Examiner described this as Southern California's worst air disaster. This occurred on the departure out of Los Angeles in the San Gorgonio Pass.

By March 30, 1930, Western Air and Express had "taken-over" Aero Corp/Standard through controlling stock purchases. Twelve shares of Aero Corp/Standard stock were exchanged for one WAE. What is a credit to Jack Frye's leadership was that the original $50,000 subscribed to form the corporation in February 1926 was now worth (on paper) $2,500,000. It had been his policy not to pay annual dividends; all profits were reinvested to modernize the fleet and expansion operations. Frye was now on WAE's Board of Directors and Chief of Operations.

The Los Angeles Examiner reads: "Converting a oldtime movie studio into airplane hangar and carving an oiled runway through a wheat field on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Western Air Lines in 1926 began operations from Vail Field. Five little Douglas M-2 biplanes, like craft in photo, made up the first fleet of the nation's oldest airline carrier.

Postmaster General Walter F. Brown had his own ideas on how new airmail route contracts would be awarded which resulted in the infamous "Spoils Conferences" with certain airline executives. Brown ordered the merger and terms between WAE, TAT-Maddux and Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corp. The new T&WA was formed and began service in October 1930 on the "central route" from Newark to Burbank.

This was the end of Aero Corp's activities although the property was carried on WAE's books as an asset for several more years. Frye was elected VP-Operations of the new T&WA, later to be called TWA.

Jack Frye and first wife Debbie Greer Frye

Debbie Greer Frye, Jacks first wife was a great cheerleader and co-worker with her forward thinking husband during the formative years of his airline operations. She is known to have performed many supportive tasks around the airport grounds planning and coordinating activites for the flying schools, parties for dignitaries and promoting Aero Corp and Standard Airlines in Southern California. Debbie was an aviation pioneer in her own right that helped her husband towards the advancement of airline growth on the west coast.

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