Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Compassionate President

One of the most revealing character traits a person can display and be remembered for all time, is ones active compassion towards his fellow man. This is often overlooked and even purposely avoided in big business in order to save money and or ones skin. It usally comes down to economics to keep the shareholders happy with their bottom line. But in this case not with Jack Frye...
This excerpt from Robert Serlings book - Howard Hughes Airline, An Informal History of TWA, beautifully captures the essence of Jack Frye and his regard for his employees during a time of great difficulty during the great depression. When I first read this it nearly floored me, and made me very proud that Jack would extend himself to the point of making his employees more important than himself and those shareholders. Try to imagine the committment he made and see if you would make the same decision Jack Frye did. I for one know it would have been a monumental decision, but something tells me Jack Frye's visionary talent and sheer confidence kicked in again as it had so many times before, and, I believe it, that is his compassion and deep caring about employees and airline progress as a whole, made it an easy decision to go ahead and move forward with the large Douglas contract investment against all odds. I'm thankful he did as without this key decision, I am quite confident the path ahead for TWA would have affected its future growth in a negative way.
And with this landmark decision by Jack Frye, we will move forward into the DC Aircraft era of TWA.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jack Frye - The "Kid-Magnate"

This Arizona Daily Star article is very revealing of Jack Frye's visionary traits and dedication to the early airline industry.

At just age 25, in this article, Jack Frye addresses the Pima County Bar Association about the future of aviation in the Southwest. He refers to aviation as a "good substitute to the fountain of youth." His vision of transporting passengers up to 20 per plane, and businessmen being able to travel all the way from El Paso to Los Angeles is ground breaking news for 1927. He also emphasises passenger safety during a time when the public were very reluctant to board a flying machine. Safety was a hallmark of Standard Airlines having flown over 37,000 miles the prior five years without incident. Jack was quite a salesman as well as a respected and highly experienced pilot that could back up what he said in front of serious legal professionals.

Right click on the image to see full size.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Standard Airlines News Clips - 1929

Baggade tag image courtesy David Kusrow

Here is a collection of news articles on the Air-Rail route Jack Frye's Standard Airlines established. They go into great detail on the new service and its advantages to its city stops along the way.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ed Betts on Aero Corp & Standard Airlines

Mr. Ed Betts, retired TWA pilot and aviation historian now deceased, produced what I think is the best accounting of Jack Frye's Aero Corp and Standard Airlines that I know of. It was this article that really set me off into the study of these pioneering airlines and the seeded desire to know about my cousin, Nevajac Frye's father. My father being a reader of great depth and ferocity had one day in the 90's sent me a copy of the AAHS Journal volume 39, number 3 (Fall 1994) of which after reading the Betts article, I was set on a new flight path of both aviation and family history.

The stand alone page link below gets you to the Ed Betts article in full. Right click on the images when you get there to view in full size for best reading enjoyment. Eric

L-R: Paul Richter, 'Tommy' Tomlinson, Jack Frye, Walter Hamilton

Click here for the Ed Betts article.

Many thanks to the AAHS Journal for allowing the Jack Frye blog to post this work online.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

TWA history overview in Line Squalls, 1933

For our first post utilizing documents provided by the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center, Kansas City (SHSMRC), I am installing volume 2, no. 2 issue of 'Line Squalls', an anniversary suppliment issue that addresses the history of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. We have already posted T&WA history early in the blog, but I wanted to share what that companies president in 1933, Mr. Richard Robbins had to say regarding the combined efforts and interest of three key companies namely, Western Air Express (WAE), Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) and Pittsburgh Aviation Industries (PAI). By June of 1933, there were over 600,000 stockholders invested in the corporation. One year later vice president Jack Frye would be voted in as the youngest (31) president ever of an airline company of the newly named company, TWA as a result of the foundation established by these companies. But more importantly, for his vision of airline advancement in the 20th century.

Right click on images to view full size.
page 1
page 2

Thursday, January 17, 2013

TWA Publications on the Blog

Many thanks to Mr. David Butros, assistant director of the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center, Kansas City. The Jack Frye blog is cleared to post original copies and excerpts of the TWA ‘Skyliner’ magazine as well as TWA Speed and Line Squalls! This is a huge source of internal historical TWA company articles, photos and workings with Jack as its president. Now we have documentation of many topics surrounding Jacks running of the company and I am very happy the Jack Fry blog can now begin sharing many pertinent articles associated with our favorite TWA president in their original format. Below is a synopsis of the contributors of the digitization project.


This Project to microfilm and digitize the TWA magazines would not be possible without the generous support of Donors. Also important are the contributions of the magazine issues as gifts or loans from a number of individuals and organizations including first and foremost the TWA Museum (with the Platte County, MO, Historical Society), but also from Ona Gieschen, Ken Juergens, June Kisker, Alice Miller, Jon Proctor, Diane Reinhardt, Dave Richards, Busch Voigts, and the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum. Thanks too for the scanning of the original papers that have been professionally and carefully done by the staff of Western Blue under the director of Vince Pingel, Director of the Document Automation Division. Last, a special acknowledgement of Marie Trainer of the TWA Museum and especially Ona Gieschen who has coordinated finding missing issues and soliciting donations.
The late Ed Betts, respected historian and collector of TWA's history, deserves mention as an inspiration to the digital publication of the TWA Skyliners.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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Fokker Trimotor & Standard Airlines

Design and development:

In 1925, while living in the US, Anthony Fokker heard of the inaugural Ford Reliability Tour, which was proposed as a competition for transport aircraft. Fokker had the company's head designer, Reinhold Platz, convert a single-engined F.VII A airliner (a 1924 Walter Rethel design) to a trimotor configuration powered by 200 hp Wright Whirlwind radial engines. The resulting aircraft was designated the Fokker F.VII A/3M. Following shipment to the US, it won the Ford Reliability Tour in late 1925. The Trimotor's structure comprised a fabric-covered steel tubing fuselage, and a plywood-skinned wooden wing. The Fokker F.VII B/3M had a slightly increased wing area over the A/3M, with power increased to 220 hp per engine, while the F.10 was slightly enlarged, carrying 12 passengers in an enclosed cabin. The aircraft became popularly known as the Fokker Trimotor.

Operational history:

The 8- to 12-passenger Fokker was the aircraft of choice for many early airlines, both in Europe and the Americas. Along with the similar Ford Trimotor, itself having an all-metal design based on the World War I aircraft designs of German engineer Hugo Junkers, it dominated the American market in the late 1920s. However, the popularity of the Fokker quickly came to an end after the 1931 death of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne in the crash of TWA Flight 599, a Fokker F.10. The subsequent investigation, which revealed problems with the Fokker's plywood-laminate construction, resulted in the temporary banning of the aircraft from commercial flights, more stringent requirements for its maintenance, and the rise of all-metal aircraft such as the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2.  (source wikipedia)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Northrop ALPHA 2D

Transcontinental & Western Air was the launch customer and ordered 5 Alpha 2D versions. These aircraft began services on April 20, 1931 from San Francisco to New York with 13 intermediate stops. The entire trip took just over 23 hours.

The Alpha had a multi cellular wing of stressed skin construction. New aerodynamic wing fillets and other cutting edge design features were installed on this aircraft. It was also first commercial type to be equipped with rubber deicer boots. A total of 17 Alphas were produced by Northrop.
TWA serial number 8, 1931

This photo shows the side entrance and forward passenger
compartment of the Alpha

Alpha 2D, NC947V with early Transcontinental & Western Air
markings on the fuselage.

A nice view of the Northrop Alpha 2D, NC11Y after restoration. For a complete history of this airplane please click this link.

Dimensions: Wingspan: 13.4 m (41 ft 10 in)
Length: 8.7 m (28 ft 5 in)
Height: 2.7 m (9 ft)
Weight, gross: 2,043 kg (4,500 lb)
Weight, empty: 1,208 kg (2,660 lb)
Top speed: 272 km/h (170 mph)

Jack Frye - High Flyer

Jack Frye as we know was a top flyer in the country that could easily fit in the company of Rickenbacker, Lindbergh, Fokker and in more modern times, Yeager & Doolittle. In the airline industry, Jack was the leader, the trail blazer, the one man that singlehandidly transformed aviation into a commercial passenger travel enterprise as non ever seen on the globe since. One of the ways he 'led the way' was his deep desire and skill to go where no other went before.

This clipping donated by Mr. Frye's daughter, Nevajac Frye, is just one example of Jack Frye in action climbing into his Northrop GAMMA for some high elevation testing that paved the way to 'overweather flying before any other.' Jack loved the pioneering challenges set before him because he invisioned the need, and he was completely freed from any restaints while in the cockpit.

As related to the constant danger of high-flying, Jack Frye has been quoted as stating - 'The Danger is on the Ground.' Hauntingly true as Jack's life was tragically taken by a drunk driver while driving home from work! He was 55.

An important item of note. Though this image isn't clear, one can see that Jack is well dressed underneath his flying gear. You can pick out his dress shoes, pinstriped pants and his overall office attire appearance. Jack flew his Northrop Gamma all over the country on business hops. He would leave from any number of locations at speed up to 250mph, and land to have a meeting with associates or Senators in D.C., then off again to his next destination. They called him 'The Flying President' in which he was surely glad to oblige. More later on Frye and his Gamma travels.

Below an LA Times news clipping about Jack Frye and Paul Richter setting a 4 mile high record in 1929! A remarkable feat given the technology of the day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

First US Air-Rail Service

In the collection of Standard Airlines brochures I received from Daniel Kusrow, herin lays an historic copy of Volume 1, Number 1 issue of the Standard Airlines newsletter. As you can read on the headline, it announces the first ever Transcontinental Air-Rail service route in the US! This is the beginning of a large dream Jack Frye had envisioned early in his illustrious career paving the way to what would become TWA.

Points of destination included Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Douglas Arizona and El Paso Texas. The inaugrural openning of the new service was February 4, 1929, just prior to the horrible US stock market crash later in October of this year. From New York, passengers traveled by rail on the Texas & Pacific Line to St. Louis, then connected with a Ford Tri-Motor to Sweetwater Texas. Then jumped on the 'Sunshine Special' train to El Paso. Jack Frye's Standard Airlines would then take over and fly the passengers to Los Angeles. All in all the Standard Airlines Air-Rail service cut a whopping 16 hours off the trek's travel time to 47 hours!

Here is an early video series that covers a 48 hour flight of what this post is referreing to, and in original B&W footage. How far we have come... Enjoy the show.

Videos provided by twaladybug

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Standard Airlines artistic Postcards

A big thanks again to Daniel Kusrow of Airline Timetable Images for donating hard copies of these great and artistic Standard Airlines postcards to the 'Jack Frye - Aviation Pioneer' blog. They really represent the style and mood of the times in an artful and attractive way of advertising that has unfortunately been lost in our modern era.

These 1929 era postcards detailing the Los Angeles and El Paso route schedules make me want to go take a hop on Standard Airlines! Bright colors and a vintage flavor set these advertisements apart from the competition. A trait Jack Frye and his crew diligently pursued in all facets to growing their ground breaking airline of the 20's.

Click on images for larger view.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Tony Fokker admires Jack Frye

This image provided by Jack Frye's daughter, Nevajac Frye, is a gesture of admiration from Tony Fokker, owner of Fokker Aircraft Company of America, founded 1927. The plane designation in the photo is NC9724.
Mr. Fokkers gesture reads:
To Jack Frye,
Once my first agent (1926), then my best customer, now my most admired friend in transport aviation field. My best wishes for further increase.
Tony Fokker
May 1938

Anthony FOKKER 1890-1939

Richter breaks 18,000 ft record

November 7, 1926. A new milestone breaking the 18,000 foot record at Clover Field, Santa Monica, California. Who was the record breaker? Paul Richter, the young man shown getting a check up and of whom Jack Frye taught to fly! Jack is second from left. Old man Burdetts field was a hub of activity during this period with flying schools, cargo and mail transport traffic and numerous flying contests pushing the aviation envelope in all manner of flying fun and daring.

Jack Frye in BOYS LIFE Magazine

Images from BOYS LIFE Magazine, 1935

Our Aviation Pioneer Mr. Jack Frye was literally on a mission at the dawn of American aviation, Smart, savvy, on top of his game and one of the best pilots in the world having masterfully flown over 60 different aircraft in his flying career. This full page spread appeared in BOYS LIFE Magazine, November 1935 on page 51.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Northrop GAMMA 2-D

Jack Frye was very actively involved with any number of cutting edge developments in air travel, equipment improvements and actual flying research that would put his companies in front of the competition. He was both a savvy businessman, organizer as well as a hands-on flyer that required first person analysis of his airplane fleet. This attention to all of what was required by a leading aviation operation at the time was Jacks calling through and through. His attention to safety is historic and well documented on equipment specifications that are still applied in todays modern air travel. The flight of the GAMMA 2-D above states his dedication to exploring new trails for the advancement of air and cargo travel.

Burdett Field - 1920's

Some very early photos of Burdett Field at 9401 So. Western Avenue, later Burdett Airlines in which Jack Frye was able to purchase and begin his historic march toward Airline history. All of this beginning in Southern California, what is now called Inglewood. Miss Hughston above probably flew Jacks Standard Airlines into Burdett Field to do her shopping in LA, then fly back to Tuscon.

The old field as shown today in 2013. The building with the white frontal area, the Jesse Owens public pool is presumed to be the location of one of the original hangers. Boy if Jack could see his old piece of land now! More on Burdett field coming.