Saturday, August 31, 2013

Constellation coming Back for Service!

JACK FRYE announces the return of the Connie to full service with new improvements including, new fuel injected engines.

Formerly the TWA Skyliner, now the new TWA Starliner Magazine
Images courtesy WHMCKC

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Disaster grounds the Constellation!

Of all airliners ever built in America, the career of the "Constellation" has to be amongst the most colorful. A more beautiful airliner was never built, with its sensuously curved fuselage and superb streamlining. It simply looked like something futuristic, fast, exciting and beautiful!

As the first pressurized airliner in widespread use, the Constellation helped to usher in affordable and comfortable air travel. Operators of Constellations included first, TWA, then Eastern Air Lines, Pan American World Airways, Air France, BOAC, KLM, Qantas, Lufthansa, Iberia Airlines, Panair do Brasil, TAP Portugal, Trans-Canada Air Lines (later renamed Air Canada), Aer Lingus, VARIG, Cubana de Aviación and Línea Aeropostal Venezolana.

Then something happened to the Constellation that interrupted its flight course...

The Constellation had two accidents in the first 6 months of service, temporarily curtailing its career as a passenger airliner.

  • On June 18, 1946, an engine of a Pan American Constellation caught fire and fell off. The flight crew made an emergency landing with no loss of life. The same aircraft made a return flight across America in 11½ hours for repairs using only three engines.
  • On July 11, 1946, a Transcontinental and Western Air Star of Lisbon fell victim to an in-flight fire, crashing in a field and taking the lives of five of the six on board.

The accidents prompted the suspension of the Constellation's airworthiness certificate until Lockheed could modify the design.

Electrical Problems:

'Star of Lisbon' NC86513

TWA Constellation Star of Lisbon was the no.3 Connie off the assembly line of which during a training flight at Reading Municipal Airport, PA., experienced a cockpit fire shortly after take-off at 3,000 ft elevation. The cause of the accident was determined to be at least one of the generator lead-through studs in the fuselage skin of the forward baggage compartment. Intense local heating of the stud assembly made of dissimilar metals resulted from electrical arching causing the aircraft insulation to ignite, filling the cockpit with heavy smoke to where the flight crew were unable to navigate the aircraft to a safe landing killing 5 of the 6 crewmen on board. The accident ultimately grounded all Constellations with all airlines.

Initial news release

The wreckage

Needless to say, this was a very serious matter for not only TWA and the grounding of its brand new fleet of Constellations, and other airline companies, but a very sad day for the families that lost their loved ones. As a result of the grounding by the Civil Aeronautics Board, Jack Frye's company and Lockheed went into overdrive to remedy the situation to instill confidence with the flying public.

 A letter from the President:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jack Frye reelected TWA President for13th Year

On April 25, 1946, Jack Frye was re-elected TWA President for a record 13th consecutive year. He was only 42 years old. By this time in his career he had navigated the company to great heights and many notable firsts as the worldwide leader of airline travel. A global way of life impact rarely if ever seen even in modern times today. The only real comparison I can think of is the introduction and explosion of the first real personal computer by IBM in 1973 called the SCAMP. From then on the rest is history, just like air travel when Jack Frye, Paul Richter and Walt Hamilton worked the dusty Burdett Field in 1925 in those rickety and cumbersome Fokker's.

Yes, Jack Frye to this point had seen it all and done it all. We owe a great debt of thanks and remembrance to this man and his team of pioneers at TWA for expanding mankind's vision to frontiers beyond where one could never have imagined prior. Oh sure, someone else would have come along and threaded a path to airline greatness sometime during the early 20th century, but I dare say it would not have come close to the purposed bravado and success in the big way Jack Frye pioneered. He did it his way, the Frye way...
Below is a company memo in April 1946 of the Flying Presidents thoughts and leadership regarding some new challenges as a result of TWA's incredible industry leading progress which came at a large cost... The pioneering airline was about to endure some great challenges even Jack Frye couldn't tame as little did he know, 2-1/2 months later the Constellation, the airliner with all the hope of TWA's bright future  upon its wings would be grounded nationwide! Could it be that lucky 13 was about to turn - unlucky?

A positive, forward thinking letter from the President:
Images courtesy WHMCKC

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Airline Memorabilia Show @ LAX

Today I went to the LAX Airline Memorabilia show held at Embassy Suites, immediately south of the LAX runway. Watching the Jumbos take off from my car was quite fun! I was excited to see some vintage collectables and meet some new folks in the airline world, I was like a kid in a candy store, literally! What a great showing of all kinds of airline fruit such as pilots and stewardess wings, posters, photographs, baggage labels, the list goes on and on. The highlight of the show for me though was meeting some new people.

I had the privilege to meet a TWA original, Mr. Jon Proctor with whom we have corresponded with each other online. Jon traveled all the way from Idaho and is a wealth of historical information, and is completely up to date with all things airlines. His booth seemed to be packed all the time I was there, he's such a nice gentleman. We had a very nice conversation about Jack Frye and Jon's friend, Ed Betts for which I thanked Jon in person for the image he donated to the blog. Its people like Jon Procter that make hunting for vintage airline stuff and stories so enjoyable. Thanks Jon for taking the time to talk. I'm so glad we were finally able to meet handshake to handshake.

Secondly, I met a gentleman who seemed to attract a lot of attention either due to his magnetic personality, or from being the first big table one passed by when entering the venue, Mr. Marshall Pumphrey. Marshall is the President and Curator of the Long Beach Heritage Museum and is he full of stories. I introduced myself, gave him a Jack Frye blog card and he took a double take which is the usual response I enjoy seeing on folks faces lol. I told him who I was and we hit it right off venturing back to the old days of TWA, United and Pan AM. It was quite a pleasant introduction and it seems he is a very busy man traveling all over the country. Thanks Marshall.

I have attached the cards of these two gentleman should you wish to contact.

All in all I had a great time. I didn't find much of anything related to Jack Frye though there were many books that contained the old Western Air Express, Standard Airlines and Transcontinental & Western Air flight offerings in Almanacs etc. I was actually looking for a set of Standard Airlines pilots wings of which I walked away empty handed. I did see an original crewmember hat badge for T&WA that was quite impressive, but the price just didn't agree with my billfold today lol.

Everybody was very friendly, and eager to talk about the old days. I passed out a few more blog cards, so hopefully more folks will visit and enjoy the history about Jack Frye.

'Three Muskateers' of TWA Together Again

Images courtesy WHMCKC

Since the early days when stick and canvas planes were the standard tools of the trade for Aero Corp and Standard Airlines, these three gentleman, Hamilton, Frye and Richter had a common bond and determination to build a company the flying public would have full confidence in, and experience a travel mode second to none. Glamour, comfort and safety were these pioneers normal way of doing business and they did it better than any other during the pioneering era of the 1920's.
Later, Walt Hamilton served in the USNR and as an executive with Douglas Aircraft, and Paul Richter served as assistant chief of staff of the Naval Air Transport service. The three reunited in 1945 with TWA as the original trio again with old friend, pilot and president, Jack Frye. Resumption of business and forward thinking from the top with the Three Musketeers running the show infused excitement and a positive outlook to the future throughout the company. TWA employee's loved The Three Musketeers and they loved their employees. They were glad to be back together again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jack Frye Receives Italian High Award

The "Order of the Grand Officer of the Crown of Italy" is awarded to Jack Frye in May of 1945 from Ambassador Alberto Tarchiani for Frye's leadership in restoring air service within Italy. This is just one of many awards and accolades presented to Frye in his illustrious airline career.