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Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


Ruth M. Reinhold's 1982 book entitled, "Sky Pioneering: Arizona in Aviation History" (University of Arizona Press, Tucson. ISBN 0-8165-0737-6).


Frisco/Western Air Express rail/air link source is the Springfield-Greene County Library, Springfield, MO.

See this link for a biography of Frye written upon his enshrinement at the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1992.

See this link for additional information on Jack Frye, especially as it relates to Standard Air Lines.


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Jack Frye was a frequent visitor to the Davis-Monthan Airfield. He landed here 22 times between 1926 and 1929. He was born on March 18, 1904 in Texas. Before, during and after his travels to Tucson, he led a grand life in aviation. Check this link to verify this, and to see family pictures.

In 1921, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was discharged the following year as a corporal. He joined the reserves, and in 1925 was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve. He earned Transport pilot certificate #933, and held pilot’s license #1 in the state of Arizona. He was an air transport pioneer, founding Standard Air Lines. He was also a pilot of the line, which is what brought him to Tucson 21 times between 1926 and 1929.

His record of landings at the Airfield include four different makes of aircraft as follows:

Airplane Manufacturer Registration Number        
Alexander Eaglerock 2793 NC3809 NC3786 7486 NC6365 NC6376
Boeing 7424          
Buhl NC3763          
Fokker NC3193 NC3317 NC4453 NC8011 NC9724  


Standard Air Lines began in Los Angeles, CA as a subsidiary of Aero Corporation of California, which was formed in 1926 by William John “Jack” Frye (center in photo) and two associates (Paul E. Richter, left and Walter Hamilton). Richter and Hamilton were not only co-founders with Frye of Aero Corp. and Standard Airlines. Informally known as the "Three Musketeers", they maintained a career-long work and social bond, forming TWA during the 1930s and setting the specifications and standards for commercial air transport over the following decades.

“Aero”, as it was called, was a distributor for Eaglerock airplanes, with sales of sixty planes in the first year of operation (Reinhold, p. 152). Aero also offered flight training and charter flights. During the summer of 1927, Frye made several goodwill flights to Phoenix and Tucson, assessing the need for aerial passenger and freight services. In September, Aero acquired a freight contract with the American Express Company, and Frye made his final survey flight on November 15. On November 28, 1927, Standard Air Lines began operations as Arizona’s first inter- and intrastate scheduled air carrier. It eventually started a rail link at El Paso, TX to carry passengers farther east by train. The following Texas news article announces this new, short-lived service.

ARLINGTON JOURNAL, Friday February 1, 1929   



"In recognition of the increasing demand for unified rail-air passenger transportation as a time-saving factor in transcontinental travel, and in keeping with its progressive program along other lines, the Texas and Pacific Railway has entered an agreement with the Standard Air Lines, Incorporated, which will enable passengers using its trains to and from El Paso to fly between that point and Los Angeles, Calif., Phoenix, Tucson and Douglas, Arizona.

"The new service will start on Monday, February 4th.  The first westbound plane will start from El Paso and the first eastbound plane will start from Los Angeles on that date.

"This will be the first regular trans-continental rail and air passenger to and from California.  Single motor Fokker Cabin Planes, seating six and eight persons, will be used.  New ships have just been received from the factory, and have been built with every consideration for the comfort and convenience of the passengers, including warmth, ventilation, observation windows, luxury chairs, lavatories, etc., and will be manned by Transport Licensed Pilots measuring up in every respect to the requirements of Commerce regulations.

"A limited amount of baggage will be handled for each passenger.  Trunks will be handled by express between El Paso and destination.

"Representatives of the Railway and plane companies will give personal attention to passengers at El Paso, thus making the trip a simple transfer from train to plane and vice versa.  Taxicabs will transfer passengers between the air field and the Railway station."

Interestingly, Standard was not the only company interested in air/rail connections. This one-page article, from the November, 1929 issue of The Frisco Employee's Magazine (p.4; PDF 190KB) describes a similar link between Western Air Express and Frisco Lines that connected Jacksonville, FL with Los Angeles, CA in 47 hours (source, left sidebar).

Standard Air Lines remained in business for about 30 months. Jack Frye, as well as being a co-founder of the company, was also an active pilot of the line. Because of the Great Depression, Frye and his associates sold the airline to Western Air Express in March 1930. Concomitant with the sale, Frye joined Western Air Express on the Board of Directors and as Chief of Operations.

He was at the time probably the youngest aviation corporation executive. His experience, however, belied his age. In his flying career to-date, he flew more than 60 types of aircraft in the United States, Canada and Mexico. He made over a dozen transcontinental flights. He was also an airframe and engine mechanic.

After Standard Air Lines was purchased, Frye, along with Charles Lindbergh and some others, were tasked to evaluate and order a modern airliner according to Transcontinental and Western Air’s (eventually TWA) specifications. This led to the prototype DC-1 produced by Douglas. At the end of 1934, Frye was elected president of TWA, and Paul Richter was made VP Operations.

Although WWII intervened, Frye worked with Howard Hughes and Lockheed to produce the 300 MPH Constellation. On April 17, 1944, he and Hughes set a new cross-country speed record of six hours and 58 minutes in the Constellation. There is an often-shown film clip of Frye and Hughes stepping out of the Constellation after setting that record.

Soon after, Frye and Richter resigned from TWA and Frye became president of General Aniline and Film Corporation. He resigned from General Aniline in 1955 to form a new aircraft manufacturing company to produce a STOL airframe called the Safari, based on the Helio Courier design. Ironically, Jack Frye died in 1959 in a two-car accident at the intersection of Palo Verde Blvd. and Ajo Way in Tucson, very near the entrance to the old airport. He was age 54 (Tucson Star Citizen, 1959).

The excellent photograph below from 1929 shows most of the key players of the short-lived Standard Air Lines, including our pilot Jack Frye (left-most).

Standard Airlines Personnel, 1929

Left to right, President of Standard Air Lines Jack Frye, Pilot William Kingsley, Chief Pilot Hap Russell, Vice President Operations Walter Hamilton (signed the Register three times as a passenger), Pilot Johnnie Martin, Pilot Donald Cornell (did not sign the Register), Pilot Harold Kelsey and Vice President & General Manager Paul Richter, Jr. Officer Richter was also a pilot of the line. The airplane is a Fokker trimotor, probably the one the company called "The Arizonan". Note the automobile at rear (anybody know the make/model?) with fire extinguisher and observer. Photo loaned to us by Ruth Richter Holden, daughter of Paul. See her Web site about her father here.

UPLOADED: 9/9/05 REVISED: 01/03/06, 01/17/08, 06/19/12

The Register
I'm looking for information and photographs of the airplanes in black in the table at left to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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