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Many thanks to Ruth Richter Holden and daughter Susan Holden Walsh for providing the quoted biographical sketch and images on this page. Images and texts used with their permission.

Their website about Paul Richter can be found here.

A video interview with Ruth Richter Holden is at the EAA Timeless Voices of Aviation Web site here. This is a warm and personal perspective from a daughter for her father, one of the founders of Standard Air Lines, and ultimately of Trans World Airlines. She discusses Register pilots Jack Frye, Tommy Tomlinson, Larry Fritz and others.


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


Below, Aero Corporation of California logo.

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"BIOGRAPHY: Paul E. Richter, Jr., Aviation Pioneer, Co-Founder, TWA
Copyright 2005, by Susan Holden Walsh

Paul Richter, 1927

A true pioneer during the "Golden Age" of flying, Paul E. Richter played a decisive role in creating and building all aspects of commercial aviation and military air transport. From stunt pilot with Hollywood's famous Thirteen Black Cats to flight instructor to TWA co-founder and NATS Chief of Staff, Operations during World War II, Richter soared high in his 53 short years.

Born: January 20, 1896, Paul Ernest Richter, Jr., Denver, Colorado, to Margaret and Paul E. Richter, Sr.

Died: May 15, 1949, Berkeley, California

Childhood: Early years through high school in Denver, Colorado, Graduated Manual (Training) High in 1913, and subsequently moved to and managed the family ranch in Wiggins (Morgan County), Colorado.

College: Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now Colorado State University), 1914-15

Family: Married Daisy Cooke Richter, 1926, d. 1998, son, Paul E. Richter, b. 1930, d. 1998, daughter, Ruth Richter Holden, b. 1934

Pre-flying Career: In the early 1920's, tried his hand at ranching during the start of the "Dust Bowl," spent time as a "cub" reporter for the Denver Post, and worked in his father's advertising business, but heard the call of flying and saw a future in aviation.

25-year Aviation Career: Earned Pilot's License #309 and Air Transport License #501. Began as Pilot and Flight Instructor, Burdett Field, Los Angeles, CA, 1925-26. One of first Air Sheriffs in the world when sworn in by LA County Sheriff Dept., 1926. Air Race Ace and Winner as well as double altitude record holder, 1925-29. Charter Member, "Thirteen Black Cats" Hollywood stunt flying group, 1925-29.

Aircraft Flown by Richter Included: Jenny (JN4D, JHN), Thomas-Morse, OX-5 Eaglerock, OX-5 Standard, J-5 Eaglerock, OX Thunderbird, J4 and J5 Fokker Universal, Wasp Fokker Universal, Kinner Fleet, Hornet Fokker F-VII, Wasp Fokker F-10 Tri-motor, Daris, Monocoach, Fokker F-10-A, Northrup Alpha, Stearman J5, Ford 4 & 5AT, Fokker F-14, Lockheed Vega, Fleetster (Hornet), Northrup Alpha (Wasp), Lockheed Orion, Douglas DC-1, Northrup Gamma (Cyclone F-3), Douglas DC-2 (Cyclone F-3), DC-3, DC-4, L-12A, Stratoliner, Boeing 307, Constellation, all multi-engine military air transport planes and all commercial planes thru 1949.

Aero Corporation of California: Co-Founder with Jack Frye and Walter Hamilton, Aero Corporation of California (managed nationally certified flight schools, nationally accredited maintenance and repair facility, aeronautical design, sight-seeing flights, cross-country charter services), 1926. Vice President and General Manager of Aero Corporation and General Manager of Standard Flying School, 1926-30.

Standard Airlines/TWA: Co-Founder with Jack Frye of Standard Airlines, which became TWA (Standard Airlines merged with Western Air Express in 1930 and later Transcontinental Air Transport to become Transcontinental & Western Air in 1930), 1927. Vice President, General Manager and Pilot, Standard Airlines, 1928-30.

Hawaiian Airways Ltd.: Founding Director, 1929

Paul Richter, TWA

TWA: Transcontinental & Western Air: TWA Western Regional Operations Manager, 1931-34. TWA Vice President of Operations and Director, 1934-38. TWA Executive Vice President and Director, 1938-43. Richter and Jack Frye regain control of TWA stock, 1939. Took temporary leave from TWA to become Chief of Staff for Operations, US Naval Air Transport, 1942-45. Returned as TWA Executive Vice President, 1945-47. Resigned from TWA in 1947 (three months after Jack Frye left) in dispute with then controlling stockholder, Howard Hughes.

T.A.C.A.: Became Chairman and President of T.A.C.A. Airways of Central and South America, 1947-49.

Military Career:

Army: Joined the Army in 1918 during World War I as a Private, 37th Field Artillery, Camp Lewis, WA. Was literally on the dock waiting to transfer into the air corps when war ended. Graduated Field Artillery Officers Training School at Camp Zachary, KY, 1919. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, US Army Field Artillery Reserve, 1919-34.

Naval Air Transport Service: Reported to Active Duty during WWII, as Lieutenant Commander and Assistant Chief of Staff, Naval Air Transport Service, 1942. Promoted to Captain and Chief of Staff of Operations, Naval Air Transport Service, 1944. Head of the U.S. delegation and President of the International Civil Aviation Conference, Chicago, Nov-Dec. 1944; received accommodation from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and Adolf A.Berle, Jr. Dept. of State for his conference work. Released from active duty, November 1945. Honored with the Legion of Merit, 1946 for his instrumental role in NATS. Served on active duty, March 1948, to establish Military Air Transport through the combining of the Naval Air Transport Service and Air Transport Command; Considered to be a Founder of MATS by Major General Laurence Kuter – Commander of MATS.

Military Medals: Legion of Merit and Letter of Commendation for work with NATS; Naval Reserve Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal.

Aviation and Business Memberships and Affiliations: Quiet Birdmen (inducted 1927); Co-founder and later president, Conquistadores del Cielo; Associate Fellow, Institute of Aeronautical Sciences; Pacific Aviation Club; Reserve Officers Association; American Legion – Aviation Post; The Wings Club, Inc.; Silver Wings; Associate member, Alpha Eta Rho international aviation fraternity; Professional Pilots Association; National Aeronautical (Aviation) Association; N.A.P.A.; LA Chamber of Commerce – Aviation Committee; VP/Director of Aviation, KC Chamber of Commerce; VP/Director, New Mexico Airport Corporation; Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; Companion of the Military Order of the World Wars; Biographical Encyclopedia of the World - under Business Leaders of America, 1939 -, Who's Who in American Aviation, 1939 -, Who's Who in the Western Hemisphere, 1942 -, Who's Who in Transportation & Communication, 1942 -, Who's Who in Commerce & Industry; Kansas City Club; Kansas City Country Club; Indian Hills Country Club, Poor's Register-Top Ranking American Business People, 1948-1949, Noted in "A Chronicle of the Aviation Industry of America," 1948.

Interests, Hobbies, Recreation: Photography, Flying, Fishing, Hunting, Swimming, Horseback Riding, Golf."


Pilot Richter signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register 13 times between 12/21/27 and 10/29/30. His thirteen landings at the Airfield include two different makes of aircraft as follows:

Airplane Manufacturer Registration Number  
Alexander Eaglerock NC6354 NC6376  
Fokker NC3193 NC3317 NC8011

The excellent photograph below from 1929 shows most of the key players of the short-lived Standard Air Lines, including our pilot Paul Richter (far right in the spiffy hat).

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 twice 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. Officers Richter and Frye were also pilots 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.


On the weekend of January 28-29, 2006, your Webmaster visited with Ruth Richter Holden in southern California. This image was taken at her hangar with her prized Lockheed NC18137. This Lockheed was used by TWA for transport, flown by Paul Richter. As a young girl, Ruth remembers flying in the rear starboard seat of this aircraft, with her dad in the cockpit. NC18137 is a model12A, Serial Number 1229, manufactured in 1937. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney model R-985 series engines.

Ruth Richter Holden and Your Webmaster 1/29/06


During our visit, I was able to scan for this site some additional items of interest. They include images, documents and news clippings. Some of them that are relevant to Paul Richter and his flight and business ventures follow.


The headline for the news image below taken November 7, 1926 in front of a big Fokker trimotor, reads,   “Attains Altitude of  18,000 Feet” “This is Paul E. Richter, being presented with silver cup, perpetual trophy, by Mrs Jacques Vinmont, for attaining an altitude of 18,000 feet at the air meet held recently at Clover Field, Santa Monica, Calif. An Eagle Rock plane, with Hisso motor, was used by Richter in his flight.”

He was about 30 years old at the time of this image.

Altitude Record 1926


Below is the facade of the Aero Corporation of California offices, ca. 1929. From comparisons with other photos, the posture of the person standing in the archway on the left might be that of Jack Frye.

Aero Corp. Offices, ca. 1929

And below is a view of the Aero Corporation of California flight line looking at us through one of the

Aero Corp. Flight Line

veranda arches (probably the second or third one from the left?). This image was probably taken some time after the one above, because of the presence of excavated earth near the fence posts and the installation of the gate. Note one of the Alexander Eaglerocks, and what looks like a firehose festooned in the foreground. Note landing aircraft, looking as if it's in a left slip. On the bottom of the image you can see the shadow from the tile roof and water damage to the photo paper.


This is an example of how merging information from the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register and database with available artifacts leads to some interesting detective work. Take this letter, written aloft by Paul Richter to his parents on February 10, 1929, somewhere between Indio and Blythe, CA.

Information in his letter correlates well with Richter's activity at the Tucson Airfield. The letter mentions his itinerary to Denver to pick up an Alexander Eaglerock aircraft for transport back to the Aero Corporation distributorship in Los Angeles. He was to, " a whirlwind job back via El Paso leaving Colo Spgs Thursday morning and El Paso Friday morning with Spence the photographer to shoot pictures all the way across from El paso to L.A....."

In the Register, on (Sunday) February 17, 1929 just after noon, we find him landing at Tucson with Alexander Eaglerock NC6376 ( C/N 748, A-1 model, J-5 engine). His photographer, Robert Spence, mentioned in the letter, is his passenger this day. Undoubtedly this is the westbound ferry flight, albeit running a day or so behind, for this brand new airplane. Hopefully the air was smooth, clear and crisp for their photographic endeavor.

Also, the airliner he was flying in while writing his letter, Fokker F-VI NC7888 is the trimotor "Texan" of Standard Airlines. The "Texan" landed at Tucson four times during January 1929, each time flown by line pilot Hap Russell. About seven weeks after Richter's letter writing flight, NC7888 crashed in fog near Beaumont, CA (on 3/30/29), killing 3 passengers and the pilot. It is clear from the Davis-Monthan Register that the pilot was not Russell on March 30, as he landed at Tucson at least nine more times after March, and well into June 1930.


A week before his "Texan" flight, the following letter was sent to Standard Air Lines via pilot Harold Kelsey. This copy is hard to read, but it welcomes and pledges support for the new Standard Air Lines routing through Douglas, AZ.

SA Douglas Letter 2/4/29


None of what I have read or heard of Paul Richter mentions anything but warmth and appreciation for his comradeship and humanity. For example, this quote from the web by a past TWA employee:

"Paul Richter: A gentleman first, professional always and one of the kindest and cultivated men I have ever known. Believe initially Navy trained in the twenties. .... Died say 1952 [1949, actually] of a heart attack. A wonderful boss and a human being always."

And one of the briefest, most profound, kindest and sincere tokens of gratitude I have ever read follows in a short letter written to him by his friend and business partner, Jack Frye, on the occasion of their 20th anniversary with TWA.

Frye Letter 1946

And, about a year later, Richter's decision to leave TWA elicited this exchange between Richter and executive Tom Braniff.

Braniff Letter

His response.

Richter Response to Braniff

UPLOADED: 6/27/05 REVISED: 01/03/06, 02/07/06, 02/10/06, 02/14/06, 01/17/08, 11/28/08

The Register

I'm looking for information and photographs of Richter and his airplanes to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.




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