1934
Thank You For Visiting Sedona Legend-
The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
This is the official, not to mention only, web portal in the world
dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
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Sedona Legend was envisioned and created to provide Red Rock State Park visitors a
comprehensive historic overview for Jack and Helen Frye and their Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail
Ranches. This effort is now officially cited by R.R.S.P. as an indepth historical venue
representing Jack and Helen Frye.

Sedona Legend is encouraged by the many friends of Jack and Helen Frye. A gracious thank
you to the Frye and Varner families for invaluable support and Red Rock State Park staff and
volunteers for their enthusiasm.

Sedona Legend Helen Frye a.k.a. the Jack and Helen Frye Story
A Decade of Research and Presentation- Created By Randall D. Reynolds
Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved
The TWA Northrop Gamma 2D Story
1.)  NR (X) 13757
2.)  NX NR NC (X) 13758
3.)  NC 13759
The First Two Gammas Served As Official TWA Overweather
Research Ships And Jack Frye Executive Transports
Frye Managed His Airline By Air
Frye Executive Planes From 1930-1947
1934 Northrop Gamma- Frye Transport
The remarkable photograph (above) was gifted to Sedona Legend by Patrick Chateau of the
TWA CDG Website, a Frye image rarely seen. The new TWA Gamma (NX) NR-13757, TWA
fleet #16, S/N #8, was captured at idle, while representing Transcontinental & Western Air at
the 1934 National Air Races, Cleveland Ohio (as notated on the back of the photo in pencil).

The pilot shown is identified as 30-year-old Jack Frye. The rocket-like plane was delivered to
the legendary pilot Frye, personally, and he was the only TWA pilot regularly associated with
this plane. This TWA chief pilot always wore a suit and tie, with fedora, when flying, sometimes
covered with a flight jumpsuit. Jack Frye was known to be a sharp dresser and brought a visual
representation of professionalism to his airline. He never wore a TWA uniform, yet he was the
only airline president of his day to hold a transport license, and flew TWA passenger ships
regularly. Frye was recognized as TWA’s top pilot, the most experienced (from 1923) and had
actually taught many of his associates how to fly years earlier, to include Richter and Hamilton.

The 1934 Northrop Gamma 2-D was a formidable speedster akin to the Howard Hughes H-1
Racer. It appears that Jack's TWA co-founder and good friend Walt Hamilton, an early
Standard Air Lines and T.W.A. mechanical genius is seen with fire extinguisher behind the
plane near the prop. It is no surprise that Walt was the man chosen to maintain Jack's plane
for this event, Hamilton, being one of the foremost airplane mechanics in the country and a
real marvel with aircraft engines. This Gamma was not an official entry in 1934.

It is with deep gratitude I thank Patrick Chateau for donating this original vintage photograph
to the Sedona Legend archive. The Canon scan (above) is of that image from Paris, which
judging by its condition, appears to be an original print from the 1934 and not a reproduction.
Jack's vision of over-weather flight resulted in his assistance and partial credit in the
development of the: Northrop Delta, Gamma, Douglas Commercial series, and pressurized high
altitude above-the-weather airliners like the Boeing Stratoliner, and the Lockheed
Constellation. TWA's involvement with the Northrop Alpha, Orion, and Vega, as in the
"Winnie Mae" can be traced back to the "Frye Vision" as well. Frye himself developed and
launched the Thunderbird early on, and later, the Frye F-1 Safari. He also helped with the
Northrop Raider development.

One of TWA's crack test pilots was Daniel Webb 'Tommy' Tomlinson who served as ‘special
assistant’ to Jack Frye in the 1930's. This fearless man goes down in history as one of the very
best commercial airplane test pilots. But Tomlinson didn't start out with TWA, he was originally
a crack Navy pilot and a member of the Navy aerobatic team 'The Three Sea Hawks" with Lt.
William V. "Bill" Davis and Aaron P. (Putt) Storrs. Tomilinson was known in the Navy as
'Indian Joe'. Captain Tomlinson was responsible for many major breakthroughs in regard to
the atmospheric effects of airplanes and passengers. Tomlinson also at one time worked under
the direction of TWA executive vice-president, Paul E. Richter (both appointed by Frye). Frye
and Richter both at times tested TWA's experimental planes personally. My work documents
Frye associations.

Jack, as head of TWA's Flight Research Program, insisted on a "hands on" involvement and
this kept him abreast of many fine new aircraft innovations which he actively promoted and
implemented into the TWA fleet. Some innovations through the years Jack developed
personally and even held patents on. Frye is documented with a variety of aviation records as
well. As a testament to this record is his induction into Harvard Business Schools "Greatest
American Business Leaders of America". This honor, according to Harvard, is partly due to
Jack's contribution to "high-altitude-flying". Jack also has been inducted into the National
Aviation Hall of Fame with the listing displayed under "Jet Age" yet another example of a
recognition which truly establishes his standing as an aviation “giant”.

However, even with these accolades, I still read the same statement repeated in books and
publications, "Jack Frye has never received adequate credit for the majority of his
contributions to the aviation world". Sadly, this is true and hopefully it is slowly being rectified
with work found on this website and various historical publications. Jack, on the other hand,
was the last one to seek honor and posterity for himself. Rather, he just did what came
naturally to him- develop the world of aviation! His recognition came from those who felt lucky
and honored to have known him and of those who were touched by his accomplishments,
achievements, and stellar leadership! For further reading on Frye's career please see Page 1960.
And Over-The-Weather Flight -Started With Jack Frye
In the mid-1930's Jack Frye was seen arriving and departing often in the Northrop Gamma 2-D
(X-13757 NR-13757, C/N 8, TWA fleet #16) at various airports. This particular Gamma was
delivered personally to Frye in the spring of 1934. It served as his personal executive plane and
also was utilized by him and others for flight research. The Gamma (NR13757) had limited use
as a TWA Express mail service transport, this because at the time Frye ordered the Gammas
for TWA, the airline had recently received the (then new) Douglas Commercials for mail (and
passenger service) thus freeing up the need for the Gammas. Jack as pilot of the Northrop
Gamma (NR13757) regularly flew coast-to-coast attending business meetings in 1934 at an
unheard of 225 m.ph. (per Frye), usually with a load of U.S. mail. The 1-seat Gamma was
basically one big engine with wings, 31 feet 2 inches in length,, with massive wings of 47 feet 10
inches. The power plant was a monster Wright "Cyclone" 710 h.p. engine, truly a handful that
few pilots of the day could master. Frye was described by Time Magazine in 1937, as a being
'top-notch' flyer, and Tomlinson, was noted to be his assistant in TWA flight research.
Media Reports Frye And 'His' Gamma Rocketing Trans-Continent
TWA's Landmark Legacy Of Flight Testing & Development
Jack Frye- More Than An Airline Administrator
Personally Responsible For Rescue Of TWA Pilots
Passengers And Crew Members
When you worked for Jack Frye you became part of his TWA family. The employees of TWA
were a part of a sacred trust, meaning if you were employed by Frye you were trusted to be the
best you could be and in turn were rewarded with loyalty and appreciation, no matter if you
were in the field or in the air. When TWA equipment was missing with crew members and or
passengers it was Frye who more than not was the first man to jump in and physically lead (not
just direct) the rescue. He was a tireless bull dog when it came to protecting his "TWA family".
This is why it was such a slap in his face when the pilots turned on TWA in 1946 and why so
many other employees within TWA at the time did not endorse or approve of this destructive
strike and disloyalty toward what they considered the greatest airline in the world.
On Thursday evening November 15, 1934 TWA pilot Rice was westbound with a load of mail
from Kansas City to Los Angeles when he encountered a massive down burst (likely a
microburst) in the mountains between L.A. and Mojave. In a blinding rainstorm he was forced
to the ground 2 miles northwest of Saugus which is in the western foothills of the Tehachapi
Mountains. In the crash landing Rice sustained broken ribs and bruises yet bravely he stood by
guarding his cargo (U.S. Mail) with gun drawn against any attempted robbery.

When the plane was reported missing, Jack Frye, then General Manager and vice-president of
Transcontinental & Western Air, took off from Los Angeles in his Northrop Gamma NR13757,
early Friday, for an air search. Frye hoped he would find the missing pilot and flier unharmed
but after hours of combing the mountains above L.A., along the flight route, Frye spotted the
TWA mail plane which had sheered off its undercarriage and left wing in the crash just north of
Santa Clarita.

Pilot George Rice frantically waved to Frye, as he flew overhead, at which, Frye dipped his wings
several times to signal visual contact had been made. Frye immediately contacted his home
base on his ship's radio-phone and returned to Glendale where he organized a ground party
which he then led to the crash scene. Rice was flying a sister Northrop to Frye's Gamma.

At the accident scene TWA personnel secured the U.S. Mail and transported Rice to a local
hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Rice was reported to have told the attending
physician “fix me up in a hurry, so I can get in the harness again!” The accident was found to
be no fault of the pilot (who was one of TWA’s most seasoned and experienced).
Veteran TWA Pilot George Rice Crashes -Western Slope
Of Treacherous Tehachapi Pass- Approach Los Angeles
Fate would dictate that the first TWA Experimental Gamma (NR13757) was utilized by Frye for
just just less than a year. However, the second more publicized TWA Experimental Gamma
(NX13758) was to serve as Frye’s executive plane for a longer period from 1935 to 1940. This
second Gamma was also used by Tommy Tomlinson as a TWA experimental overweather
laboratory. Press reports document Frye also tested new technology in this plane as well.

Little is known about the third TWA Gamma (NR13759) which was used briefly as a TWA mail
plane. Pilots associated with the first Gamma were only Frye, the second Tomlinson and Frye,
and the third unknown. All three TWA Gammas valued at about 50-thousand dollars each
suffered short lives with TWA.

Because the ships were experimental it is not known the exact fuel and oil load but it is thought
they were fueled at approximately 334 gallons and 22 gallons of oil. None of these Gammas were
configured for passenger use. Only one, the second (NX13758), had a passenger cubby
(observer's compartment). This plane actually carried a civilian passenger (Frye’s wife) at one
time. The small compartment where Jean rode from Chicago to Washington with Frye was
where Tomlinson’s testing assistant James Heistand was confined during high altitude testing.

Fastest Executive Plane in the Country
Youngest Head of an Airline in the World

For the sake of this article the 3 TWA Gammas are classified as follows:

1)
NR (X) 13757 TWA Fleet Number 16 (Bought by TWA April 1934 sold September 1935.)
2)
NR NX 13758 TWA Fleet Number 17 (Bought by TWA June 1934 sold October 1940.)
3)
NC 13759       TWA Fleet Number 18 (Bought by TWA July 1934 sold October 1935.)

Originally TWA had 5 Gammas on order but took delivery of just three. After 1935 TWA owned
only one of the Gammas- this being the NX13758 which was used for research and by Frye
.

Valuable historical documentation of Jack Frye and his first Gamma can be found in the
following account of a flight over Arizona in early 1935
.

On
Friday, January 11, 1935 the President of TWA ordered his experimental Northrop Gamma
(NR13757) single engine monoplane fueled and ready for flight. Frye flew back and forth across
the United States so much during this time frame the press nicknamed him the “Flying
President”.

Jack Frye, born in March of 1904, was just 30 years old in January 1935. During his career he
held the distinction of being the youngest airline president in the world and the only airline
president to hold a transport pilot’s license. It was an absolute necessity that Frye have a
private plane with TWA as he navigated the country on an almost daily basis attending critical  
meetings, sometimes L.A. and N.Y.C. on the same day! This was unheard of at the time. No one
could keep up with his schedule or him. His secretary would no sooner miss him in Kansas City
than he would show up in Los Angeles, and or, be back again late in the day.

Frye’s ship in this accounting was the first of three Gammas purchased by TWA for mail
service, configured as light cargo planes with number one and two utilized for flight research.
Jack’s plane was the first Gamma used for the TWA legendary flight research program and
Frye was the only man known to utilize this plane. The NR13757, registration at times X13757,
was fully equipped and  outfitted with many up-to-the-date for 1934 upgrades- designated as
“Experimental” by the F.A.A. An experimental high-speed Gamma which was a handful. Few
men even at TWA were qualified to handle it. This particular Gamma was fitted with a Wright
Cyclone SR-1820 with a gutsy 710 horsepower engine (also found in various DC series
airliners). The engine was equipped with a carburetor heater that enabled the plane to be flown
in inclement conditions providing the wings didn’t ice up.

This particular January day was no different than any other in Jack’s life as he busily prepared
to leave for an important meeting in Los Angeles set for the following Monday morning. Jack
walked out to his Gamma from his Kansas City office at the downtown airport. After securing
his briefcase and gear he assisted the ground crew members as they loaded westbound express
into the 2 forward hatches. Frye did a preflight check after which he started the massive
Cyclone engine and let it warm thoroughly before signaling the wheel chokes pulled. The
ground crew stood back as Frye increased the throttle slightly the tail dragger gently navigating
to the end of the runway with a low rumble from the engine. Finally after maneuvering into a
takeoff position, Frye increased the throttle, listening carefully to the mighty engine as it
surged to full power. The monoplane quickly picked up speed, the tail lifted, and the powerful
speedster now level quickly lifted from the runway and roared off disappearing into the western
horizon. Soon Jack Frye was just a speck in the cold gray Kansas sky.

By Emporia Kansas, Frye was already cruising at 200 m.p.h. sweeping across the United States
in record time. The Gamma was a rare sight in 1935 and if you saw one you knew it was
associated with a V.I.P. pilot. It is thought Jack set a course for Oklahoma City where he could
land, check the weather west, refuel, and continue. By late Friday afternoon, Frye landed on
schedule at the TWA Albuquerque N.M. terminal where the weather was clear and cold.

On the ground again, Jack checked the weather reports which showed fair to good to L.A. He
ordered the plane serviced and refueled for the last leg of the flight to Los Angeles. After
clearing his schedule of TWA business and having a bite to eat, he again climbed back into the
Gamma and took off, heading west, toward the TWA facility at Winslow Arizona. The time was
now 8:00 p.m., the temperature was hovering at a brisk 35 degrees. There was nothing amiss,
as Jack Frye banked toward Arizona and settled in for the long cold flight while listening to the
engine for any anomalies. Frye had flown this route 100’s of times in TWA airliners and private
planes. He remained TWA’s most experienced and seasoned pilot.

After crossing the Arizona-New Mexico border Frye started noticing a slight loss of power and
sound of fuel starvation in the Wright engine which he took for carburetor icing. He was
concerned the carburetor heater was not working properly. Jack immediately descended to
warmer air and the problem appeared to correct itself. He was now west of Zuni N.M., Frye
continued a flight path to Winslow. He knew that if he had to land there was an emergency
landing field at Deep Lake Arizona which lay in between the two locations.

However, the weather continued to worsen to driving snow flurries and visibility dropped to near
zero at times. Frye being a crack pilot knew he might have to land the Gamma, but felt, luckily
he was over open wide flat desert. Around 10 p.m. the Albuquerque terminal reported they had
made contact with Frye, who notified them he was encountering snow flurries and carburetor
icing. Frye reported he could see the air beacons but did not know his exact position on the air
lane. (It is not clear in media reports but it is assumed he meant the (radio) beacons at the
TWA terminal Winslow.) Jack was roughly navigating a straight line from ABQ to Winslow
(WIN) cruising just just south of Route 66, likely at about 10,000 feet.

Jack struggled to maintain altitude in the Gamma as he dropped closer and closer to the
ground. Again the Gamma’s carburetor iced up (Jack realized the carburetor heater had
completely failed) and this combined with flurry conditions and lack of altitude forced him to
set the ship down in the high desert. The aviator unable to see the ground in the inky darkness
and snow flurries eased the ship down with instruments as his landing lights illuminated a
snowy glow of brilliant reflection around him. Finally, the ground loomed below and met him.

As Jack touched down on the Navajo Reservation he struggled to keep the plane in a straight
line as it thrashed through brush and trees. (It is not known if the engine was still powered).
The area was peppered with pinion pine and juniper, several which prevented him from
negotiating an unobstructed landing path. After coming to a rest Jack performed a shut-down
procedure on the engine and used his radio-phone to contact Albuquerque telling them he had
made an emergency landing near Deep Lake. However his transmission was received as weak
and was short on information. His position was vague but he was unharmed. He climbed down
from the cockpit and surveyed the damage to the plane as it rested in the shredded trees and
snow. Morning newspapers across the country would report- TWA President Lost In Snow
Storm.  

The Northrop Gamma, for its day, before the age of retractable landing gear, was quite
aerodynamic but ill suited for rough field landings. Over the landing gear, sculpted aluminum
was riveted over the wheels, into what was called “pants” to reduce drag on the plane. Because
the plane was encased in molded and riveted aluminum it was unforgiving in a forced landing as
the material was not resilient against hard objects. Jack surveyed the damage to the landing
gear, which was askew, and the right wing which had “mowed” down several small pinions. Jack
noticed the fuselage underneath was damaged and the ship was resting on a slight downhill
incline with nose down, tail up. Being a licensed airplane mechanic, Frye knew the plane would
not fly out of the rugged location without repairs. He settled in for the night and gathered fuel
for a signal fire with temperatures hovering at about 20 degrees. The ships cargo of express
freight was unharmed and the plane carried no U.S. Mail on this flight.

Jack dozed off repeatedly by the fire shivering in the damp winter air as he listened to a pack of
coyotes repeatedly yipping in celebration after their early morning kill. By morning’s light,
Jack cleared the fallen snow off the 48 foot wing spread and fuselage to make the Gamma
easier to be seen by rescue planes. However, because the Gamma was all aluminum it did not
stand out well against the white landscape. Jack was able to use his radio on Saturday at noon,
stating to TWA in N.M. that his position was near the Arizona-New Mexico line and 145 miles
west of Albuquerque. At 12:10 p.m., another weak transmission was received from Frye at
TWA in Winslow AZ. in which Frye reported he was “O.K.”. Any more attempts at
communication with TWA president Frye were thwarted by a dead radio battery on board the
Northrop Gamma. The plane’s resting place was about 25 miles west of Zuni Pueblo. Jack Frye
would wait a chilling 17 hours for rescue in frigid conditions with no survival gear and little food.

Having once lived in the White Mountains of Arizona and driven Highway 191 many times past
the crash area, I can assure you it is a void of vast emptiness covered by scrub trees and brush.
The region remains inaccessible and very remote. Traveling north to I-40 (former Route 66) the
accident scene was roughly east of Hwy. 191 and north of Hwy. 61, which branches northeast off
of 191, to Zuni Pueblo. The Deep Lake emergency landing strip is all but forgotten today and
not located on satellite imagery.  

TWA Albuquerque Division Superintendent Major A. D. Smith was dispatched in a tri-motored
passenger airliner to search for Frye. The plane did not have the luxury of a radio. It is not
clear if this was a Ford tri-motor or the more commonly used TWA Fokker. Meanwhile, pilots
and passengers of a regularly scheduled westbound TWA airliner watched anxiously for the
stricken Frye Gamma when flying over the area Saturday but disappointingly saw nothing but
snow and trees. Albuquerque TWA officials were getting concerned by Saturday afternoon that
Smith and Frye, both, appeared to be missing. The search quadrant was a perimeter of Winslow,
Navajo, Sanders, Albuquerque, and the Zuni Pueblo. All locations worked together fervently to
locate Frye before nightfall and freezing temperatures enveloped the desert again.  

Finally at 3:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon, Smith spotted Frye’s Northrop Gamma 2D near St.
John’s Highway (route 191) roughly 18 miles south of Navajo Arizona. He gently set his large
passenger tri-motor down 200 feet away from Frye on a flat unobstructed patch of high desert.
Major Smith knew as soon as the tri-motor contacted the ground that it would be too soft and
mushy to take off again unless they had a hard freeze in the area. Now two ships lay stranded.
It is thought Smith may have been traveling with a TWA mechanic named Rhondes.

On Major Smith’s landing, J. R. Lynn (Chief Clerk at Zuni) and an irrigation foreman, F. E.
Frost, approached the airliner, accompanied by pilot Frye. The two had been searching the area
by truck, from Zuni-south, and had arrived at the scene shortly before Smith landed. In
addition to this a Department of Commerce plane was also searching from the air to no avail.
The Frye signal fire was not spotted because according to Lynn, the wood available in the area
was too dry and emitted little smoke. Lynn and others who arrived at the scene stated to the
press the plane was little damaged and would be able to be flown out once a runway could be
bladed. None of them knew; however, the intricacies of the heavy Northrop Gamma.

TWA officials were soon notified that the accident scene was located after which Winslow TWA
officials immediately dispatched a rescue truck which picked up Frye, 2 other men, and some of
the plane’s freight. Smith stayed behind to guard the two planes and assess the removal
process. Jack’s then wife Jean, in Kansas City, was immediately contacted and told her husband
was safe, to her immense relief. TWA employees all over the country who had been speculating
about the fate of their beloved president were finally at ease.

After arriving in Winslow late Saturday evening, Frye checked into La Posada (a Harvey
House) where he recuperated. On Sunday morning he continued his journey to Los Angeles on
a TWA airliner with, no doubt, an interesting tale of survival to share. He was unharmed,
except for what he described to the press as a “rather bad cold” which he attributed to his
exposure to the harsh elements. Within 15 days, Frye again was flying over the scene in a TWA
airliner stopping at Winslow and Albuquerque making his way with his wife Jean to one of
many business commitments around the country. Life was back to normal for Frye and TWA!

The Fate of Gamma NR13757

By all published accounts the plane was little damaged and one would assume this was the end
of the saga. At the time, TWA possessed the best maintenance and overhaul facilities in the
country. TWA’s Major Smith set up a staging area at (Zuni), thought to mean Zuni Pueblo, for
retrieval of the TWA Gamma, which rested 10 miles from the Deep Lake landing site. The
plane was dismantled and trucked to 191 and then north to Route 66 to the Winslow TWA
facility. After which one would assume it was transported to Los Angeles. But for whatever
reason the plane, it appears, was never repaired by TWA, but instead later sold. The TWA
Fokker? This transport was also said to have been trucked out, not flown, because of the
mucky conditions.

On September 10, 1935 Jack transferred the Gamma’s ownership to prominent United States
airplane broker Charles H. Babb, of Babb International Aircraft Brokerage, 1140 Airway,
Glendale, California. Babb did a brisk business with TWA and other airlines throughout the
years trading planes. At this time, the trail of the NR13757 grows cold. One source states that
Transcontinental & Western Air took a loss on the plane of $16,208.48. But was this amount
what the plane was sold for or what the damage was? Other sources indicate that the plane was
likely repaired by TWA and later sold, 9 months later. The plane was never considered
“totaled” by TWA and was later resold by Babb and flown into the 1940's. There were only 3
Northrop Gamma 2D’s ever manufactured.

The pilot was found to be not at fault. The accident was caused by an iced over carburetor as
result of a faulty carburetor heater. According to Frye “I was flying high in the clouds late last
night (Friday, January 11, 1934) when I ran into heavy icing conditions and everything worked
fine, except for the carburetor heater”. The Gamma was equipped with a variety of very
advanced instruments for 1935 and TWA flight research equipment.  

Jack, from this point on flew the 2nd Gamma, NX13758, as a private plane whenever it was not
scheduled for experimental testing by TWA. These tests were performed primarily by
Tomlinson, but a little known fact is Frye too also tested many new innovations in this plane.

At the same time as Jack’s emergency landing in the desert of Arizona extensive coverage of
his future wife Helen’s new marriage to Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. was one of the hottest news
stories in the nation. Both, Helen and Jack’s stories were front page copy at times, in January
of 1935. Jack shared a front page with aviatrix Amelia Earhart's Pacific Hop (Honolulu to
Oakland) on January 13, 1935. 2.5 years later, Amelia too would be "lost" but unfortunately,
for her and a grieving nation, she would not be found and would die isolated and alone.
The Gammas Of TWA-
The Most Streamlined Planes Of The Day & The Fastest
Frye Fights For Return Of U.S. Mail Contracts
After A Lapse Of 85 Days- May 1934
To commemorate the occasion, vice president and operations manager of TWA, Frye, flies the
first load of mail personally in a new Northrop Gamma cross-country. This event launches new
and efficient overnight mail service for the United States at over 200 m.p.h., unheard of in 1934!

Recently, in talks around the country, Frye extolled the importance of the mail contracts for
the airlines stating that TWA passenger service was not the bread and butter of the airline’s
bottom line. The mail contracts and express service sustained the company and if the United
States did not reinstate mail contracts that passenger service to various cities would have to be
discontinued. Please see Page 1932.

At the formation of the major U.S. airlines in the early 1930’s mail contracts were a
prerequisite for the survival of these struggling enterprises. Passenger service was added along
the mail routes which in turn started a network of service available to the flying public
eventually competing with the railroads.
Undeterred by dangerous thunderstorms in the
west- chilling snow fronts and icing in the east-
Jack flashes from coast-to-coast setting a new
transcontinental cargo plane record with his
new Northrop Gamma 2D at cruise speed of 227
m.p.h. and peak speeds of 275 m.p.h. The
Gamma carried 355 pounds of U.S. Mail and
(85 pounds of express). The new Gamma (not a
passenger plane) was specifically built by John
Northrop for fast efficient mail and express
transport. Designed for 1 pilot and a load of
1000 pounds. On this record breaking flight
Frye proved TWA could deliver the mail
efficiently, effectively, and speedily!
Record Flight- 11 hours- 31 minutes- Los Angeles To Newark
On Sunday, May 13, 1934 Jack Frye supervised the loading of TWA’s new Northrop Gamma
speedster (NR13757) with 355 pounds of mail and 85 pounds of express. Frye prepared himself
and the plane for the rocket cross-country jaunt that would include a quick refueling stop at
Kansas City. Frye started the massive Cyclone engine- within 5 minutes- the wheel chocks
were pulled and he made his way off the ground by (6:00 A.M.) 5:00 A.M. (EST). Frye raced
over the Tehachapi Mountains and settled in a flight path over the deserts of AZ and NM.

Finally at 10:21 a.m. Jack set the rocket-like speedster down at Kansas City for refueling and
to off-load and load mail. On this first leg Frye stated he had averaged 233 m.p.h. but because
of snow and rain he had to fly at a low level of 16,000 feet. Frye had time only to grab a
sandwich and a cup of coffee before the Gamma, engine screaming, lifted off again for Newark.

On the next leg, the Gamma averaged a speed of 225.66 m.p.h. -however most media sources
cite 227 m.p.h. Again, inclement weather was encountered, but the 710 H.P. Wright Cyclone
never missed a beat and plowed through blizzard conditions to land at Newark, N.J. @ 4:31
(4:33) E.S.T. P.M.

Official time for the 2609-mile flight was 11 hours 31 minutes; however, some media sources
subtracted the 10 minutes Frye was on the ground in Kansas City refueling making the record
11 hours, 21 minutes. Frye stated he could have shaved an hour off the record if unfavorable
weather had not been encountered. The Gamma and the Wright Cyclone performed flawlessly.

At Newark, in between interviews with reporters, Frye assisted Ted Herbert, the Newark field
manager unload the cargo (see above). Photos and coverage of this record flight ran nation wide
in media publications on the front page for a week.
Head Of TWA Officially Appointed President Of TWA @ 30
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. (T. & W.A.) was founded on October 1, 1930 with Jack
Frye serving as 'vice president in charge of operations' and sitting on the board of directors. On
September 25, 1934 Jack Frye made General Manager and Vice President, soon after he was
appointed executive vice president. From president of Aero Corporation of California and
Standard Air Lines, to vice president in charge of operations for Western Air Express (WAE),
to the de facto operating head of T.W.A., Jack Frye officially becomes president of T. & W.A.
on
December 6, 1934, at just 30 years old. This man truly eclipsed all his peers and associates as
the youngest and most successful aviation head of his day!
December 8, 1934

Mr. Jack Frye
President, TWA Incorporated
Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Mr. Frye:

Congratulations on your appointment as
President of TWA Incorporated. I wish you a
successful career in this work. Several years
ago you gave Mrs. Riordan and me a most
pleasurable thrill, when you took us up in the
air at Prescott, Arizona (see page 1927).

On our first air trip, and shortly after that
time, I introduced you to Mr. Henry M.
Robinson in Los Angeles. It was then remarked
that we could expect big things from you in the
development of air transportation and now you
seem to be fulfilling our hopes!

Mrs. Riordan joins with me in all good wishes.
Sincerely, Timothy A. Riordan
TWA, Inc.
10 Richards Road
Municipal Airport
Kansas City, Missouri

Mr. Timothy Riordan
Howard Sheep Company
Flagstaff, Arizona
December 22, 1934

Dear Mr. Riordan:
Thank you for your kind letter of congratulations and good wishes which I have just received
due to having been in the east for the past three weeks.

I often fly over Flagstaff and think of the pleasant visit I had in Prescott the time you and Mrs.
Riordan went for a ride with me in the old Fokker Universal. Some day I will stop in with one of
our new Douglas Planes and repeat the experience. You will enjoy these new planes as they
have all the comforts of the finest pullman car with lots of room, large comfortable chairs,
steam heating and all possible conveniences. They are also quieter than the average Pullman
car.

I very grateful to you for your introduction to Mr. Henry Robinson as he has been very helpful
to me every since, and I see him almost every time I go to Los Angeles.

With sincere wishes to Mrs. Riordan and yourself for a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year, I am,

Yours truly,
Jack Frye

JF/LB
TWA NR NC NX13758
(C/N 9) TWA Fleet #17
Utilized By Frye As A 'Flying Office' More
Than Any Other 3 TWA Gammas
The Holy Grail Of Jack Frye
Northrop Gamma Association
Frye may have commandeered the first delivered TWA Gamma (NR13757) and utilized it as a
much needed cross-country executive transport, but the holy grail of Gamma association for
Frye was actually the second (and last TWA) Gamma (NX13758). No, this Gamma was not just
associated with Tommy Tomlinson but one might think this as there was so much publicity of
Tomlinson testing the Gamma for TWA and this has been reprinted repeatedly over the years.

I was quite surprised to find a considerable amount of media material connecting Frye and the
same (Tomlinson) Northrop Gamma, 'copy' which hasn’t been re-circulated. So much material,
in fact, that I just spent 30 minutes reading through it all and don’t even know where to begin.
I think we will start with Frye associations with the plane and touch briefly on the TWA Flight
Research program which is quite well covered in other venues. Keep in mind that the test
Gamma, as connected with this program (NX13758) was also Frye’s official personal transport
and he used it regularly conducting nation-wide airline business as president of TWA.

Few historians realize Frye was connected with this plane and are missing part of the equation.
Even fewer realize that Tomlinson “worked” for Frye. Even for the period when Frye appointed
Paul Richter to head the program, and Tomlinson answered to Richter, they “both” answered to
Frye. Jack Frye was never removed from TWA flight research- he directed it. Such research
was a consuming passion for Frye who dreamed of flying "above the weather”. Frye knew
therein lay the success of TWA. He could never be far removed from the NX13758 test program
as he himself was a test pilot of said Gamma and his own use of the plane was scheduled around
Tomlinson’s test flights. Frye was always front and center in the mix.
I have heard that 2 other men at one time each flew the Northrop NR13757 which was mostly
associated with Frye. I have been able to substantiate the first claim (Lindbergh) but so far
have not found any media reports that (Richter) flew the plane. This just means that (Richter)
were not publicized flights. Charles Lindbergh (once associated with TWA) flew the Northrop
Gamma NR13757 on the afternoon of May 23, 1934 from Newark N.J. to Langley Field, VA. to
attend an air exposition Annual Engineering Conference (as associated with the National
Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). On the trip Lindbergh said he averaged 200 m.p.h. at
75% power. The jaunt took just 1 hour and 35 minutes each way. Lindbergh represented the
new Cyclone powered Gamma and TWA for the event. The plane was noted as being the same
one that Frye recently flew cross-country in, on May 14, 1934, less than 10-days earlier.
Charles Lindbergh Borrows Gamma NR13757
January 31, 1935
Because of Frye's placement in the aviation industry, he was sought out to serve on the board
of so many organizations it is almost impossible to tabulate a complete listing. Here is just one
obscure example: Jack Frye, President of TWA, Inc. was elected to the board of governors of
the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America (ACCA) at a ceremony at the Hotel
Biltmore in New York City. Also elected (among other aviation notables) was E. V.
Rickenbacker (General Manager of Eastern Airlines), C. R. Smith, (President of American
Airlines), and W. A. Patterson, (President of United Airlines).
Frye's Passion For Flight Came First!
In regard to private transports (not so much airliners) starting in the 1920’s Frye utilized
several JN4D (former World War I surplus) Curtiss Jennys, after which in 1927, Frye started
utilizing Fokker single and multiple engine airliners for various private and promo flights. By
1930, as an executive with Western Air Express (W.A.E.), and soon after with T. & W. A., Frye
utilized a Fokker F32 (combo personal-charter), and more so, a Lockheed Vega 5B. The Vega
registration number is noted by historians as NC-624-E (NC624E) TWA fleet #251, C/N 53. This
plane was well-appointed and also used for charter flights (and by Charles Lindbergh, a few
times) but Frye was the pilot most often spotted operating it. By the early 1930’s, there were
Fleetsters, Deltas, Alphas, and Gammas. Please see Page 1932.

At the end of 1940, there was the famous Lockheed Electra Jr. NC18137 (Page 1940). Which by
the way wouldn’t have been so well-known if it hadn’t been for the frequent use of it by Frye, a
fact which should be better promoted. Then in 1945, there was the large and luxurious Lockheed
Lodestar executive airliner, NC33604 (Page 1945), which came on-line as TWA really came into
its own as a Trans-World-Airline. These two Lockheeds offered TWA President Frye a
passenger configuration in his cabin, something lacking in the fast but confined Gammas. Two
of the Gammas, and both Lockheeds, were designated "Flight Research Laboratory" planes.
The Gammas were regularly utilized in this famous TWA program by both Jack Frye and TWA
research test pilot Tommy Tomlinson.

Both Gammas and the Lockheeds were designated as the private executive planes of Jack Frye
and always reserved for his use. The Electra 12A and Lodestar 18 were designed specifically by
Lockheed as airline feeder transports and executive airliners. These planes were the "Cadillac"
of planes- documented as the most advanced and fastest mini-transports of their day. It was no
coincidence that Howard Hughes chose the (Lockheed Super-Electra 14) and Amelia Earhart
(the Lockheed Electra 10E) for their 'round-the-world' flights!
President of TWA Frye- Breaks Record in Gamma
February 18, 1936

Just one of 100's of official meetings Jack attended around the country arriving in his personal
Vega, Gamma, Electra and Lodestar.

Aircraft Yearbook 1953 (Aviation Records)
Inter-City Speed Record- Chicago Ill. to Washington D.C.
(Transport Aircraft) February 18, 1936
Jack Frye (TWA) Northrop Gamma 2-D Monoplane, NR13758, Wright Cyclone (710 hp) engine.
Chicago Municipal Airport to Washington (Hoover Airport) South Washington. Elapsed Time,
2 hr. 22 min., distance 599 miles, average speed, 253.098 mph. National Aeronautic Association
awarded record to Mr. and Mrs. Frye.

As I said, after the demise of the Gamma NR13757, the 2nd Gamma NR13758, was drafted by
Frye as his next executive plane, which he would fly back and forth across the country regularly
to business appointments. When the plane wasn’t being used for business and tested by Frye, it
was operated by Tommy Tomlinson, as a TWA flight research ship.

In regard to the record above Frye was in Chicago with the plane. He met up with his wife who
was often in Chicago herself. Jack asked his wife to fly back on a return leg to Wash. D.C. in
the Gamma. Of course, most aviation enthusiasts would not think this possible, as the Gamma
TWA 2D’s were designed as single (pilot) seat, mail-express planes. But the 13758 had an
observer’s compartment in the area below the pilot, which in the other 2D’s was merely a cargo
hold. There was a seating area there, quite cramped, mind you, with a little door and window,
framed by a curtain to block the sun.

During the plane’s test flights with Tommy Tomlinson, his assistant James Heistand occupied
this compartment. To my knowledge, this is the first time a woman was ever transported in the
plane, and certainly the only time it was a V.I.P. like Jack Frye’s wife. Jack’s wife at the time
was his second wife, a beautiful French-born lady by the name of Regina (Jean) Yvonne
LaCoste. (When Frye met Jean she was a high-fashion buyer for SAKS in N.Y.C.) Obviously,
the lady was not all furs and French couture, but a real trooper and quite adventurous. This was
to be expected of course, as this woman entertained the likes of Frye friend's Anne and Charles
Lindbergh, who stayed at her and Jack’s Kansas City home on a flight through the U.S., in
April of ‘33. Over the next three days Jean was regaled by Anne with the adventure of flight
and certainly was enriched by this association.   

The TWA Northrop Gamma was fueled and serviced for the outbound flight, while Frye helped
his wife into the passenger cubby. After Jean was safely tucked in, he kissed her and climbed
into the overhead cockpit. Frye often flew the Gamma with a parachute attached to his back
which served as the seat cushion in the Gamma, this was typical for the day (pilots sitting on
their parachutes on unpadded aircraft seats). The planes were not luxuriously appointed.

The mighty Wright Cyclone was ignited, after which Jack slowly taxied to his takeoff position
where the 710 horsepower Gamma was let loose and screamed for the horizon. I would imagine,
even though Jean flew with Frye often on airliners, this flight was a milestone in her life! The
plane climbed higher and higher toward the sub-stratosphere, settling in at 14,000 feet, leaving
snowy Chicago and Lake Michigan, far behind. The Gamma cruised ahead of a 50-mile an hour
gale which helped Jack maintain a speed of over 240 m.p.h.

After a flight of 2 hours and 22 minutes, and 600-some miles, the TWA Gamma descended on
Washington D.C., landing at Hoover Airport in South Washington D.C. This was a hazardous
airport to navigate in 1936, what with the adjoining motor parkway, 14th Street bridge,
amusement park, a smoke-belching landfill, and high lines, etc., to name just a few navigation
obstacles. But not to worry, it presented nary a problem for the stellar piloting skills of TWA’s
Jack Frye.

After landing at Hoover Airport, Jack helped a very chilled Jean out of the cramped passenger
cubby, who was wrapped in a heavy coat and gloves. They both departed for the luxurious
Carlton Hotel (now known as the Ritz-Carlton).

The purpose of the flight? Just another routine flight by President Frye in the TWA Gamma
NR13758, this time though, to attend the Copeland Senate Committee meetings at D.C.
debating airline safety issues. This particular investigation (Feb. 10 1936) was result of the
TWA airliner crash (May 6 1935) which killed N.M. Sen. Bronson Cutting at Atlanta Missouri.

Record? This was never the intent of Frye at the onset of the flight, but upon landing in
Washington, it was discovered that he had beat the previous 2-year old record by 26-minutes,
with an average cruise speed of 252 m.p.h. Frye stated to the press that the flight was
uneventful, other than it’s brevity. The couple was photographed next to the cooling Gamma
racer at Washington, by the Associated Press, for a story which ran in the Washington Post and
other newspapers the following day (Feb. 19). I am unable to re-publish the newspaper image
here, due to copyright restrictions, but I will if I can eventually find an original hard copy image.

Aeronautic Association Convention
November 30 - December 1, 1936 Ceremony honoring air record winners of 1936-
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Frye were in attendance and were honored.
Frye Breaks Record With His Gamma On Flight To Senate Meeting
One of my motivations in creating this website was the promotion of Jack Frye ‘the aviator’ as
the love of flight was Jack's most treasured focus in life. Frye was certainly a stellar corporate
genius, but first and foremost, from the beginning of his career, he was a pilot. This association
with Frye was often overlooked as he climbed the corporate ladder and spent more and more
time in the boardroom. It was this passion, and that of others associated with Frye, which made
TWA "the airline run by fliers" as opposed to an airline managed by boardroom businessmen.
In regard to this focus on my part, I have been particularly interested in any references to Frye
in the air and behind the yoke of various planes. You will find these references peppered
throughout this website. These references also focus on planes which were associated with Frye
regularly as personal private planes (even though all equipment was actually owned by TWA).
Media Accounts Of Frye And Northrop Gamma NR13758
Essex
County
Airport
Caldwell
New Jersey
July 3, 1937
Seen above is the NR13758 which Jack utilized often. (Interestingly the photo was taken at the
same airport where John F. Kennedy, Jr. kept his private plane and departed from before his
fatal crash of July 16, 1999).

A terrific Time magazine article available on the internet called "ON TOP" chronicles the TWA
overweather research program thoroughly. Tomlinson and Frye are both mentioned several
times over. The photo seen above, was captured in the Gamma NX13758 within a month of the
article, possibly when Frye tested the plane after an overhaul as mentioned by Time Magazine.

The Frye family photo (above) ran in the "Wheeler Times" in 1989. At this time, Jack's body
was moved from Tucson Arizona and re-interred in the family plot at Wheeler Texas. I have
visited this cemetery several times and placed flowers on Jack’s grave and that of his brother,
aviator Don Frye. The pioneer cemetery is lonely and wind swept and it is sad to see Jack buried
there with a simple headstone. You would expect to see a monument to TWA adjoining.
Quote from a profile on Frye which ran January 10 1937- “Though his home is in Kansas City
he covers a lot of territory, his speedy silver Northrop mail plane is known to airport mechanics
all over the country- he flies into town makes a call and is on his way in an hour or so!”
Another media source stated in regard to Frye- "During his climb he has piloted some 90
different types of planes and logged over 5000 hours in the air." (1936).
Nearly A Flight Of No Return- Northrop Gamma NX13758
Sunday January 24, 1937 -On a 0-visibility day at Kansas City TWA terminal when all air traffic
was grounded east of the Mississippi single throbbing 1000-horsepower silver ship with brilliant
red TWA markings slowly taxied to the end of a runway with a full load fuel. At the controls
were Daniel W. (Tommy) Tomlinson (assistant to TWA president Jack Frye) and his flight test
assistant James Heistand who was secured in a lower “cubby” (modified cargo hold) chock full of
monitoring equipment. As the powerful Wright Cyclone roared to life the experimental
laboratory Northrop Gamma 2D quickly picked up speed, lifting off into the bleak eastern
horizon- destination Newark, N.J.

The gray morning had been specifically chosen by Tomlinson to take full advantage of Frye’s
quest to revolutionize TWA passenger service by conquering the sub-stratosphere and fly
passenger liners above inclement weather often encountered at lower altitudes. When Frye
launched the TWA overweather flight research program in 1936 he retained his old friend
Tomlinson to ‘find the top’ for TWA and demanded Tomlinson solve the following equations and
report back. This from a Washington Post article on the airline industry by Nathaniel F. Silsbee.

Frye’s Questions for Tomlinson:
What type of supercharger is best for high-altitude flying?
What is the actual increase in speed at 20,000 feet, as compared with the theoretical
increase worked out by engineers
?
What is the actual air-speed attainment at 30,000 feet?
What are the wind and the weather conditions at the base of the stratosphere?  

The NX13758 was equipped with a futuristic turbo-supercharger on loan from the Army Air
Corp which enabled it to fly the upper atmosphere with ease. Unfortunately, though, on this
particular flight the Gamma failed to find ‘the top’ no matter how high Tomlinson climbed. The
TWA speedster was equipped with no less than 36 different flight monitors, installed in
Heistand’s compartment, and even a camera which captured a photo of the monitor panel at
each 1000 foot elevation. These photos later served TWA engineers with a hard copy of each and
every instrument reading at various intervals of each test flight.

The Gamma all alone now over the U.S., plowed its way across the country for 7-hours through
driving sleet and snow, until it finally reached the dreary eastern seaboard. The Wright Cyclone
test ship was never able to stay ‘above the weather’ even at the Gamma’s ceiling of 36,000 feet
and this left Tomlinson lost in a gray soup for the entire flight. He sighted not blue of the sky
nor the green of the land and certainly found no where to set her down. Fortunately though the
Gamma was able to be navigated purely by instruments which delivered the two brave aviators
to the coast.

Somewhere over Newark New Jersey where Tomlinson had planned on landing he found himself
flying blind. He had no communication (his aerial frozen over) and no airport radio beacon to
guide him. With TWA officials on the ground desperately waiting for word from the ship the
Gamma overshot the coast and continued out to sea on a seemingly ‘flight of no return’. There
could not have been a more dire situation. The plane had nearly exhausted its 328 gallons of
fuel, the crew had no survival equipment, and the heavy Gamma if ditched would have sunk in
minutes leaving little wreckage if any to recover. Finally though, after flying out toward the
Azores for 150 miles Tomlinson realized his miscalculations and corrected the Gamma’s heading
back toward the coast. Comfortable as they were, with oxygen and cozy heat (with temperatures
at times 30 below 0), both were decidedly uncomfortable, knowing the Atlantic would offer them
no chance of survival if they ran out of fuel.

After what seemed an eternity the Gamma finally slipped back over the eastern seaboard and
Tomlinson sought a place to set down with an eye on the almost spent fuel. Again he was unable
to find Newark, so he headed southwest over nearby farmland. Slowly he descended, with care to
not stall, and finally spied the first hole in the clouds since Columbus Ohio. Tomlinson slipped
the Gamma through just as the thirsty engine ran out of gas. Dropping like a rock he eased the
plane down on a hill adjoining a soggy meadow. The Gamma dug in and slid to a stop with a nose
full of mud. The exhausted men climbed out and were able to establish contact with TWA by
radio now that they were on the ground. Their position? In the rural countryside near
Princeton, N.J.    

The timing of the muddy crash was most unfortunate as the TWA Gamma was slated to be the
star attraction at the upcoming National Aviation Show at the Grand Central Palace in New
York City on January 28, 1937. Within 4-days America’s excited aviation youth were looking
forward to crawling all over the rocket-like speedster. TWA dispatched ground crews to the
landing site and the plane was trucked to service facilities where it was patched, polished, and
transported to Manhattan. The TWA Northrop Gamma was a big hit, as displayed in the main
entrance of the Palace exhibition hall, where no one was the wiser to the recent harrowing flight
and dead-stick landing.

Immediately after the show, Frye ordered the plane completely overhauled. Soon it was back in
the air again testing a new carburetor-less fuel injection system on loan from the U.S. Navy as
designed by the Eclipse Corporation. The set-up eliminated the need for carburetion. The man
who tested this revolutionary new fuel injection system was crack pilot Jack Frye himself. This
testing, which took place the week of July 5, 1937, is thought to be the first flight of the
research ship since Tomlinson’s January 24, 1140-mile flight, which gave TWA invaluable data
regarding instrument navigation.

Information from the above article came from 4 different news accounts of the day which
chronicled the event in detail. (NX13758 modifications added 1000 H.P. and a 3-blade prop).   
More Media Reports Of 'The Flying President'
(Personally Searches for TWA NC 13789 Flight 327) March 1, 1938
Jack Frye, president of Transcontinental & Western Air arrived here today from Boulder,
Nevada to organize an emergency search for the missing TWA airliner which had on board 6
passengers and 3 crew members. Frye flew at unheard of speeds, rushing here in his sub-
stratosphere experimental ship in just three hours, on a flight of 400 miles from Boulder. Frye’s
plane was immediately refueled and he soon took off again for the Auberry and Tollhouse
districts for a search. Jack Frye was quoted as stating “I feel the men here have mapped out a
logical area for the search and it seems almost certain, that given a few hours of clear weather,
we would find the plane in the area of Fresno.” The plane of Jack Frye and record speed holder
Frank Fuller were the last ships to end the search at dark.

March 5, 1938
A United Press photo runs of Frye in his Northrop Gamma captured on the ground, likely at
Fresno, as he takes off to conduct another daily search for the missing TWA airliner.  

March 6, 1938
Again, Frye is mentioned in newspapers, as heading an aerial search for the missing TWA
airliner in his sub-stratosphere ship. Another TWA airliner (this one piloted by Paul Richter)
was cited to have arrived, with Bureau of Air Commerce Inspectors and TWA officials, along
with a United Airlines transport. Both airliners joined in the hunt providing much needed radio
communications. Frye’s plane is equipped with a radio telephone, as well.

March 6, 1938 (Sunday)
In a second edition newspaper it was stated that rescue planes were forced to return to the
Fresno airport under threat of a snow storm. The planes were urgently searching for the
missing TWA airliner over the treacherous Sierras in a line north and south from the Fresno
area. Jack Frye, president of TWA was said to again be “the last one out of the air” and was
said to have stated “hope had not yet been abandoned for the 6 passengers and three crew
members” (missing since Tuesday night). However, it was mentioned that in the face of
widespread despair, Frye’s words were the only ray of hope in light of the other search party
members who felt the airliner was likely lost in heavy snow with no survivors. Many felt, even,
that the plane
may not be located until after the spring snows melt. In desperation, Frye offers
a $1000,000. reward to anyone who locates the airliner.

On March 8, 1938
It appears that Frye had to return to K.C. for pending TWA business, as he departed Fresno for
Albuquerque, with a heavy heart, leaving the search to men he left in charge at the California
crash area. I have no doubt that Frye would have personally known the crew of this lost plane.
As with each TWA plane that crashed with fatalities, a part of Frye died too.

March 8, 1938
It was mentioned by media that search pilots were grounded by a spring front and ground crews,
which were minimal, lost their “inspirational” leader (Jack Frye) Monday night when he had to
fly east on urgent business to Kansas City. However, before Frye left in his substratosphere
monoplane, he stated to the press, “we must proceed on the assumption that speeding the
search might do some good.” On a more somber note, though, he continued, “I think however,
there is no chance that any of the crew or passengers lived after a crash in country like that.”
The search had concentrated in the Bass Lake region and several witnesses had heard an
airliner pass low in the clouds around 9:30 p.m. in the region on the night it was lost (March 1).
All of them wondering what a large plane was doing in the area. It is thought the airliner was
lost and had deviated due to weather before the crash. Frye will return from the east to head
the search again in several days.

Frye Arrives In Albuquerque New Mexico
March 8, 1938
President of TWA Jack Frye arrived here late last night at 11:25 p.m. to refuel his sub-
stratosphere plane on a hop from Fresno-Albuquerque-Kansas City-Washington D.C. His
departure was delayed 1 hour because of business. Frye stated he flew in from California at an
altitude of 11,000 feet and at an average of 200 miles per hour. The trip took just 4 hours and 20
minutes. The TWA president, visibly exhausted, had been in Fresno California searching for a
lost TWA airliner. Frye was to stop only briefly for the day in Kansas City to handle pending
business, and then by night, take off again for his Washington D.C. office. Frye departed at
12:17 A.M. for Kansas City, set to fly most the night, and arrive early in the a.m., weather east
was reported to be favorable for a night flight. (
See details of this ill-fated search below).
What Became Of The (3) TWA Northrop Gamma 2D's?
TWA took delivery of (3) specially built Northrop Gamma 2D’s
Although (5) such Gammas were at one time on order by TWA

Number 1
Northrop Gamma 2-D (X-13757, NR13757) TWA fleet #16, S/N 8. This plane was delivered
personally to Frye at the end of April 1934. On September 10, 1935 Jack transferred the plane's
ownership to prominent United States aircraft broker Charles H. Babb, Babb International
Aircraft Brokerage, 1140 Airway, Glendale California. Transcontinental & Western Air took a
loss of $16,208.48 on the plane (rather than have it repaired?). Soon though, by 1942, it was
back in the air, this time serving with the Army Corp of Engineers and was supposedly lost in
Africa with no recovery (crashed). A shame and yet another short life of a Northrop Gamma 2D!

Number 2
Northrop Gamma NR13758 (at times NX13758) TWA fleet #17, S/N 9. Delivered to TWA mid-
July 1934. By mid-1930’s this Gamma was used extensively for TWA’s legendary flight research
program. It was retained by TWA until October of 1940, when it was sold. It had been utilized
regularly as an executive plane by Frye until that date as evidenced on this page. Tellingly- this
sale coincided with a new transport Frye purchased (October 1940) which was the Lockheed twin
NC18137. Interestingly, at this juncture, this Lockheed became the new flight research-
executive aircraft for Frye who always maintained 1 plane in the TWA fleet for this purpose.
This transport was always a small aircraft not being used for TWA passenger service. Each time
one of these small planes was sold Frye replaced it with another. Frye never kept a “fleet” of
executive planes as some CEO’s did but requested just one be available at all times for his cross-
country business flights.

Sell Gamma To Texaco Company

The low-wing Northrop Gamma monoplane used by TWA on high altitude experimental flights
preceding introduction of four-engine Sratoliners this summer has been sold to the Texas Oil
Company for research flying.

For five years the Gamma was flown to “sub-stratosphere” levels to hang up a record of
spending more time above 30,000 feet than any other plane.

D.W. (Tommy) Tomlinson, under the direction of Jack Frye, made frequent flights to the upper
levels in the Gamma to test every type of instrument under consideration for high altitude
passenger flights. Tomlinson learned that weather was clear 95 percent of the time at altitudes
above 20,000 feet and that instruments, including radio, worked perfectly.

The plane will be used to test special types of gasoline, according to Aubrey Kief of Texaco, who
will be in charge of flights.  Source TWA Skyliner, In-House Publication, September 15, 1940      

Number 3
Northrop Gamma NC13759 TWA fleet #18, S/N 10, was the last of only three Northrop Gamma
(2-D's) manufactured, all owned by TWA. This Gamma was purchased by the company mid-July
of 1934. I have found no connection between the plane and Jack Frye at this time; however, he
likely did fly the plane at some point during TWA's ownership. While Jack was associated with
TWA he piloted nearly every plane they owned at least once. (Frye had piloted and tested some
90-different aircraft by 1936). The plane is said to have also been utilized for a short time in the
TWA flight research program but documentation is lacking. As with the other TWA Gammas
the historical information is sketchy and records for these planes are elusive. The NC13759 was
owned by TWA for a very short time and was sold by mid-October 1935. Sadly, this beautiful
machine disappeared completely some time after December of 1937 while serving as a bomber
and coastal-surveillance plane with the Spanish Republican Forces as XA-ABJ. I have on file but
one image of this beautiful ship (emblazoned with TWA markings). I have never seen another.   

The last Northrop Gamma Frye was associated with can easily be identified by the ownership
intervals of the Gamma mail planes of TWA. For instance, after 1935, TWA owned but (1)
single Northrop Gamma 2D and this was (NR13758).

Vintage FAA Airplane Registration Codes-
NC (National Standard)                                                                      NR (National Restricted)
NL (National Limited)                                                                        NX (National Experimental)
N   (United States Registry)  -one might assume in error that (NC) means National Commercial
A TWA 14-passenger DC2 departed San Francisco, Tuesday March 1, for connections at
Winslow where passengers could continue east. The route was southwest to Bakersfield and
over the (lower elevation) Tehachapi Pass, over-flight Kingman and on to Winslow (some
sources state the connection was to ABQ). Radio contacts vague- at one point near Bakersfield
the pilot contacted Burbank indicating he was having difficulty in regard to weather. He said he
could not navigate over the Tehachapi Pass so was going to head back to land north or south.
The weather descending on him was akin to a “perfect storm”. The plane was ordered to divert
to Burbank immediately and land. At this time, though, the pilot made a decision that would
seal the airliner’s fate forever. He decided to try for Fresno airport (north) instead of L.A.
because of the weather conditions around him. In another contact at 9:00 p.m. near Fresno, the
pilot stated "he was flying blind, the ship was iced over, and he was desperate to set down."

At that primitive time frame aircraft navigation was by airport radio beacon, visual beacon
lights and landmarks, radio, and the stars. All means were eventually eliminated as the
stricken airliner continued to its death in one of the worst storms of the century. No airliner
would attempt to clear the Sierras in such conditions. The plane’s heading was toward one of the
most treacherous and rugged regions of California (Yosemite National Park) 90 miles east of
Fresno. Once TWA 327 overshot Fresno, the struggling airliner didn’t stand a chance, as it
continued northeast into what was later stated to have been a 0-visibility snowstorm. At one
point the plane was actually spotted from the ground navigating the San Joaquin River, at about
500 feet, landing lights piercing the sleet and gloom. The pilots appeared to be urgently
searching for a clearing where they could belly-land the plane. Following the river was likely the
only recognizable landmark they could locate in the whiteout. The plane disappeared into the
cold dark horizon- its droning engines growing more and more faint- lights fading. This is the
last time Flight 327 was seen or heard and the plane was never to be found- at least initially.

Finally, on a somber Sunday morning,
June 12, 1938, the wreckage was located by Fresno
resident, Henry O. Collier. The 23-year old Collier worked at the Del Monte Packing Company
in Fresno as a “Weigher” and had devoted his week’s vacation to gold prospecting at Bass Lake
and perhaps finding the lost airliner. With much research under his belt as to the accident and
prior search by TWA, he set out to an area he knew well and which he thought... just perhaps...
the airliner may have ended up. With great effort, as snows were just starting to melt, he
satisfied a quest to find the airliner on foot. This he did indeed accomplish, northeast of
Wawona, at 100 feet below the south summit of Buena Vista Crest (near the 9,698 ft. Buena
Vista Peak). What Henry found, after he fought his way up one last treacherous slope was
numbing, and likely, even after the long trek (in which he had much time to contemplate his
quest) he was quite taken aback. The airliner was scattered below the summit of a rugged peak
(the highest in southern Yosemite) in not just a few sections, but thousands of pieces. He was
said to state he looked inside the fuselage and counted 8 unrecognizable bodies. One body was
later found nearby and had been thrown clear at impact. However, likely more accurate, was the
report from the recovery team which found 8 bodies strewn over an area of 500 feet- 1 inside
the fuselage- clothing and debris in tree branches. The rear of the fuselage with a piece of tail
section hung from a tree. The wreck had likely been buried in spring snows until just recently.

Even though the plane had enough fuel to fly until midnight it did not burn and explode. All
occupants were thought to have died on impact after the airliner hit the peak with tremendous
force, at it is thought perhaps as much as 200 m.p.h. The dual Wright Cyclone engines, full
throttle, screaming @ 1540 H.P., were no match for a crippled plane laden with fatal icing and
no lift in a virtual blizzard! The giant DC-2 sheared off three trees simultaneously at 50 feet and
continued another 300 yards where it was ripped apart after it impacted a giant tamarack and
came to rest amid craggy car-sized boulders. The location was 32 miles northwest of the area
combed by Jack Frye and TWA search officials in March. After locating the wreckage, Collier
trudged 12 hours on foot through rugged wilderness to a manned N.F.S. office where he
reported the find to rangers and produced artifacts which included a TWA pilot cap and briefcase
of  Hervey Salisbury (passenger). Forest service rangers immediately contacted TWA by
shortwave radio with the long awaited news. Henry Collier became an instant hero!

This young man (Collier) is deeply thanked for his efforts. On his first attempt to the supposed
wreck site he lost his shoes in a creek and had to walk 12 miles back to the valley barefoot to
buy another pair. Eventually, he retraced his route to where he finally found the TWA airliner
wreck site. His determined efforts gave the victims peace and a proper burial. It appears Collier
was able to collect the reward, even some 3-months later, from a grateful Jack Frye.

The remains were removed by mule train on
June 14, 1938 after a 20-mile trek through rugged
wilderness in a grisly recovery effort. A recovery, likely none of the 35 team members ever
forgot. On trails, with 15 miles buried in 5 feet of snow, the team trudged on with members, to
include, NFS officials, TWA administrators, county officials, Department of Commerce
investigators, and AP reporters. The bodies were transported to Wawona to waiting hearses
where they were motored to Fresno to be claimed by families. The body found in the fuselage?
That was none other than the TWA Hostess Martha Mae Wilson. To the bitter end she stood by
her passengers never leaving their sides and died in the fuselage all alone. This young 22-year
old kept a red smock with her for cold evening flights, the red material, like a signal flag, was
spotted by the searchers in the broken fuselage, still cloaking young Martha's cold limp body.  

From a massive rescue effort which commenced on March 1, 1938, to a somber recovery effort
on
June 14, 1938, 9 airline crash victims were brought home, it was finally over. I can only hope
for the many who have traversed the wreck site and searched for souvenirs, that it is not
forgotten how many anxious hours went into the desperate search for survivors and recovery.
The site is sacred and one hopes hikers who go there will proceed with respect and reverence.

In Memorial- To Honor and Remember

TWA Captain John Dunbar Graves 35
(Palo Alto, CA.)
TWA Co-Pilot Clyde Wyatt Wallace 29 (formerly Tucson, AZ.)
TWA Hostess Martha Mae Wilson 22 (local Philadelphia girl)

Passengers:
Hervey Melvin Salisbury 34 (TWA co-pilot riding on a TWA Flight Pass
Walnut Grove CA. and Kansas City, MO., enroute to Winslow for flight duty)
Jay Tracy Dirlam 22 (Mansfield, Ohio)
Mary Louise Dirlam 18 (siblings attending Stanford University)
Mr. Victor Krause (Lincoln, Nebraska)   
Mr. L. B. Walts (Beiber, CA., some media sources cite San Francisco)
Mrs. L. B. Walts (Beiber, CA., enroute to Reading, PA., the Walts were formerly from Reading)

Note: The Dirlams were urgently returning home to be with their gravely ill father who died
within a week. He was never told his beloved children were missing on a isolated mountain top.
Most of the victims were young and at the dawning of their lives. What a tragedy.
Flight Of Doom-
Dedicated To Lost Souls Who
Above is a rare photo of the TWA Northrop Gamma 2D (NC13758) captured by Peter M. Bowers.
I am honored to have obtained this original Bowers photograph from about 1938. Bowers was a
prolific aircraft photographer (also an aviator) who contributed greatly to the photographic
documentation of aviation. The location of this shot is unknown but possibly Los Angeles or
K.C., both frequent stops for Frye, who utilized the plane for 5 years on cross-country business
flights. TWA Research? This plane was used occasionally by Tomlinson as an official TWA
research ship with re-registration to (X13758) during flight tests; however, it is a gross
misconception that this end was the only use of this plane which served more so as Jack Frye's
private executive plane. For most of its service with TWA the Gamma displayed the stenciling
"Experimental Overweather Laboratory". Above we see the lettering "Air Express" on the nose
and "TWA" (in crimson red outlined in black) on the rear fuselage. Other lettering is 2
compartments below the cockpit "Radio" and "Battery". The Gamma 2D was a formidable
speedster capable of over 200 m.p.h., with range of 2000 miles, giving Jack Frye an unheard of
private plane (for the day) which few pilots had the opportunity to experience. The Gamma was
not only rare, but a very expensive racer used primarily by very experienced sport pilots.
Perished In Airline Crashes
The Fate Of TWA NC13789
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. DC-2 112
14-passenger NC13789 C/N 1299 TWA fleet #327
Value 85 thousand dollars
SFO to ABQ (connecting flight) lightly loaded
3 crew members 6 passengers
Disappeared
March 1, 1938 after 9:30 p.m.
60-planes involved in a massive search directed
by no other than TWA President Jack Frye
himself as explored above

An airliner crash is a terrible tragedy to behold
leaving passengers and crew alone with no
earthly means of salvation. The passengers and
crew on board TWA NC13789 were most
assuredly in their darkest hour and knew that
survival (in what became the worst spring
storm in 60 years) was not likely. Picturesque
Yosemite Valley (right) in all its glory with lush
meadows seen in the 1930's. Located just
18-air-miles north of the crash site. If TWA
NC13789 had just made it to this open valley
passengers and crew may have been rescued.
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Credit: The image seen above was originally used by a media-news agency (International News
Photo). The image was not owned by news service agencies around the country which reproduced
the image, rather it was on loan. The original photographer is unknown and this image is not
thought to hold a renewed (current) copyright. This original vintage 1934 photo is owned by
Sedona Legend. Further information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be found at
the bottom of Page 2010. Click on any photos on this website for larger files.
Information accompanying this image in 1934
states that Ted Herbert was the Field Manager
at Newark Airport. The cross-country time
noted was 11 hours 28 and 1/2 minutes (this
among a variety of "official" times. The plane
was Frye's personal transport NR13757. Jack
understandably looks exhausted in this image.
Fastest Mail Delivery For 1934!
This promo flight was conducted under a
temporary mail contract and was the first such
resumption of the U.S. Mail by a commercial
carrier. The last such trip was also conducted by
Frye on February 18, 1934 in the luxury
airliner 'City of Los Angeles'. Frye shared the
record with Eddie Rickenbacker but Frye
piloted the plane for a majority of the flight
this due to Rickenbacker not possessing a
transport pilot's license. This last
demonstration by Frye convinced the U.S.
Government once and for all to surrender the
delivery of the U.S. Mail to the airlines. The
rugged Gamma was revolutionary design suited
for all cross-country mail-express service
conditions, night flying or daytime use, but was
soon eclipsed by the multi-use Douglas
Commercial. The Northrop was short-lived only
by size. The DC series airliners enabled the
airlines to fly the mail (and passengers) which
was a more efficient and profitable application.
Credit: The image above was originally used by
a media-news agency (AP). It is a vintage
wire-photo or what we would categorize today as
a copy of an original used for various news
publications. The image was not owned by news
service agencies (in the field) who reproduced
(published) the image, rather it was on loan.
The original photographer is unknown and this image is not thought to hold a renewed
(current) copyright. This vintage wire-photo from 1934 is owned by Sedona Legend. Further
information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be found at the bottom of Page 2010.
Massive Flooding Immobilizes East- Frye Loans His Northrop
Gamma NR13758 For Emergency Flights
Frye’s Private Northrop Drafted For Emergency Service
Source TWA Skyliner (April 1936)

The flying equipment called into emergency service by TWA included more than the Skyliners
with which all scheduled flights normally are carried on. Obsolete trimotors, once used in
general service over the system, again were put into use and transported a variety of express
shipments in addition to both airmail and first class mail. The single engined monoplane used by
Jack Frye, president of TWA, in much of his traveling over the system, also went into service
for the emergency and supplemented the work of other craft in transporting cargoes between
Newark, Camden, and Pittsburgh. The evacuations started after the initial
March 17th flooding.  

This crisis was the massive flooding which overtook the eastern part of the United States
(Pittsburgh and Johnstown) necessitating the need for air evacuations which were shouldered by
various national air services. As reported in media sources in the week of March 20, one of the
planes loaned was “ a Northrop Gamma mail plane” belonging to Jack Frye, president of TWA.
This plane was flown by TWA pilots (not Frye) shuttling supplies in and out of the treacherous
low ceiling areas which were inundated with heavy rain and snow. The route of the Gamma was
primarily a supply line operated from Camden to Pittsburgh and back. The Northrop Gamma
NR13758 flew constant round trips day and night, no sooner would it land than it would be back
in the air again, a valuable and very maneuverable ship for this unique application. Other
available TWA ships were also drafted for this emergency to include three TWA Sky Chiefs,
with lead TWA pilot, A.M. Wilkins. At the end of the emergency shuttle duty, TWA president
Jack Frye again resumed control of his ship and took off from Camden to land in Pittsburgh.
After off-loading a full load of express he departed again into the rain soaked southwest horizon
to land at his TWA offices at Kansas City, later in the day
(March 21 or 22). Flood waters
gradually receded and life returned to normal for thousands of displaced flood stricken citizens.
Frye's Personal Planes Were Well-Known @ Nationwide Airports
N.Y.C. National Aviation Show
Featured Guest
- Northrop Gamma
Grand Central Palace- N.Y.C. Jan-Feb 1937
Courtesy TWA Skyliner Magazine
Although I have been searching for an image of TWA NC13789, Fleet Number 327, taken before
the accident at Yosemite, I have not, as yet, located more than the photograph above and below.
The above DC2-112, S/N 1298 (although not the one that crashed at Buena Vista Peak) is an
exact copy and sister of the ship cited. As seen (above) this TWA airliner is NC13788, Fleet
Number 326, located at (ABQ) Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was the eventual destination of
NC13789 (pre-crash). The date of the above image is about 1939 or 1940. Photographer and
provenance of photo is unknown. A new external link for the crashed airliner can be
found here.
Jack Frye flew in and out of ABQ airport so often everyone knew him by name. Transports
seen at ABQ (above) in about 1939, are a beautiful Continental Lockheed Super Electra 14
(NC17392, C/N 1431) and several TWA DC 2 112's, (NC13717, C/N 1243), (NC13788, C/N 326)
and (NC18953, C/N 1934), the pinnacle of the TWA Douglas Commercial era. Photographer and
provenance of this time-capsule is unknown. Frye helped developed this regional TWA airport.
The Search For Photos Of The Doomed TWA Transport
TWA DC2 NC13789,
photographed on a  
unknown previous
flight, prior to the plane
being destroyed on
Buena Vista Peak at
Yosemite National Park
in California. The
image was entered in a
photo contest by a TWA
employee (fall of 1940).
Certainly surprising
that this clearly
identified airliner was
even considered in view
of the tragedy 2 years
earlier. I wonder if the
significance was
overlooked.
TWA Flight Of Destruction
NC13789 Fleet Number 327
Jack Frye rocketed cross country regularly in his Northrop Gamma "speedster-rocket". These
trips by Frye, who always maintained an executive plane, earned him the famous nickname
nationwide “The Flying President”. He was the only airline president at the time who literally
managed his company from the air! This is why he became a TWA legend and was the glue that
held early TWA together. (See
September 2, 1938, PHX, Page 1938, for another Gamma flight.)

Scooting Along at 241 m.p.h.
Monday November 15, 1937
Jack Frye pilot-photographer was the source of news 'copy' on this date which mentioned he
landed at Amarillo after a flight from Boulder City on his way to Kansas City. He spent Sunday
and departed Monday morning. Frye was interviewed at the airport with his “private Northrop
Gamma” which he stated covered the 800-flight-miles between Nevada and Texas in three hours
and 22 minutes @ 241 m.p.h. Frye, who was said to have been “burning the breeze” in his plane,
stated he managed to pilot the ship and take photographs at the same time, capturing a “few
good shots” from an altitude of 15,000 feet. Frye was in Boulder City on business and he is
establishing new TWA passenger service to Boulder, Nevada with stops at Amarillo, Texas.

TWA President Guest at Amarillo
February 27, 1938
Yesterday, Frye landed briefly at Amarillo in his private Northrop Gamma on his way to Boulder
Nevada where TWA is initiating new scenic service next month. From Boulder the TWA
president is continuing to Fresno where he will organize a search for a TWA airliner recently
missing on a flight from San Francisco California to Winslow Arizona (to ABQ).
Credit: The image seen above was originally used by a media-news agency. The image was not
owned by news service agencies around the country which reproduced the image, rather it was
on loan. The original photographer is unknown and this image is not thought to hold a renewed
(current) copyright. This original vintage 1938 photo is owned by Sedona Legend. Further
information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be found at the bottom of Page 2010.
President Of TWA Arrives At Fresno
Credit: The image(s) seen above and below were originally used by a media-news agencies. The
image(s) were not owned by news service agencies around the country which reproduced the
image(s) rather they were on loan. The original photographer is unknown and this image(s) are
not thought to hold renewed (current) copyrights. These original vintage 1935 photo(s) are
owned by Sedona Legend. Further information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be
found at the bottom of Page 2010.
Jack Frye and Eugene Luther Vidal appear (above) on February 15, 1935 at an air safety
conference in Washington D.C. Vidal is the father of Gore Vidal and was at the time of this
photo Director of Air Commerce (1933-1937), he also served as General Manager of
Transcontinental Air Transport (1926) and a later a director of Northeast Airlines. Eugene was a
famous athlete and an accomplished pilot known for his acumen of air flight and safety, and was
supposed to have been linked romantically with Amelia Earhart. In another press photo seen
(below) Jack Frye is present with Paul Richter at the same Senate Commerce Sub-Committee
Hearing as above which was probing airline safety issues. This agency was the predecessor of the
later Civil Aeronautics Authority (C.A.A.). Note: Although the image below was tagged by the
press as 1936, research shows it was likely taken at the same time as the one above with Vidal.
One of the last images of Frye's TWA Northrop Gamma 2D NC13757 is shown (above) as
captured by aviation photographer, Charles G. Mandrake. This image was taken between May
13, 1934 and January 11, 1935 at which time the plane was surveyed (removed from service with
TWA). The location is unknown, but notice the canopy is slightly open, as if Frye will return any
moment on another cross-country jaunt for TWA. Not fully visible in this image is the flight
record Jack Frye completed with this Gamma (as stenciled on the fuselage) which reads:
'Holder- Los Angeles-New York Air Mail Record 11 HRS. - 31 MIN.' A milestone for Frye.  

Upon purchase of the photo from Mandrake's daughter Tina we learn the following: "My
Father, Charles G. Mandrake, was all over the northeast area. They would travel to New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Chicago, Cleveland, and Virginia areas to get a glimpse of the airplanes. He knew
at a young age that air travel would be the wave of the future. My Father took quite a few
photographs along with his Father. However, he knew other aviation pilots, workers, collectors
& family members of them. He also knew some of the Army Air corps to the latter U.S. Air
Force persons like - Major Wm. F. Yeager, which they shared many photographs etc... Another
friend was Pappy Weaver, one of the key aviation historians. It is so important for this history
to be shared & remembered for how the developments of these great Aviation Legends made
life as we know it happen. Thank you for helping keep the wonderful Aviation History Alive."
Another great image from the Charles G. Mandrake collection (via his daughter Tina) of the
TWA Northrop Gamma (X 13758) Experimental Overweather Laboratory. Designated (X) only
when it was officially undergoing flight experiments by Frye or Tomlinson. This plane served as
Frye's executive plane as implemented nation-wide from 1935 to 1940. At this juncture it was
replaced by the larger Lockheed Electra Jr. (fall of 1940). Rarely seen in Gamma images is the
(TWA Circle & Arrow) on the NACA cowling. At first I assumed this circle was added late in
the plane's tenure with TWA but I found the marking in a 1935 photo too. The event pictured
above is likely an airshow evidenced by people milling about. It appears a view platform was set
up adjoining the other side of this monstrous machine as one visitor is looking at the engine
supercharger at the front port side. Interesting, this image clearly shows the tarmac-facing side
of the TWA terminal and Jack's executive office. Frye could look out at the TWA transports,
arriving and departing, from his corner office anytime day or night, keeping a close eye on
schedule and efficiency of his airline's day to day operations. When not in his office, Frye was
in this very transport, zipping coast to coast, monitoring nationwide TWA operations. Frye
knew nearly all his employees on a first-name basis when he visited each TWA airport.
Just prior to the flight below (and after Jack's record breaking flight) the Gamma was spotted
at Newark, N.J. Images owned and graciously submitted by Hector Vazquez, MSgt USAF.
TWA Northrop Gamma 2D shown in front of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. Hangar at
Kansas City. This image purchased on E-Bay was gifted to Sedona Legend by
Cindy Boeing. In
this image the plane had been re-registered as NX13758 indicating TWA's Tommy Tomlinson
and Jack Frye were conducting flight tests with the ship. This registration was always limited
and only utilized when the plane was conducting 'official' flight tests.
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