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
educational and entertainment purposes. Some materials may be displayed in regard to the
United States Fair Use Act. This web portal is totally non-profit and generates no income nor
does it seek or has it ever accepted a single donation. It is an independent venture.
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
In His Own Words-
a year and a half in the life as
Jack Frye's L12 Pilot- TWA #240 NC18137
Dedicated to Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. Pilot-
Russell H. Robinson & his daughter Dorothy Robinson Nylen
Purchased by Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., (TWA) for use as an executive plane to
serve TWA President Jack Frye. This Lockheed was occasionally utilized as a TWA "flying
laboratory" research plane. It was always reserved for Jack Frye's use and saw TWA service
between September 1940 to December 1944. Note: this plane was used by Jack and Helen Frye
to discover and purchase their famous Sedona Arizona ranch (now as Red Rock State Park).
Lockheed (L12A) Junior, Electra, NC18137, NX18137, TWA Fleet Number 240, c/n 1229.
Photo captured by TWA pilot Robby Robinson (1942). All Rights Reserved
TWA Pilot Russell "Robby" H. Robinson
R. H. Robinson served as Jack Frye’s personal pilot and
co-pilot. Along with these duties he also served as
'Special Assistant' to Mr. Frye from October 1942 to
late spring of 1944. Russell was known to the Fryes by
the nickname of "Robby" although others may have
known him as Bob or Robbie. "Robby" is the name on
Sedona Legend as used by Helen Frye.
Per Jack Frye- Robby was also a Transcontinental &
Western Air 'First Officer' who while employed by Frye
also became a certified pilot on TWA DC-3's.
Back Story- Sedona Legend Editorial
The creation of the Frye web presence has been a great adventure if not more than a little
laborious at times. Every so often I am contacted by a person who is connected with the Frye
legacy who has such an amazing contribution that I am absolutely bowled over. In this case- a
story that was totally forgotten for some 60 years, offered by a lady whose father was one of
Jack Frye’s private pilots on his famous Lockheed 12A. She had seen the Frye presence on the
Internet and wanted to share her father's story. From 68-year-old letters I began to extract the
story of an energetic 25-year-old old employee of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. who by
incredible tenacity and talent became the executive private pilot for Jack Frye, president of
TWA. This story is presented below and entitled simply- "In His Own Words" as written in
letters to his parents. Invaluable historical insights are revealed regarding Frye, TWA, and the
complications of a ambitious young pilot working for an airline at the onset and duration of
World War II.
It must be noted that during this time-frame personnel at TWA were at a minimum. Not only
was executive vice-president Paul Richter on leave from 1942 to 1946 leaving John A. Collings
to fill his position, but there was a critical shortage of TWA pilots as well. This made it quite
difficult at times for Jack Frye to assign a crew member to serve as co-pilot on his personal
executive planes. It may seem, in reading the following excerpts from letters, that Jack was
bypassing TWA protocol, but the circumstances were more so that he was trying to utilize
personnel not needed for scheduled Transcontinental & Western Air flight service.
Unfortunately, the then TWA Pilot's Union was less than cooperative in adhering to executive
orders or understanding the complications of TWA operations during this uncharted period. It
should be clarified that the 12A was an "official" corporate plane used for critical presidential
business by Frye. It was used "privately" for the most part only as Jack could coordinate
business trips with "in-transit" personal trips. Few TWA associates realize Frye's position with
TWA was literally 24/7.
The Ship- Frye's Private Lockheed
1937 Lockheed (L12) 12A c/n 1229 NC18137
(Original) Lockheed configurations:
2 pilots and 6 passengers
Twin engine- (2) 450 H.P. Pratt and Whitney power plants, 200 Gallons fuel load
Cruise speed better than 200 m.p.h. (210 m.p.h. @ 7000 feet)
as noted on a Frye flight by co-pilot Robby.
The following details have been lost for over 70 years by all NC18137 owners. At the onset of
TWA ownership the Lockheed 12A was retrofitted by either Lockheed Aircraft or TWA.
First two passenger seats removed- in this space (2) auxiliary (48) gallon fuel tanks were
mounted. Increased fuel load- 298 gallons- resulting in “a safe 6-hours of flight time". This
made it possible for President Frye and passengers to fly non-stop from (Kansas City to
Washington D.C.) and (Kansas City to Winslow, A.Z.) according to Frye's pilot Robinson this
enabled the Lockheed Twin to fly from Kansas City to Winslow in the same time it took a DC-3
to reach Columbus, Ohio. Passenger capacity was reduced from 6 to 4 (2 pilots-4 passengers).
Robbie further notated that Jack's L12 had a 1200 mile range @ 210 m.p.h., with 6 hrs. aloft.
Technical notes and details as seen above are documented in the Robinson letters as found on
this web page. The information is a stunning discovery and solves the mystery of known
passenger loads on various trips and makes this 12A very unique!
According to Robinson the only Transcontinental & Western Air personnel qualified and
officially trained to operate the Lockheed NC18137 were:
TWA President: Jack Frye
TWA Captain: W. R. “Bill" Hendenquist
TWA Division Chief Pilot: Mr. Roby
TWA Frye Pilot: Russell (Robby) Robinson
Please note- Paul Richter also flew the 12A, primarily at its onset with TWA. This information
was not mentioned by Robinson but was likely unknown to him because Richter was serving
with the military overseas and on leave from TWA while Robby was employed there.
By Russell "Robby" H. Robinson The following are "excerpts" of Robby's letters, only as they
pertained to TWA and the Fryes. They appear as submitted by Dorothy Robinson Nylen.
Signed personal photo- from Jack and Helen Frye to Robby
The photo to the right was sent to Robby by the Fryes as
a remembrance of his service with them as their private
pilot. The photo was inscribed by Helen as seen below-
"To Robby, our friend and pilot, with best wishes, Helen
and Jack Frye, 1944."
The image is dated December 1940, before Jack Frye
and Helen Vanderbilt were married at Echo Canyon,
near where they were staying at the Camelback Inn,
Scottsdale Arizona. It can be followed in newspapers
Jack Frye's trip to Arizona in his private Lockheed
Electra 12A NC18137 to marry Mrs. Cornelius
Vanderbilt, Jr. and the subsequent wedding on Jan 1,
1941. The Fryes, later, departed in their TWA Lockheed
12A to California, and Florida for a honeymoon!
However, this was scheduled around and with TWA
business, as was Jack's harried life. This image was sent
to Robby by the Fryes and was from Jack and Helen's
private photo collection (as mentioned by Helen in a
letter below). Stunning image of Helen Vanderbilt and
Jack Frye at the onset of their legacy together.
Please note- the flights mentioned in Frye's Lockheed 12A NC 18137 below- are only the flights
Robby mentioned in his letters to his parents. It is possible Robby piloted other flights not
mentioned in his letters home.
Many images on this page
are linked to larger files.
Robby's actual letters- Life @ TWA-
December 31, 1941
The story is this, I have passed the physical as I told Ted, (brother of Russell) and I start to
work for TWA on the 5th of January, but before they will pay me for my time, I have to fulfill
all of their requirements. That means that I have to have my instrument rating. They made
arrangements with the operator to complete my time, at my expense of course.... I have a very
nice apartment now. It costs me $35.00 per month with everything furnished but the food. The
address in case you haven’t already got it, is “1004 Locust Street, Apt. 412, Kansas City,
Missouri." It is just one block from the YMCA. Happy New Year to all. Love, Bob
January 1, 1942
Dear Mrs. Robinson and Ted -
Before Bob left, we agreed that the most economical thing to do would be for me to wait until
he had finished his training and he had been assigned a definite base. But, gee, I got five
airmail letters and three telegrams telling me he was too lonesome to do things right and for
me to come immediately - so I’m on my way- I expect he has written to you and told you his
plans- but here’s what news I’ve received so far anyway-
1. Passed physical examination (Really stiff) - declared in A1 condition.
(weighed 180 lbs before he left)
2. Completing practice on his instrument rating now - trying to get it finished by Jan. 5th.
3. Then he starts training in the TWA school Jan 5th, instrument rating or no instrument
rating, by that time his pay will start in full on that date, but if not his pay will start as soon as
he obtains it.
4. The training will last from 4 to 6 weeks - then he will be put on a run for 2 weeks - after
which he’ll be assigned a base for 1 year - Signed, Lois
January 7, 1942
Perhaps this will help to enlighten you on my situation here. I was one of twelve men to take
the entrance physical which lasted almost three and 1/2 hours (these twelve were selected from
six hundred applicants). I was one of the four that passed the physical and one of the two that
passed it without a reexamination. We started classes at nine, Monday the fifth, there are four
in the class and we were told today that we are to be the last class for the duration of the war
unless the government gives the airlines another bunch of new ships. As yet I have not
completed my instrument rating the weather has been too cold to practice, as the ship is an
open plane. TWA has made arrangements with some insurance company for their employees,
which enables them for a small monthly payment, for us it would be about five or six dollars, to
cover themselves and their families with life insurance, (1500.00 each) and also hospitalization
and compensation at the rate of $25.00 per week while laid up. I talked to one fellow who had
had an opportunity to use his and he said he would not be without it now. The Co. also paid him
his regular wages while he was laid up. The more I become acquainted with this company the
more I wonder why I even considered United at all.
April 15, 1942
Hilton Hotel, Albuquerque, N.M.
I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrived here Monday at 7 AM, and as there has been a
bunch of Captains out here, they keep bumping me off and taking return trips to K.C. May go
back tonight if no one else comes along. Bob
October 2, 1942
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. National Airport, Washington, D.C.
Dear Mom, Dad, Peg & Ted-
Look where I am! Yes, Washington D.C. I came here as copilot to Jack Frye, President of
T.W.A. I can better understand what you meant about Washington now Dad. What a “High
jinking joint” this is. If it weren’t the Capital of parasites and procrastinators, it would be a
very beautiful place. I have not been able to get around much as I must be ready to go when
ever Mr. Frye is ready to go. We are using his ship, a Lockheed 12, a 8 place twin engine plane
that cruises better than 200 m.p.h. It took us just 4 hrs and 25 minutes to get here from K.C.
Lockheed model 12A, NC18137. Appropriately
called "Research" as seen to the left in a TWA
employee publication photo, (Skyliner Magazine).
Jack worked at the TWA executive office in
Washington D.C., and lived with Helen at the TWA
executive residence (Doubleday Mansion) Falls
Church (Arlington) Virginia. Jack's executive
transport, the Lockheed Electra 12A was often seen
parked at the DCA, TWA Terminal. (Photo 1942)
As reflected in the above photo the plane was constantly maintained by TWA
ground crews (shown above is Chester Calkins). This stellar TWA service enabled
the ship to be utilized by Frye on a moment's notice. This Lockheed was in constant
use by Frye and criss-crossed the country almost weekly on Frye TWA business.
The photo was taken when Robby was the pilot of the plane.
November 5, 1942
Dear Dad and Mom-
I am very, very busy now and I am not at home very much. The reason is that I am in the
process of getting my Airline Pilots rating. I made another trip to Washington D.C. with Mr.
Frye, the 21st to the 30th of last month, and on the way back we stayed over night in St. Louis.
While eating breakfast the next morning he said that I was to tell Mr. Roby our Div. Chief
Pilot, that I was to be checked out in the Lockheed. When I spoke to the C.A.A. inspector
about his going with us and giving me a H.P. and Multi-Engine rating instead, that it would only
take ten or fifteen minutes longer, so I spoke to the Chief Pilot, Mr. Rice, and he said that he
could see no reason why I shouldn’t. At any rate I now have passed the written examination
(missed but one quest.) and have but the flight test left to take. All of this does not make me a
Captain any sooner, but it does place me in a much better position to learn more, fly more, and
who knows what else. I will also have the distinction of being the only First Officer with an
Airline Rating and also the only one checked out in the Lockheed. I will also be qualified to act
as first pilot in the Lockheed in case we should get any charter flights in it. There are only
three pilots qualified in the Lockheed now, Mr. Frye, Mr. Roby, and one of our Captains, Mr.
Hedinquist. Well, I guess that is enough of that for this time.
November 26, 1942
Dear Mom and Dad-
I almost called you up from Winslow last Sunday, but as I was financially embarrassed, and did
not feel you would appreciate another collect call. I left here last Thursday on 1 1/2 hours notice
with Mr. Frye. We flew from KC to AO to AQ to WO (Kansas City Amarillo Albuquerque
Winslow) stayed that night there and the next morning we went to his ranch (about 5000 acres
including Gov. summer range) which is about 25 mi. East of Cottonwood, Arizona, on Oak
Creek. There is a pretty fair field at Cottonwood, that is where we landed. After we unloaded I
stayed in WO until Monday night I got a phone call from Phoenix, they had driven down in
their car, so Tuesday morning I flew down there and picked them up and then we went to El
Paso Texas. We stayed all night there and then we returned her to KC. I guess I have already
told you, but the plane is a Lockheed model 12-A, it has two Pratt & Whitney 450 H.P. engines,
cruises at 210 m.p.h. at 7000 ft. Originally the ship carried six passengers and two pilots but
when TWA got it they rebuilt it and now it can only carry four passengers as the first two seats
have been removed and two 48 gal. gas tanks have been installed, giving the ship a total gas
load of 298 gal. This gives it a safe six hours fuel supply. We are able to fly non-stop from KC
to WA, or KC to WO. We can fly from KC to WO in the time it takes a Douglas DC-3 to go
from KC to CO (Columbus, Ohio). To this date I have 1 hr. & 45 minutes check time, and 1 hr.
43 min. solo in the Lockheed in addition to the time I have flown with Mr. Frye. To this date I
have a total of 1859:18 hrs., 1488:46 is in single engine land planes, 32:55 hrs is in single
engine sea planes, and I now have 337:37 hrs. in multi-engined land planes. This may be
further broke down as follows; 98:35 hrs. instrument flying, 226:24 hours night time, and
809:21 hrs of instructing. The young fellow whom I have been training for a job as copilot with
us passed his commercial license with 206 hrs. the minimum time required is 200 hrs., and the
inspector could find nothing wrong with his flying at all. He is now employed as a Student First
Officer by TWA. Note: Robby stated 298 Gallons (but likely he meant 296). The 12A was
equipped to hold a maxium of 200 gallons of fuel load (Lockheed factory specs.)
Above is a poignant yet romantic image of Jack and Helen Frye sitting on Eagle's Nest overlook
(now Red Rock State Park, Sedona Arizona) viewing the Frye Ranch below (where the R.R.S.P.
Visitor Center is now). Both images taken by private Frye pilot Robby Robinson on one of his
trips to the Sedona Frye Ranch in 1942 or 1943.
Several of these images are fuzzy as they
were scanned from slides that Robby
captured on his flights with the Fryes. To
the right is Helen Frye in the same
buckskin jacket as above looking down at
her camera adjoined by three friends.
There is a child seen center and below.
This shot was taken on the extreme
northern boundary of the Frye Ranch near
the base of Cathedral Rock, as seen to the
extreme left of the frame.
December 9, 1942
Dear Mom, Dad Peg & Ted-
Look where I have been now! Last Monday (11-30-42) Mr. Frye called me and told me we were
leaving the first thing Tuesday morning for Corpus Christi, Texas. We were to go by way of
Oklahoma City, Okla. and pick up three congressmen. He was taking them hunting on the
King Ranch. That is how I happen to have this stationary (White Plaza Hotel). I stayed there
while they hunted and took care of the ship and kept one eye on the weather, he has a habit of
calling and wanting to know what it is like when you least expect him to, and I try to always be
one jump ahead of him they were ready to come back Friday evening but the weather was not
ready to let us, so we didn't get back here till Monday night.
You were asking me how I happen to be flying with Mr. Frye. The first time it was purely by
accident, but he has asked for me since. I tried my very best to do everything just as he wanted
that first time and I guess I succeeded. At any rate I did well enough that he requested that I
be checked out in his plane, and now has requested that I obtain a rating to carry passengers in
it by myself. Did I tell you that I flew it alone from his ranch in Winslow and from there to
Phoenix? I was up to his office yesterday and he said he had something planned for me but he
didn’t say what. Said he would go over it with me when he had more time. On the trip to
Corpus Christi, the ones we had with us were Mr. John J. Harden, Dan Tankersley, and Jack
Nickols of Oklahoma City. Know any of them Dad? I got pretty well acquainted with them, at
least enough so that they will remember me a month from now I think.
December 12, 1942
Well I haven’t gotten your letter off yet so will scratch a few lines more. Which is the hardest
to read, this or my jumbled typing? Time is creeping up on me, so will send you the Christmas
cards, and will you please address them and send them on for us? Thank you. To understand
the small pictures and what is written on the back of them, first place them in numbered order
from left to right face down, and by reading across I think you can make it out. They are the
contact prints from 35 mm. film. I will have some larger pictures of same and others to send
pretty soon if I get time to get them made up. If the weather permits and we don’t go
somewhere I am supposed to take my rating flight test in Mr. Frye’s Lockheed Monday. Then I
am to start working in the engine shop whenever I am in Kansas City and get my engine
mechanics license. That will enable me to check the engine on our ship when we are away from
regular TWA places. I am also working on a new set of operating charts and check list for Mr.
Frye’s plane, at the request of the Chief Pilots Office.
Below- please see the image Robby captured and printed on a post card. Date of this ANSCO
postcard was 12-18-1942. Jack was later C.E.O. of ANSCO- GAF- (General Aniline and Film
Corporation) after he left TWA from 1947 to 1955.
Dear Ted, Mom & Dad, 12-18-1942
"Here is a snap of Mr. Frye's plane- it only holds six people, but it cruises at 210 m.p.h. and can
stay up for 6 hr. cont., at an average speed of 200- that would be 1200 miles. I really love it, and
it feels good to have my pilots license now, reading- Single & Multi-Engine- Land & Sea- 0-1200
h.p. Flight Instructor and Instrument Ratings- Love Bob" (Caption as it appears on card above.
When Bob states 6 people, he meant- 2 pilots 4 passengers, this per his notation above on the
planes configuration. This lost fact has heretofore been totally forgotten by time.)
December 28, 1942
Dear Mom, Dad & Ted-
Well - what a day. Got up at 6:30 AM and went to the field to check my mail box, returning to
town for an appointment with the Company Doctor for my pre- Captain physical at 9:00 AM.
Waited around in the Dr.'s office till 10:00. Then undressed for x-rays. About 5 minutes later,
Mr. Frye called and wanted me to go with him to Twitty Texas, leaving KC at 11:30 A.M. Well
did I jump. I got dressed, called Lois to have my stuff ready and ran out and jumped on the bus
for home, took a cab from bus to house, then had him wait while I ran in and changed my
clothes and grabbed my stuff. Then off to the airport. Arrived there at 11:00 A.M. and rushed
in and told the mechanics to get the plane ready.
What a job they had, it was covered with ice. They had to
bring it in the hangar and wash it with hot water and then
dry it off with rags. In the meantime I checked the
weather, made out a flight plan and got my Company
Release. Well I finally was ready to go by 11:40 AM and
also Mr. Frye pulled up just then. So out to the ship to get
loaded and warmed up the engines. We finally got off KC
at 12:45. There were so many ships to go out all at the
same time, and the ceiling was only 1500 feet so they
made us all have 10 minute intervals between departure
times. Balance of trip was very uneventful, arrived in
Twitty, Texas at 2:59 P.M., deposited his folks and their
baggage etc. and took off at 3:11 P.M. arrived back in
Kansas City at 5:28 P.M. On the way back, he informed
me that we would be leaving for Charleston, W. Virginia
tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday) then to Washington
D.C. for a couple of days so I spent the next two hours
turning in flight data and telling the mechanics what I
wanted done to the ship, etc. Then home---
|Helen Frye on a flight to see her family
Clarksburg, W. Virginia, 1942-1943.
January 8, 1943
Well I am still here. Mr. Frye left word for me to phone him at the St. Francis Hotel at 11:00
PM and when I did he wasn’t there, so I am waiting until 11:30 P.M. then I will try again. P.S.
Couldn’t get in touch with Mr. Frye at 11:00 P.M. as instructed so am at the Sir Francis Drake
in San Francisco now, arrived here at 1:00 A.M. 1-9-43. Bob
Remarkably Robby who took many color photos and slides of his trips with Jack and Helen Frye
has left us with this rare treasure. There is no other known color photograph of this plane from
this period of TWA ownership- early 1940's! Notice Jack Frye in leather bomber jacket
kneeling in front of the plane checking the tires. We find in reviewing Robby’s TWA notes that
the date of the photo is either November 19th - November 24th 1942, or another trip to Sedona,
on January 8th - January 13th, 1943. Please click on any images for larger file.
January 17, 1943
Dear Mom & Peg-
Well I am home, arrived here Wednesday night at 6:19 PMC. It was quite a trip, Santa Fe,
Albuquerque, Winslow, Cottonwood, Boulder City, Las Vegas, Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland,
Davis, San Francisco, Boulder City, Winslow, Tucson, El Paso, and Kansas City. I was certainly
glad to get to see all of you, even though it was just for a short time. When I arrived home,
Lois informed me that they had started a new Captain’s class and I was in it. Thursday, I had
to get up real early and go to the airport. There were a lot of things that had to be done on the
Lockheed, that I had to take care of before I went to class. Class started at 9:00 AM, so I
hurried around to find out what I had missed. It turned out that I knew everything they had
the first three days, so all was well. At last I am started on the way to being a Captain, just one
year after going to work for TWA (Thanks to the war of course). Friday, Mr. Frye’s secretary
called me to tell me to get ready to go to Washington D.C. I told her that I was in Captain’s
Well anyway, when Mr. Frye found out, he called the Chief Pilots Office, and requested that I
be excused from class for the trip and be allowed to make it up on our return. They then called
me and told me that it was OK with them and it was up to me what I did. So I called him and
asked him how long we expected to be gone. When he told me ten days to two weeks, I told him
the class would be over in two to three weeks, and it might be rather difficult to dig the
necessary material out with the aid of class discussion. He then said he guessed I was right, that
I had better stay in school. He then asked me to select another First Officer and familiarize
him with the plane and the nature of the job, also to take a look at the weather and let him
know what the situation was. So it ended up that I planned the entire flight, made out the flight
plan and sent them on their way. His present plans are for me to continue flying with him after
I get through school. But because of the war I may not be allowed to. I guess I will just have to
wait and see how it all turns out. I purchased a jig saw and a small metal lathe in El Paso to go
with my saw and motor. Mr. Frye has told me to make a wind tunnel model of my plane design
and set of drawings. He is going to see what Mr. Hughes thinks of it. He likes what I have told
him. So, as you see, there is no cause for my having any idle time on my hands.
Images of the Frye Ranch @ Sedona
More images of trips to the Frye Ranch taken by Frye TWA pilot Robby Robinson. The first
image shows the Frye ranch buildings from where the Apache Fires house was eventually built.
Shown is the pole barn, what looks like the Frye 'guest" house built in the early '40's, and the
Frye headquarters- Willow House (right). It is not clear but looks like a car near the Willow
House. The second photo is the Willow House with geese and Cathedral Rock in the background.
First image to the left is the Frye Ranch from north, pole barn (center) Willow House (right)
and where the Apache Fires house is now (extreme left). The second, from north, is the Frye
Deer-Lick Ranch (left) looking toward Eagle Mountain. This area would now be Cup of Gold and
Cross Creek Ranch. One can see the large pond, white roof barn, and two adjoining houses.
TWA's Robby Robinson took this stunning photo of Sedona's Cathedral Rock, and to the right,
the Frye Smoke Trail Ranch from the area of where the House of Apache Fires is today. All
these images are from late 1942, or early 1943, as taken from a biplane rented by Robby.
Courtesy of Russell (Robby) Robinson Family.
January 25, 1943
Dear Mom, Dad & Peg-
Well I guess you are home now Dad. I would like very much to hear how things went. As you
probably know by now I did not go to Washington D.C. When we arrived back here the evening
of the 13th, Lois informed me that I was in Captains School, so there I have been ever since.
We are supposed to complete the ground school work about the middle of next week. The comes
about 30 or 40 hrs of Transition in DC-3 equipment followed by 70 hrs of line checks. Line
checks are when you fly with a check pilot as acting captain, and he gives you training in the
duties of captain while you fly the regular passenger scheduled flight from Kansas City to New
York. When that is completed, you take your flight test for Airline rating, and you are a full-
fledged Captain. They seem to feel we will be going right through, and be all finished up by
April. I for one certainly hope so. Well the Company Dr. has pronounced me as physically
sound. I completed my annual company physical taking 1 1/2 days the 21st and 22nd. Boy it is
some exam. They test your heart, lungs, breathing, blood pressure, hearing, take blood samples
and type your blood, they feed you barium and with the fluoroscope watch it go through you.
Altogether they took 6 large x-ray pictures and full mouth teeth x-rays. This was followed by a
very complete eye test. And he couldn’t find anything wrong with me.
February 3, 1943
Dear Mom, Dad, Aunt Peg-
Well things are beginning to happen. A meeting was called yesterday afternoon of all student
Captain (27 of us). It seems that the Company does not have a plane available to give us one
DC-3 transition in. The army has allotted a large training program to us to train new Army
pilots to fly DC-3’s. So -- the results are they expect to give us one transition in the Army
planes, then we will work as instructors until we are needed as Captains on the regular
passenger and cargo runs. By so doing we will get 3 or 4 months experience as first pilots on
DC-3 equipment. When it comes to line checks, we will be able to put all our attention to
learning the procedures, as we will be thoroughly familiar with the airplanes and weather flying.
I personally am very much for it. I believe one learns a lot more about an airplane teaching
some one to fly in it, than any other way. These boys they expect us to teach have about 150 to
200 hrs in single engine planes. We are supposed to give them 25 hrs covering take offs and
landing, instrument flying and single engine emergency procedures.
February 4, 1943
As I told you in my last letter, we completed Captains school Tuesday noon and are now waiting
for our turn for transition. There present plans, as expressed today, are for us to start the 15th,
and be completed by the first. Then we are to instruct Army pilots who have just graduated
from Randolph Field and who have just received their commissions as 2N Lts. They each have
between 150 and 200 hours of flying time (Dual and Solo). It will be no picnic that is certain, as
they are a bunch of cocky, self-centered, and know-it-alls. We are supposed to make DC-3 first
pilots out them in 25 hrs. This is twice as bad as CPT they were at least confined to small
February 15, 1943
Dear Mom, Dad, & Peg-
Well I am still doing nothing waiting for my DC-3 transition. The way it looks now, it will be
the 1st of March or later before I even start. I haven’t even flown a plane since January 13th,
when I was with Frye. One month and I am about to go nuts. Times like this make me wish I
was in the Army. I could have gotten a Capt. commission a while back too. There is so darned
much flying to be done, it is a crime that several hundred pilots should be sitting around idle….
Well I guess there is nothing else to till this time. If something doesn’t turn up pretty soon
I’m going to do some investigating. Mr. Frye left for Washington D.C. January 15th and hasn’t
returned yet. As soon as he does I am going to talk to him about the way things are going.
February 16, 1943
Thanks an awful lot for your letter and offer of help. I do not believe it is going to be necessary
for me to get a car. The instructing proposition has blown up. First, the Army did not give us as
many students as they said they would; second, the junior captains and reserve captains raised
a big fuss about it, and third, the Airline Pilots Ass. objected very strongly. So - now my
chances of getting any DC- 3 transition are very slim. It is pretty discouraging. If it wasn’t for
Lois, I would be in the Army. The way I feel, that is just where I want to go. There I would not
have to worry about not getting any flying, and I would also be getting darn good pay. I believe
that if one doesn’t make and save anything now during the war, he is going to be in very bad
shape after the War. Also I would feel that I was contributing some real help to getting this war
over with. I haven’t been up in an airplane since the 13th of January, if I don’t fly soon I will
go nuts. And they say there are no further prospects of my being checked out this year. Well
that is enough about my woe’s, I suppose the disappointment has intensified the darkness of
March 24, 1943
Dear Dad, Mom, Peg & Ted-
I don’t know if you have written since the first of this month or not, a I left KC the morning of
the 3rd for Washington D.C., and I am still here. Mr. Frye expected to be here only a week, but
three have gone by, and we are still here. I spent the first two weeks studying for the written
exam for my Airplane and Engine Mechanics License. Boy were they tough, I think I passed
most of it, but not all. They are each divided into 5 parts, with a total of 300 questions per
exam. At least I know exactly what they expect now, which is more than I did before. Well, we
should be going home pretty soon, I will write a real letter when I get there. right now I have to
do something for Mr. Frye, so will close. Hello to all and keep well. Mrs. Frye spoke of going to
the west coast soon after we get back to KC, so maybe I will be able to see you all.
Who knows? Love, Bob
March 25, 1943
I am sorry I bothered you, but here is the situation. I have been away 4 weeks now here in
Washington. Although I haven’t done a great deal it has been very important that I stay here.
I called Lois on the phone last week, and Beth had fallen and split the scalp on the back of her
head necessitating taking her to the hospital and several stitches had to be taken. Lois said
everything was now getting along OK. I didn’t hear for several days, so yesterday I called
again, and infection had set in and she had had Beth to the hospital every day for a week, and
they were having to drain it. The doctor said it wasn’t necessary to keep her in the hospital, but
Lois had to take her down everyday. About half way through this call Lois started crying and I
am afraid that everything plus my being away so long plus a homesickness she has had for you
and her folks plus the fact that it is only two months till the baby is expected was beginning to
tell on her. I am afraid she will overdo and hurt herself or the baby. She is a lot like you Mom,
she doesn’t complain till she drops and everyone can see that she is done up. She told me the
worst was over and not to worry, but I know she hasn’t been able to get help. Peg I am afraid
would only make matters worse, much as her intentions might be good. So far no financial help
needed I don’t know when I will return it may be Tuesday, or 2 weeks yet, I am acting as Mr.
Frye’s assistant at the present. Love Bob
March 31, 1943
Received your letter this evening and was very glad to get it. I did not expect you to be able or
even consider your taking the train. I knew you could make the plane out of San Francisco to
Boulder City, and so on, to Kansas City, OK. It is not hard to get from San Francisco to Kansas
City, but it is very difficult to go from Kansas City to Boulder City. If it becomes necessary to
take Beth to California while Lois is in the hospital, Mrs. Frye said we could take her out in
the Lockheed. The thing that worries me is that I am away so much, and Lois is really very
much along. All of one relations are out in California. The few that are in Kansas are or
couldn’t be of any help in an emergency. After all Eleanor has John’s folks near by and other
friends besides. It isn’t that I begrudge her any it is just that I must be away a lot, or I won’t
have a job, and we have absolutely no one to call on but our folks, and they are so very far
I think I am going to have to move to the West Coast soon for Lois’s and Beth’s health’s sake.
They have had more colds and other things here than all the rest of the time put together. Well
Mom I hope to see you soon. Who knows, I may be in the Army very soon, that is another good
reason for wanting Lois & Beth better taken care of, mentally as well as physically. In Lois’s
condition, I am afraid it would be very hard on her. At this time of all times. I am not trying to
scare anyone, but I am just the right age, and I am in a position to know more about what is
going on regarding such than you have any idea. After all Mr. Frye hasn’t been spending
every day all day for a week in conference with such men as General Arnold, Marshall, and
George (Harold Lee George) for nothing. Well keep well, and do something with that ranch for
heaven’s sake. If Uncle Harrison wants it kept, why doesn’t he do something about it?
Love to all, Bob
April 8, 1943
Dear Dad and Mom-
I am home again for awhile. We left Washington Saturday April 3rd at 3:47 PME. Mr. Frye had
an appointment with a man in St. Louis for Monday morning, but Mrs. Frye was afraid if we
waited in Washington a bit longer, something would come up and keep us there. Mr. Frye had
worked so hard and such long hours, he had made himself sick. The doctor couldn’t find
anything wrong with him except an excessive nervous strain. To make a long story short, we
went from Washington to Nashville Tennessee where we stayed Saturday night as the guests of
the Vultee Aircraft Corporation’s owner. Sunday morning he took me to the factory where they
are building dive bombers for the British and U.S. Army.
We left there Sunday afternoon and went to St. Louis for Sunday night and Monday morning,
returning to Kansas City about 2:00 PMC. Monday. It was 34 days 7 hrs since I left the house.
At present I am having my teeth taken care of, had a tooth pulled yesterday, left 1st molar. I
have two wisdom teeth yet to come out and two to be filled. The reason I lost this tooth is
because decay set in under the filling. (Courtesy of Moyar of Salinas). In addition to my teeth, I
am waiting to get my DC-3 transition, which will be followed by line checks and final OK as a
regular Captain. If nothing goes wrong, I should be through by the tenth of June. Than I hope
to take my vacation. While I am waiting around, I am working with another TWA pilot
overhauling and repairing private airplanes for $1.50 per hr. We have more work than we can
handle, and expect to hire a couple of mechanics a helpers.
April 19, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad-
You can bet it was a very pleasant surprise to hear from you on the phone the other night. Lois
and Beth got off OK and arrived sometime Friday evening. I got a telegram saying they arrived
OK, but no letters yet. Received your letter from Portland today. Tell Ted he could write me a
letter, that I would like very much to hear from him. Well I am finally getting on toward
checking out as a captain. I have 7 ¼ hrs out of the 12 hours DC-3 transition we receive, and
then comes line checks. They are supposed to start around the first of May. The really tough
part is just getting started. Right now I am trying to master the DC-3 under all conditions,
single engine etc.
April 25, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad-
How’s things? This has been a pretty lonely day for me. It was raining when I woke up this AM,
it was instrument weather so I stayed home and cleaned up the house. Did I tell you I had
joined the Civil Air Patrol. I am a 2n Lt., and I have charge of light training. Next am to
receive the rank of 1st Lt. and Master pilot rating, the highest there is. We wear regular army
uniforms and insignias except for red shoulder straps and silver instead of gold ornaments. We
are treated as regular Army personnel in all cases. It is pretty good too, for if any of us were to
be called by draft boards, we can go on active duty with the rank and pay we hold in CAP. Yet
we cannot be called except by our draft board.
April 30, 1943
Dear Dad and Mom-
My flying with Mr. Frye is costing me a lot right now. I came up for change from apprentice to
regular member of the Airline Pilots Assoc., and because of my flying with Mr. Frye it was
refused, or in other words I was kicked out. That is another good reason why I want to get away
from here. I applied to Douglas Aircraft Company for a job as engineering test pilot provided it
was permanent, both now and after the war, and I am waiting to hear from them. I have been
reclassified 3A3 by the Draft Board. Well write as often as you can and want to. I more than
welcome letters now. Love, Bob
May 9, 1943
Dear Mom and Dad-
I am flying schedules again now. Flying into New York that is, until I start line checks. I will
very likely not fly with Mr. Frye any more. It has caused me no end of trouble. The whole thing
is this - Some of our pilots are very jealous of the fact that I flew with Mr. Frye and because he
let me fly his ship. As a result I have been refused regular membership in the Air Line Pilots
Ass. or in other words the Air Line Pilots Union. The result of that are that the check pilots will
not OK anyone to Captains status unless they are members of the ALPA, as I am not my
chances of every becoming a Captain are very slim, about one in one-hundred. I am going to
try for it anyway and also I am going to try and straighten out the misunderstanding those
jealous pilots have..... Well we leave tomorrow for KC at 11:00 AME, so guess I will close for
this time. Bob
June 12, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad-
Just a line to say hellow, and tell you I haven’t forgotten you. I have been terribly busy. I have
been operating an Aircraft Repair Shop as well as my CAP activities and TWA. I am going to
try and take my vacation next month and I'll be out to see you if I do. My troubles at TWA
(ALPA) are coming to a head, and the results may be that I will leave TWA. The ALPA is
bringing pressure to bear on all the Captains, causing them to refuse to fly with me, and to
make it impossible for me to check out as Captain. I was supposed to have started line
checking the first of this week, but the check pilot wouldn’t accept me. The Chief Pilots Office
is taking the matter up with the Vice-President and the Company Lowers are also working on
the matter. They are supposed to have some sort of an answer, or information for me the
middle of this next week. It is just another case of a “Dam” union.
June 17, 1943
Dear Mom and Dad-
Received a card from Ted yesterday, from Florida. I was certainly happy and surprised to get it.
Well, I went to Mr. Frye about this ALPA thing and he spoke to the V.P. Mr. Collings. I also
contacted Mr. George Rice, our Chief Pilot. I don’t know exactly what the outcome was, but at
any rate I was told I would start my line checks upon my return from this flight. He told me it
would be a very rough go, but they were behind me. I am certain Mr. Frye had a lot to do with it.
July 1, 1943
Dear Dad and Mom-
I am line checking now. I expect to make three trips, (30 hrs) and then have 90 days to study in,
then go back and make four more round trips (40 hrs). I have it second hand that the biggest
reason for my being refused by the ALPA, is that Mr. Frye has started things in the Company
towards placing me in some sort of a job as soon, or soon after I have checked out and I am a
Captain. I don’t believe this is all just idle rumor, as Mr. Collings (our vice-pres.) and the Chief
Pilots Office are trying to help straighten this ALPA thing out, and also, the Captain who is
giving me my line checks, made this remark yesterday. “The Chief Pilot’s Office is bending
over backwards to see that you get checked out for some reason.”
September 21, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad-
Well things are going along very smoothly now. I hope they continue to do so. Day before
yesterday, Sunday, the dispatch office called up and told me to come down right away and test
fly the Lockheed. Mr. Frye had requested that I do it for him. Mr. Roby, as chief pilot, had test
flown it and missed a lot of things, so he told them to get me after that. I contacted the powers
that be in the ALPA and received their OK before I went to the field though. One of the head
men of the ALPA, that gave me a lot of trouble has gone to the ICD, so I won’t have him to
fight any longer. I have hopes of getting that situation all straightened up soon.
November 3, 1943
Dear Dad & Mom-
I am still trying to get the ALPA business straightened out. I saw the international president in
Chicago, October 28th, and I am now waiting to hear from him. I am trying to get that
straightened out before I do any more line checks, the check pilots just won’t pass me unless I
do, and unless that is straightened out or I quit, TWA will release me. Mr. Frye has, I find,
ordered the Chief Pilots Office to see to it that I am checked out to Captain. He did this with
best intentions, but it has only aggravated the situation. If I leave TWA I am going to try to get
a job as test pilot with North American here.
November 6, 1943
Dear Mom and Dad-
I am still up in the air as to the outcome of my mix up with the Airline Pilots Association. As I
told you I went to see the President of the ALPA International while I was in Chicago last
week. He expected to be in Kansas City and said he would see if he couldn’t straighten the mess
out this week, but I haven’t heard from him yet, so don’t know what is going to happen. I have
at least succeeded in getting any further line checks postponed until I get the ALPA situation
settled. I am going to New York on a flight with the Chairman of the KC chapter of the ALPA.
I hope to be able to possibly get some of this straightened out.
December 6, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad-
Just a note. Received Dad’s letter and we were certainly glad to get it. I am more than busy at
the present time with a possible change coming up. The Army has discovered that TWA has too
many pilots, and my draft classification has been changed from 3A3 to 3A and will be changed
to 2B very shortly. There has been no change in ALPA yet and I am just here, no more live
checks for a while. Will write and keep you as up to date as I am myself. I may have the
opportunity to end the Air Corps as a multi-engine instructor but know very little about it as
yet (military leave from TWA). All are OK here, Love Bob
December 8, 1943
Dear Dad and Mom-
I am going to attempt to put into words what I am now doing. My progress with the ALPA has
been exactly zero in the last eight months. I completed the 90 day set back I had in line checks
and made one more line check flight. Upon the completion of that I could see that it was useless
to attempt anymore until I had the ALPA thing all straightened out. I am told that a
complicating factor has been the fact that Mr. Frye issued orders to the Chief Pilot to see to it
that I was checked out to Captain. Now he was trying to prevent an unfair situation, but it had a
reverse action. To put it in the words of one of the Captains who is on my side in this thing “It
made me the fair-haired boy in the Company.” Added to all of this there is now a lot of
agitation over the over supply of pilots that TWA has.
This is getting so bad that the article “Washington Merry Go Round” carried an article on it.
The day after that came out, I walked into the office and a Army Air Corps officer was going
over our seniority list and as I came in he was asking the clerk - “Just how many pilots are
necessary to handle present flights?” Now along with that my draft classification has been
changed from 3A3 to 3A and a note also tells me that I will again be reclassified in the near
future. If the Army were to ask TWA to release some of their pilot to the Army, to fly Army
Cargo, I would be one of the first if not the first. Two reasons, 1st it would relieve the Chief
Pilot of the ticklish situation I am in and he is in. 2nd, as I am the most senior co-pilot and (as
the check pilots even tell me) I can really do an excellent job of flying the airplane.
January 22, 1944
Dear Dad and Mom-
Last night Captain Voights, ALPA Chairman, and head man of the group of four who have
prevented me from becoming an ALPA regular member and who have told me that I will not be
checked out to Captain called. I had sent him word that I wished a written statement giving
their reasons for refusing me regular membership. He called to inform me that they would not
give me such a statement. He explained that their reasons were too personal and that not to
feel too bad. He went on to say that this is a local situation and that it is so set up that it only
affects me as a pilot with TWA and that it will in no way prevent me from working for any
other airline. He said not to worry about a job, that the ALPA group and the Chief Pilot, Mr.
Rice, would see to it that I got another job. That they would contact various organizations
regarding the matter for me. My reason for asking for such a letter was that I knew they would
either do as they have or else have such ridiculous reasons that it would prove it to be a farce.
My present plans are to contact Mr. Roby and Mr. Rice of the Chief Pilots Office, and tell them
that I am going to resign and why, then talk with Mr. Frye and tell him why I am leaving and
what I am looking for in a job. Then if nothing turns up, I am going to go to Washington D.C.
and talk with the Army there.
All the following flights were in Frye’s personal plane:
Lockheed 12A, FAA Registration Number: NC18137
Notation on passengers:
Jack Frye’s passengers on his private Lockheeds were not always notated, however, they often
included Helen Frye, who a majority of the time traveled with her husband. As well, often Jack
would offer rides to anyone who was going his way, whether it be corporate associates, TWA
flight personnel, or United States enlisted service men, as found on standby at Transcontinental
& Western Air terminals across the United States. Airport Code Key can be found at the
bottom of this page.
October 2, 1942 (approximate time frame)
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers unknown
MCI (KC-Kansas City) to DCA (WA-Washington D.C.) flight time 4 hours 25 minutes
DCA to MCI
October 21, 1942
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers unknown
MCI to DCA
October 30, 1942
DCA to STL (St Louis) to MCI
November 19, 1942
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye
MCI to AMA- AO (Amarillo)- or ABQ- AQ (Albuquerque) to (WO) INW
November 19, 1942
INW (Winslow) (Frye Sunshine Ranch) to Verde Valley Airport (Frye Deer Lick
Ranch) Landed at Semi-Private Frye Airstrip (VVA)
November 19, 1942
Verde Valley Airport (VVA) to INW
November 24, 1942
Crew: Robinson (passengers none)
INW to PHX (Phoenix Sky Harbor)
Crew; Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye
PHX to ELP (El Paso-- Standard Airfield)
(built by Jack Frye, when he was President of Standard Air Lines/Aero
Corporation, a predecessor of TWA)
November 25, 1942
ELP to MCI
December 1, 1942
MCI to OKC (Oklahoma City)
OKC to CRP (Corpus Christi)
Passengers: Congressmen; John J. Hardin, Dan Tankersley, Jack Nichols
Destination: King Ranch for hunting trip
December 7, 1942 (same passengers)
Return flight: CRP to OKC to MCI
December 28, 1942 (possibly was December 29, 1942)
(Ship iced over, pulled into TWA hangar, sprayed with hot water and dried)
Engines started at 11:40 a.m.- departure delayed to 12:45 p.m. (ceiling 1500 feet)
Crew: Frye/Robinson, Passengers-- Jack Frye’s family, father and stepmother (Dr.
Wiilliam W. Frye and wife Laura.)
MCI to Twitty, Texas (arrival 2:59 p.m., time on the ground: 12 minutes)
Twitty to MCI, (departure- 3:11 p.m.) (arrival KC at 5:28 p.m.)
(Twitty was near the Wheeler, TX., near the Frye Ranch in the Texas panhandle)
December 30, 1942
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye
MCI to CRW (Charleston, West Virginia) possibly to drop Helen or leave
Christmas packages for her family
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers- Helen Frye?
CRW to DCA
DCA to MCI
January 8 ? to 13, 1943
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye and others
MCI to SFN (Santa Fe) to ABQ to INW to Cottonwood Frye Airstrip to BLD
(Boulder City TWA Terminal and Las Vegas) to FAT (Fresno) to SFO (San
Francisco) to OAK (Oakland) to Davis, CA. to SFO to BLD to INW to TUC
(Tucson) to ELP to MCI.
Arrival MCI (January 13, 1943, 6:19 p.m.)
January 15, 1943
Crew: Frye/Unknown First Officer
MCI to DCA
(at least 10-14 day layover)
March 3, 1943
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers unknown, likely Helen Frye
MCI to DCA
April 3, 1943
Departure time- 3:47 p.m.
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye
DCA to BNA
April 4, 1943
Departure time- Sunday Afternoon
Crew: Frye/Robinson passengers Helen Frye
BNA to STL
April 5, 1943
Arrival KC 2:00 p.m.
STL to MCI
Crew: Frye/Robinson, passengers Helen Frye
Solo Flight- November 5, 1942
One flight I feel transpired (not listed above) was an emergency flight by Jack and Helen to
Dallas, Texas on November 5, 1942. Jack’s beloved brother Don died suddenly in Dallas and
Jack left as soon as he was contacted by the police. Jack would not have wanted anybody on
board for this flight (even a pilot) as it was one of the darkest times of his life.
Recap- Jack Frye committed all available pilots and TWA equipment to the U.S.A.A.F. to help
with the war in the early 1940's. This left a shortage of pilots within TWA for Frye's private
12A. Unfortunately, jealousy and resentment from other TWA pilots who resented a “rookie”
filling this coveted position caused so much heartache for this young man (Robby) that he
eventually left TWA for more harmonious employment elsewhere. However, before he left, he
experienced a deep bond of friendship and camaraderie with Frye, as well as, training with
Transcontinental & Western Air- the world’s finest and most experienced (soon to be world)
airline! It is a travesty that Robby did not receive more favorable treatment with TWA. It
certainly goes without saying he was a stellar pilot and Jack Frye took him under his wing
because he showed great promise. Certainly, his resigning was a critical loss for TWA and
embarrassing, as well. Jack Frye can be applauded for trying (despite how very busy he was) to
rectify the situation. I was not aware there were union problems at TWA before the famous
strike of '46 which nearly put the airline out of business, but problems there were! Power plays
and a lack of team playing can very well destroy any good company. Incidentally, Robby's
daughter had the following to say about what started the 'blackballing' of Robby, as seen below:
"My father said that the problem he had with the pilot's union was that Jack let him fly the
Lockheed almost right away and on one flight Jack told a TWA Captain that he was going to
co-pilot for my dad who was a co-pilot - that is where the trouble started." Dorothy Nylen
I have no doubt Jack and Helen Frye would be pleased at this effort to honor TWA pilot Russell
Robinson, a man they not only considered a close friend, but as well, a competent executive
pilot who performed admirably for Frye and TWA. An honor certainly long overdue!
Jack & Helen with guest Howard Hughes and pilot Robby-
'Slug-out' @ the Frye Ranch
Like the Texas-bred men they truly were Hughes and Frye play
out a brawl akin to a Western Movie at the Frye Ranch-
at the time- truly the 'Old West'!
The following story told by Robby to his family is hard to date; however, according to Robby’s
letters he made two trips out to the Frye Ranch at Sedona. The date of these two trips were,
one on 11/19/1942, and another the first couple weeks of January 1944. Robby may have made
other trips that were not mentioned in his letters. The key to the following story is “fishing”
which might indicate a seasonable time of the year. However; in Sedona, the weather is so nice
that this trip could have taken place at practically any time of the year. For now, we will go with
the trip of November 1942.
On this particular Arizona visit Jack and Helen flew out to their Sedona ranch to meet Howard
Hughes. Robby was on board as co-pilot. As was typical for Jack and Helen Frye the crews of
their private planes were always welcome at the ranch. However; typically, Jack lodged his
pilots at Frank Eden’s Motor Court in downtown Cottonwood. This location was easy access to
Jack’s private landing field, near his ranch, where he always parked his Lockheeds. It was
typical for their private TWA hostess, Harriet Appelwick, to stay at the ranch; however, she
flew primarily on Jack’s later Lockheed Lodestar from (1945 to 1947).
After Jack and Helen arrived in Sedona they met Howard at the ranch. Hughes stayed at the
Frye Ranch several times, generally, under an assumed name so the press wouldn’t track
Hughes’ whereabouts. Jack and Robby drove a Jeep about a mile over to the adjoining Frye-
Deer Lick Ranch where the Fryes had a guest house. There they met Howard Hughes and
drove him back over to the Willow House where Helen and Jack always resided when at the
ranch in the early days. It is assumed they all had a few drinks, at which point, Jack said, “let’s
go down to the creek and do some fishing”. Helen elected to stay behind.
Jack and Howard proceeded to walk down to an area of Oak Creek where Jack liked to fish,
while Robby followed closely behind. On the way, Robby was a little shocked when he observed
Howard turn to Jack and say, “how ‘bout you let me sleep with Helen tonight?” Jack didn’t say
a word, but instead whirled around and slugged Howard so hard he fell off the trail into the
creek. Howard, stunned, was thrashing around in the water when Jack turned to Robby and
said, “take this guy (he may have said S.O.B.) in the jeep and get him off my property!” Robby
did as he was told and drove Howard out to the Frye Ranch airfield where he dropped Hughes
off at his plane. There is confusion whether he was dropped in Sedona, or at the Frye air strip.
Of course, we all know Jack and Howard obviously got past this slight on Howard’s part as they
continued to work together and socialize. As a matter of fact, Howard was the last man to meet
with Jack before he died in 1959. But, why would Howard say such a thing? Perhaps this- Helen
was a very beautiful and sensual woman, and it is a well known fact that Howard tried to “bed”
every attractive dame he met. I suppose that on this visit to the ranch (there were several) he
decided that Helen looked just a little too ravishing! Helen, also, was a close friend of Howard’s
and they always had some sort of a bond but it is was never of an intimate nature. I think
Helen just felt sorry for the millionaire social misfit. Seems many of Howard's friends did.
In my mind, Howard always lacked the ability to interact normally in society. I think he felt,
maybe because of his millions and the way people catered to him, that he could ask anyone for
anything. Jack wasn't that way and I think Howard respected Jack like a brother for refusing
to take his crap. Hughes was lucky to have friends like Jack and Helen Frye, it was not the
other way around! Hughes had very few “true” friends. Howard didn’t live by the ‘normal’ rules
of society- his extreme wealth kept him from being conditioned by normal interactions with his
peers, rather, it isolated him. There are many people out there who brag about having "known"
Howard Hughes but many of these people did not truly know him nor did Hughes feel they were
"family" but rather employees. The story above opens a window into the relationship between
Howard and a man he considered an equal, not an underling. Jack and Helen Frye never wrote
about all the experiences they shared with Howard, as friends, they had too much integrity.
Most those moments are now gone forever.
This may be the first and only time a friend slugged Howard Hughes so hard that he fell down
an embankment and into a creek for being disrespectful- all over the ravishingly beautiful
Helen Frye! Jack was always a man of honor with integrity. He respected a lady.
(The story as it appears above is the general version as told by Robby through the years to his
immediate family. It has been transcribed into a printed "story format" by myself, with
historical facts interjected as they would been connected with to the event. I think it is likely a
myth that all Howard ever drank was "pints of bottled milk". Also, quite interestingly, the last
person Jack supposedly met with the night he was later killed by a drunk driver in Tucson, AZ.
(February 3, 1959), was Howard R. Hughes out at the Ratheon Falcon Missile Facility.
According to Robby’s daughter Dorothy- “My Dad was not personally fond of Hughes after that
incident. Dad felt that Howard's motivation seemed to be- "that whatever belonged to Jack was
Howard's to share- and- he had been drinking." My dad really liked Helen. He would tell the
story whenever someone made the news for "saving" Howard Hughes.” Dorothy Nylen
A Letter of Reference-
from Jack Frye
On February 11, 1944, Jack Frye wrote a letter of
reference for Robby. It would have been exceedingly rare
to receive such a letter from any "president" of a company
as big as Transcontinental & Western Air. The letter
reveals many details, as in the type of plane Jack flew
personally, and the fact that Robby flew the plane alone
several times on Jack's behalf.
February 11, 1944
To Whom It May Concern:
Mr. Russell Robinson, formerly employed by Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., has applied
for admission into the Army Air Corps, and I should like to offer the following information
concerning his qualifications and ability.
I fly a Lockheed 12 airplane in my work as President of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc.,
and for a period of approximately one year Mr. Robinson flew with me as co-pilot. During this
time I had the opportunity to observe him closely and found him to be a very conscientious,
efficient and hard working young man. He is careful, conservative and thorough. On several
occasions he flew the Lockheed 12 alone, landed on fields off our regular line, and had no
trouble in handling the plane.
In addition to the experience which he had with me in the Lockheed, Mr. Robinson has had
considerable flying time as first officer on our scheduled flights, flying DC- 3 equipment.
It is my opinion that Mr. Robinson’s flying experience would be of value in the military service
and I hope that his application for admission to the Army Air Corps will be favorability
Very Truly Yours,
Jack Frye, President
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc.
Best Wishes of
'Luck and Success' from
Mrs. Jack (Helen) Frye
Helen Frye was quite fond of Robby as indicated by her
letter. The photo Helen mentioned that she and Jack
sent to Robby can be seen at the top of this page.
July 3, 1944
It was nice to get your letter and to learn that you are going to be commissioned as an ensign
soon. I was sorry for what happened and that you did not remain with the company, but I am
sure you will be happier where you are more appreciated. I guess you know that Mr. Frye and I
were always well pleased with your work.
The Constellation Flight was quite a drain on me and I, like you, would have liked nothing
better than to have been along. I am glad that it’s over with; it’s been on my mind for five
years. Those maiden flights always cause some anxiety.
You must have forgotten to put the snapshots of your children in your letter. I know they must
be darling youngsters. They will be a lot of company for your wife when you are away.
Mr. Frye is looking for a snapshot of us and if he has no snapshot you will know we are just out
of pictures. I have been trying -- or rather, hoping that we would have time to make up some
more from the many negatives we have on hand.
He found one!
Thanks for your nice letter. Drop us a card once in the while-
With our very best wishes, and hoping you all the luck and success in the world-
Christmas Card to Robby from Jack and Helen Frye. The photo on this card (used for several
years) also graced a TWA Calendar. Jack Frye himself was responsible for the photo.
Life after Transcontinental & Western Air
Jack Frye never forgot a friend- you can take that to the bank! Be assured that he likely
arranged the new position for Robby as an executive pilot for the Navy in Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to Dorothy Nylen- "After TWA, my dad ended up in the Navy at Corpus Christi,
Texas. He was trained to go to the South Pacific and fully expected to go. My dad later said that
he had been called into the Admiral's office and asked about his flying for TWA and Jack Frye.
Then the Admiral asked him if he wanted to fly for him - my dad said he was slated to go to the
South Pacific, and the Admiral was supposed to have said - 'You have a family don't you? What
do you think they would want you to do?' At that time my father had 2 children."
August 5, 1944
Dear Mom and Dad,
Monday we start all day ground school 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, which lasts for two weeks, then we
have about two or three weeks of instrument flying and it is supposed to be over. The class
ahead of us all got their orders yesterday, Hawaii. Lord only knows where we will go. I don’t
know if I told you or not, but here goes. I met a Col. Stirling, a recently - last 6 months -
retired Army Calvary Col. He is related to the Klebergs of the King Ranch. He has the use of a
40 ft. sailboat belonging to Congressman Kleberg. (one of Mr. Frye’s party the time I came
down here with them) I happened to be present when he needed some help with the boat one
day, so when I got it repaired we all, (Lois, Beth, Judy and I) went for a 2 hour sail in Corpus
Christi Bay. He has asked us to go several more times, but we have been unable to do so again
yet. It is the largest sailing yacht in C.C.
September 11, 1944
Dear Folks, (wife Lois writing)
Bob has done so well with the letter writing that I’ve gotten almost lazy about it. However, he
has been real busy lately, and I don’t know whether he’s written recently or not so maybe I’d
better get back into practice. This is Bob’s last week and it is a tough one for him -
examinations - flight tests etc. Perhaps Bob has told you, but the personnel department of the
air transport service here has put in a request to Washington to have Bob kept here as a pilot
for them. His work would be similar to that of flying with Jack Frye - that is to transport the
high officials of this base around. He would be based here a year. We think it would be swell
and surely hope he gets it. His orders should come any time now. We have our fingers crossed.
September 15, 1944
Dear Mom and Dad-
A little relief at last. Tomorrow will complete our normal period of training and we will have a
let up for a while. All of our group, except me, is going to the Pacific area, either based in
South Pacific or West Coast flying out there. My assignment is to the VM Unit here at Corpus
Christi. I will be flying DC-3, Lockheed, Beechcraft, Grumman amphibian, and Howards. VM
means a unit of Transport Service of the Navy that transports Naval Officer personnel. In other
words I will be doing just what I was for Mr. Frye, only not such long periods of sitting.
Please note: It is very likely Jack Frye had something to do with Robby's placement in the
military after serving as a private pilot on the Lockheed 12A. Jack had phenomenal influence
in Washington D.C. and he was also friends with Roosevelt, and an intimate friend of President
Harry S. Truman. The Fryes were personal friends with the Klebergs, as indicated in a Sedona
Red Rock News interview with Helen Frye. Of course, Robby knew the Klebergs too, so all
these connections certainly helped him secure a V.I.P. role in the U.S. Navy.
Tragically, Robby has been afflicted with Alzheimer's, so the only historical notations from him
are now found in letters and stories he has told his family through the years.
"My father had- possibly still has sometimes- very fond memories of Jack and Helen. My dad
will be 92 in March, he was born in 1917, and would have been 25 in 1942. The photo I sent
included - yes, his wife, my mother, (they were married over 65 years). My father was also a
photographer and may have taken that picture with himself in it. In addition to his flying
ability, Jack probably liked my dad for his energy and the fact that my dad also grew up on
a cattle ranch, (his father managed the Jack's ranches  in the Salinas Valley, Monterey
area). My dad was interested in aircraft design." Dorothy Nylen
Helen & Jack Frye
@ Sedona '42
Helen and Jack Frye at the Frye Deer-Lick Ranch, now
(Cross Creek Ranch Estates) Sedona Arizona, 1942. The
Fryes were departing for the private Frye airstrip at
Cornville Road and 89A near Sedona. From there they
boarded the TWA Lockheed Electra 12A, NC18137,
outbound to TWA corporate offices in Kansas City, MO.
Photographer Roy Kurtz, (the Fryes first Sedona ranch
foreman). TWA co-pilot that day was likely Frye private
pilot, Robby Robinson.
Closure after 60 Years!
"My father's birthday was this last Sunday. I wasn't able to be there, but my sister Judy copied
the first page - the one with my dad in his uniform and took it to him and read it to him. She
said he hardy speaks now, but he kept looking at the pictures and smiled and smiled. It clearly
made him very happy. She asked him which plane he flew and he pointed to the 12a. It really
made a connection with him. His grandson's (he has 8) - for whom the internet is their main
tool for communication are reading and looking at every inch of your website and it's making
them very happy and proud as well. It's just a wonderful gift to our whole family! Thank you so
much!" Dorothy Nylen
Certainly one of the most touching letters I have ever read appears above, reading it brought
tears to my eyes. It meant so much to me that my work could bring a little recognition to a
person who no longer has memories- has no history. I have come into contact with many
former associates of TWA and the Fryes who have become afflicted with Dementia or
Alzheimers essentially robbing them of their glorious memories and lives. All that remains of
their identity is the people who knew them and the memorabilia and letters which are now their
only identity. Not only is this dreaded condition a heartbreak for their families but any life-long
friends, as well. Much rich and valuable history is lost this way. Thank goodness, in Robby's
case, his invaluable letters in regard to his TWA years reconstruct an accurate and detailed
historical record of his (lost forever) memories of his TWA and Frye experiences!
For those former airline employees like myself, I have included the Airport Codes pertinent to
the above story. I had to memorize 100's of these when I was in airline school. Even though I
never thought I could remember them all I did receive a 100 on my airline test and was voted
'MVP' Most Valuable Person in my class. What an honor!
MCI (Kansas City, original downtown TWA terminal) also KC
DCA (Washington National)
ABQ (Albuquerque, N.M.) also AQ
INW (Current airport code for Winslow, AZ.) also WO
ELP (El Paso, TX)
CRP (Corpus Christi)
BLD (Boulder City, N.V.)
CRW (Charleston, W.V.)
CMH (Columbus, Ohio) also CO
OKC (Oklahoma City) Will Rodgers Airport
SFN (Santa Fe, N.M.)
FAT (Fresno, California)
SFO (San Francisco)
PHX (Phoenix Sky Harbor)
TUC (Tucson, AZ.)
BNA (Nashville, TN)
STL (St. Louis, MO.)
VVA (Verde Valley Airport- semi-private air field of Jack Frye)
(Airport Codes for Twitty Texas and Davis California are not known.)
It is my understanding that Boulder-Vegas air space was severely restricted during World War
II. Each time Jack would fly in and out of this area it was quite difficult, as a certain flight path
had to be adhered to and it necessitated negotiating a less than direct flight pattern. Boulder
was the TWA terminal at the time. (This per Frye private pilot TWA Captain Walt Gunn who
also served as a Frye co-pilot occasionally in the early 1940's and flew the 12A NC1837 in and
out of Boulder with Frye and V.I.P. passengers. See page 1940.)
Thanks to Dorothy Nylen for her invaluable contribution-
Sharing historical documentation of Frye's L12 NC18137
& her father's association with TWA and Jack and Helen Frye!
To the left, Russell (Robby) Robinson with his
wife Lois, in Kansas City, MO. (TWA Offices)
Married over 65 years, they were truly "life
long sweethearts". Below is the DC-3-209
NC17322, TWA Fleet #372, thought to have
been co-piloted by Robby Robinson at one
time. This airliner had a short life. It crashed
on December 1, 1944 on a flight from SFO to
BUR (San Francisco to Burbank, CA.).
Fatalities (8). Below is a portrait image of
Jack Frye as sent to Robby as a memento of
his service with Frye. Per Dorothy Nylen, it is
signed but hard to decipher. It reads-
"To Bob- My Best Pilot Ever! Jack Frye."
The Fryes- Camelback Inn
The Frye L12 @ Washington D.C.
Sedona Adventure 1942
Frye Deer-Lick Ranch
Frye Smoke Trail Ranch
Douglas Commercial 3