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
F.A.A. Ownership Documentation of the TWA Lodestar
Lockheed Lodestar NC33604, c/n 2170. Manufacture date May 4 1942. Converted to
18-01/C-56D-LO for U.S.A.A.F., as registration number 42-57224. Likely used as an officer
transport it was sent to Bolling Field, Washington D.C., on June 11 1942. On June 25 1942 to
MAD, then back to Bolling on June 27 1942. To Geiger A.F.B. (Spokane, WA.) July 16 1942.
Memphis A.F.B. February 11, 1943. Gravely Point WA. June 11, 1943. By July 29 1943 the
Lodestar was in Washington D.C. (back at Bolling)? On December 27 1944 the Lodestar was
transferred to R.F.C. (Reconstruction Finance Corporation) and processed for civilian sale and
use. F.A.A. registration now, as NC-33604, transfer to D.F.C. (Defense Plant Corporation), sold
to Transcontinental & Western Air to be used as Flight Research Laboratory and executive
transport. Assigned TWA Fleet Number #241. The Lodestar was not used for scheduled TWA
The plane was eventually sold (April of 1954) to Daniel Peterkin, Jr., (longtime executive of
Morton Salt Corporation, (Dan's father was a prior president. Peterkin was also president and
an investor in Howard Aircraft Corp.,) founded by his friend Benny Howard. (See Page 1954).
The Lodestar was sold to American General Insurance Corporation, June of 1963.
Later transferred to Alex W. Head by February 1970. By January 1974 it was transferred to
C. Norris Byran. On January of 1977 it was owned by the Cardway Corporation and ended up
with Bush Aviation Incorporated. It was sold to Warren Walder by June of 1977 and then sold
to B. and H. Industries Incorporated on May 17, 1978.
The plane resided at Fort Lauderdale Florida from July 1976 to October 1977. In August 1982
the plane was canceled from the F.A.A. Civil Air Registration database and the trail grows cold.
Tragically, many old and neglected Lodestars were used by drug runners eventually ending up
ditched in the Everglades, Caribbean, Bermuda Triangle, or worse yet, South America.
Perfect example: A mystery Lockheed Lodestar 18 set down on a roadway and set on fire by
drug smugglers near Hastings Florida on July 19 1978 and abandoned. The registration number
was not verified. This Lodestar died a lonely anonymous death. Let's hope this plane is not our
famous V.I.P. executive airliner NC33604. This once proud transport with passengers from
Senators to Presidents seemingly has been lost forever and is assumed scrapped.
From the Lockheed expert Rene' J. Francillon
"Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913" we find references to the Lockheed Electra NC 18137 and the
Lockheed Lodestar NC-33604. Specifically, the author writes, "In spite of having won the
competition, the Electra Jr. had limited success as a feeder-airliner, with only six of the ninety
Wasp Jr. SB powered Model 12-As (including the prototype) being acquired by US airlines, while
c/n 1236 went to Associated Airlines Pty in Australia. One of the six US-registered
feeder-liners, which as NC 18137, (c/n 1229), had been delivered in August 1937, to Varney Air
Transport, was later used briefly by TWA as a high-altitude and weather research aircraft until
replaced by a Lockheed 18. Two other model 12A's were acquired by British Airways but as
detailed later, this airline purchase was a front for the activities of Sidney Cotton."
(Please note- Varney Air Transport became Continental Airlines in 1937.)
Mr. Francillon continues to detail background information of the TWA 1942 Lockheed
Lodestar. "C-60-LO: Thirty-six Model 18-56's were impressed and powered by 1,200 hp Wright
R-1820-87s, were assigned serials 41-29633/41-29647, 42-32166/42-32180 and
42-108787/42-108792. Lend-lease transfers to the RAF as Lodestar Mk. II's accounted for the
first sixteen machines (EW983/EW997 and FK246) but fourteen additional aircraft, for which
serials FK247/FK260 were reserved, were retained by the USAAF, as were the last six
C-60-LO's. One aircraft, (c/n 18-2170, 42-108971), went to TWA as NC33604 to serve as a
flight-research laboratory and executive transport." Please note: I have found another source
that shows the NC33604 was originally 42-108791. It is likely this particular source accidentally
reversed the numbers.
Photos of the Lockheed Lodestar NC33604 from 1962
Lodestar pilot Herb Garrett generously provided me with 8 by 10 photos of the famous
Lockheed Lodestar N33604 from 1962. This was one year before Dan Peterkin sold the plane to
Gus Wortham of American General Insurance. The images show the plane in remarkable
clarity and in its final state before Peterkin of Morton Salt sold it. I have seen references,
although difficult to verify, that Dan Peterkin was involved with Bill Lear and the development
of the LearStar L-18 conversions. Peterkin invested capitol as well as his Lodestar pilot
knowledge and obviously his own plane for upgrade modifications. The images below are some
the best vintage (former TWA) Lockheed Lodestar photos available on line in the world.
In these stunning and clear interior shots one can clearly imagine TWA president Jack Frye,
his wife Helen Vanderbilt Frye and their many V.I.P. guests navigating a flight path in the
1940's coast-to-coast (almost on a weekly basis). This is also the very same plane Harriet
Appelwick hosted for Frye and Howard Hughes. Not to mention Frye guest Baroness Garnett
Stackelberg who was a passenger from Washington to Los Angeles in 1946. The images (left)
"Instrument Panel." The image (right) "Looking forward toward Flight Attendant Station and
Cockpit beyond." Herb told me it was the pilots job to service and clean the cabin. For
additional information on the Jack Frye Lockheed Lodestar ownership please see Page 1945.
The Morton Salt-American General (former Frye TWA Lodestar) shows stunningly in these
photos. The photos display the N33604 in a modified state from its original TWA appearance.
Thought to be a Learstar (Learcraft) conversion the tell-tale alterations are clearly obvious in
these images. From the extended nose to the altered nose landing light this Lodestar is no
longer a factory expression. Power plants have been upgraded to Pratt and Whitney R-1830-94's
1350hp engines making it very fast. Notations on the photos are from American General
Insurance Chief Pilot Herb Garrett as shown in quotes here and below- "Location is NAYAK
Aviation, San Antonio, Texas." Photos by Joe V. Moldonado
Above (left) "Looking aft toward cloak closet on the left, toilet door on the right." Image
(right) "Facing aft- bar on left and coffee bar on the right." Note: if this plane was a joint
venture between Peterkin and William P. Lear to create a Learstar luxury executive transport,
the interior photos certainly are evidence of this. Thanks to Herb Garrett for these images!
Jack Frye Lodestar as seen in the 1940's.
Lockheed Lodestar N 33604 (NC 33604)
Private Executive Plane of Gus Wortham-
President of American General Insurance
1963 to 1970
1942 Lockheed 18 C-56 Lodestar
Lockheed Lodestar 18 to U.S.A.A.F. (1942)
U.S.A.A.F. to Jack Frye of TWA as NC33604 (1944)
Trans World Airlines to Howard Hughes (1947)
Howard Hughes to Daniel Peterkin (1954)
Daniel Peterkin to American General Insurance (1963)
Beloved Transport of American General
American General Insurance History
Information has been uncovered about the American General (former TWA) Lockheed
Lodestar NC33604. I was contacted by a gentleman who was at one time the chief company pilot
for Union Texas Petroleum. They maintained a Lodestar (N61U, later N6166), which was
hangared next to the former TWA Lodestar N33604. American General Insurance was the
owner of the N33604 by this time. This gentleman served as an occasional vacation relief pilot
on the former TWA Lodestar and referred me to his friends the two company pilots who
regularly flew N33604.
The chief pilot for American General Insurance was Mac McChesney. However, due to his
current ill health I have not been able to converse with him. The second company pilot was
Herb Garrett who has revealed invaluable information about the Lockheed N33604.
The Lodestar’s first flight with Garrett (American General) was February 19, 1963. Herb told
me he thought the Lodestar had previously been owned by the Morton Salt Company. He went
on to say that he had understood the Lodestar at one time had been the corporate plane of Mr.
Frye and that Howard Hughes had been associated with the plane too, actually piloting it. He
was told the plane had never been used for TWA passenger service.
Mac and Herb piloted the plane for the illustrious Gus S. Wortham of John L. Wortham and
Son, LP, (currently) which founded American General (AIG). The plane was based at Andrau
Air Park in Houston Texas. It was the policy of Mr. Wortham that if someone wanted to go
somewhere and the plane had an empty seat they were always welcome as passengers. So
subsequently, the Lodestar became a VIP transport not unlike it's TWA years which had the
same generous policy. Just a few of the remembered passengers were Herbert Walker Bush,
(president of Zapata Petroleum, later, President of the United States), Senator John Connally
(wounded when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated), Senator John Tower, Governor
Preston Smith, Dr. Denton A. Cooley, (the famous heart pioneer, who often traveled with his
bass fiddle), the DuPonts, and three of the original astronauts.
Mr. Wortham owned the famous Bar 9 Ranch in New Mexico and Texas and the Little Eva
Plantation in Louisiana. Quite coincidentally, Wortham also owned the rare Santa Gertrudis
cattle, like Jack Frye, who stocked them at his Frye- Nevajac Ranch in Florida, and Smoke
Trail Ranch in Sedona AZ. It would be very interesting to know if there was a connection
between Wortham and the elite organization, El Conquistadores del Cielo. Founded by Jack
Frye and Paul Richter in 1937 the secretive organization was intended as a membership of
airline executives; however, many prominent corporate leaders of the country were associated,
American General Insurance sold the plane in February of 1970. They had previously owned a
Beech 18, and later went on to own several more Lockheeds, a Westwind, and a De Haviland
The demise of the famous TWA Lockheed Lodestar? Herb says he heard many years ago that
at the end of the plane's life, long after American General Insurance had sold it, the Lodestar
ended up wrecked on a Florida beach. The circumstances, sadly, are what I had suspected, it had
likely been stolen and was being used by drug runners. They got hemmed in by weather and set
it down on a lonely strip of sand. There the plane was abandoned and never heard from again.
Likely it was cut up and scrapped. The End? Unfortunately, it appears so. However, the plane
may exist out there somewhere as a derelict at some forgotten air strip.
Just a memory now this famous executive plane only lives on in the minds of those who were
proudly associated with her. According to Herb Garrett, Chief Pilot for American General
Insurance, the company that acquired the Lodestar after Daniel Peterkin sold it in 1963, to
paraphrase, “the Lodestar was modified prior to AGI purchase and was quite fast. This was
attributed to the Pratt and Whitney, 1830-94 twin power plants (1350 hp), a Dallas-Aero Kit,
(modified wings to squared wing tips and fillets- modification of the wings to fuselage). This is
why the plane handled remarkably even to the disadvantage of one power plant operating. The
aircrafts nose was modified making it pointed and narrow with Bendix Aircraft Radar (rare for
the time period) installed in the center. This installation necessitated moving the landing light
to a lower position as seen in photos. (It must be noted that Howard Hughes developed early
aircraft radar. Is he responsible for this addition?) The plane's interior was outfitted for "1st
Class" executive service with a long couch that seated 4 up front and two adjoining lounge
seats. Behind this there were 4 more lounge chairs and the blue room (restroom) in the very
back with a small oval window. The plane did not have air-stairs but rather, instead, a porter's
step. There was a small room with door between the cabin and the cockpit thought to be a
navigator's station with table and seat. A hot plate in this area enabled food to be warmed up in
flight.” (When TWA's Jack Frye and Howard Hughes used the plane it was staffed with a TWA
Hostess Harriet Appelwick on all flights.)
Mr. Garrett has generously shared his photos of the Lockheed Lodestar N-33604, as seen below
from about 1962. The photos show the plane before Gus Wortham owned it either at the sale, or
before. The modifications that are displayed were likely executed by Daniel Peterkin, Jr. A few
technological alterations may have been initiated by Frye through the TWA Flight Research
It is documented that Mr. Peterkin worked with Bill Lear on the Lodestar conversion program.
Several of the modifications noted above were typical of Lear and it's obvious the plane was a
partial Lear conversion, although, perhaps unofficially so. N33604 as pictured below is similar to
its appearance in TWA years with Howard Hughes, Jack Frye, and Paul Richter as pilots, sans
the painted body.
The photos below are of the N33604. They were likely commissioned by Daniel Peterkin Jr.,
shortly before the sale of the Lodestar to Gus Wortham. The plane shows as a real luxury liner
certainly a well-suited executive plane for a long list of V.I.P. service. From Jack Frye, founder
and long-time president of TWA, Howard Hughes, Daniel Peterkin, president and founder of
Morton Salt, and Gus Wortham founder of American General Insurance. The plane has a
notable and proud lineage! Photographer: Joe V. Moldonado
American General Insurance Lodestar