Paul E. Richter

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Paul E. Richter (1896–1949) was an aviation pioneer and co-founder of Standard Airlines (which eventually became Trans World Airlines).

Aviation career[edit]

During the "Golden Age" of flying, Paul E. Richter played a decisive role in commercial aviation and military air transport. Richter began as a stunt pilot with Hollywood's famous Thirteen Black Cats[clarification needed] in 1925.

He was a co-founder and executive vice president of TWA, 1926 to 1947, NATS Chief of Staff, Operations during World War II and Chairman of the Board, President of TACA Airlines 1947 to 1949.

In 1926, Paul Richter, Jack Frye and Walter Hamilton, founded Aero Corporation of California, one of the first nationally certified flight schools. Aero Corp. was an accredited maintenance and repair facility. They operated a cross-country charter services and were the first to do aerial surveying, aerial sightseeing and teach crop dusting.

Richter, Frye and Hamilton founded Standard Airlines in 1927 as a subsidiary of Aero Corp. and started one of the first scheduled all passenger service between Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson and El Paso, Texas.

Standard Airlines, later absorbed by American Airlines, remained in business for about 30 months. Frye, as well as being the founder of the company, was also an active pilot of the line. Because of the Great Depression, Frye and his associates sold the airline to Western Air Express in March 1930. Concomitant with the sale, Frye joined Western Air Express on the Board of Directors and as Chief of Operations. Later in 1930, Western Air Express merged with Transcontinental Air Transport in 1930 to form T&WA (TWA). Frye became president of T&WA in 1934 and Richter became Vice President. TWA was known as "The Airline Run by Flyers."

Standard Airlines was bought out by Western Air Express in 1930 which merged with Transcontinental Air Transport to become Transcontinental & Western Air in 1930. Paul Richter was also a founding director of Hawaiian Airways in 1929.

Paul E. Richter received his pilot's license #309 in 1924, Air Transport license #501 in 1927 and Aircraft and Engine Mechanic license #702 in 1927.

TWA, Transcontinental & Western Air was known as "the Airline Run by Flyers". Richter's progression through the 1930s and 1940s was as TWA Western Regional Operations Manager, 1931–34, Vice President of Operations and Director, 1934–38, Executive Vice President and Director, 1938-43. Richter and Jack Frye regained control of TWA stock in 1939. In 1942, Richter, on temporary leave from TWA, became Chief of Staff for Operations, US Naval Air Transport. He returned to TWA as Executive Vice President from 1945–47 and resigned from TWA in 1947 (three months after Jack Frye left) in dispute with then controlling stockholder, Howard Hughes.

In 1948, with Ralph Damon and C.R. Smith, Captain Paul E. Richter was considered a founder of MATS (Military Air Transport Service).

From 1947 to 1949, Richter served as Chairman and President of T.A.C.A. Airways of Central and South America.


He died on May 15, 1949 shortly after he took a position with the Coca Cola Co. on the west coast.

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