Military Wiki
Paul Ernest Richter Jr.
Captain Paul E. Richter, US Navy WWII
Born (1896-01-20)January 20, 1896
Denver, CO
Died May 15, 1949(1949-05-15) (aged 53)
Berkeley, CA
Occupation Co-Founder of Standard Airlines
Vice President TWA
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch US Navy
Rank Captain
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Legion of Merit[1][2]
Wall of Honor, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum[1]
Spouse(s) Daisy Cooke Richter

Paul Ernest Richter Jr. (1896–1949) was an aviation pioneer, co-founder of Standard Airlines and Executive Vice President of Trans World Airlines, Operations Chief of Staff of the Naval Air Transport Service during World War II and Chairman of the Board, President of TACA Airlines from 1947 to 1949.

Early years

Richter was born on January 20, 1896 to cattle ranchers Paul and Margaret Richter in Denver, Colorado. While growing up, Richter worked on the family ranch in Wiggins, Colorado, as a "cub" reporter for the Denver Post, and at his father's advertising agency.[1] He attended Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts for one year.[1]

Airline career

Richter learned to fly at Burdett Field in Los Angeles,[3] under to tutelage of Burdett Fuller.[4] Richter received his pilot's license #309 in 1924, Air Transport license #501 in 1927 and Aircraft and Engine Mechanic license #702 in 1927. Richter became good friends with one of Fuller's flight instructors, Jack Frye, and another student pilot, Walter Hamilton. Richter and Frye had much in common, they both grew up on a cattle ranch and moved to California to pursue aviation careers.[4] In 1925, Richter and Frye earned positions with Hollywood's famous "Thirteen Black Cats", an aviation stunt team for the movie industry.[4][5]

In 1926, Richter, Frye and Hamilton, pooled their money together and founded Aero Corporation of California. Aero Corp bought Fuller's business and provided charter services, aerial surveying, sightseeing, flight instruction, and crop dusting.[4] Hamilton, who had been a mechanic for the Duesenberg Motors Company, ran their aircraft maintenance operation.[4] Richter competed as an award-winning air race pilot with the Aero Corp airplanes.[6]

Richter, Frye and Hamilton founded Standard Airlines in 1927 as a subsidiary of Aero Corp and started scheduled passenger service between Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Tucson. Within a year they added El Paso, Texas to the route.[4] In 1929, Richter and Frye set a commercial aircraft altitude record of 22,680 feet (6,910 m) in one of Standard's Fokker F-10 tri-motor aircraft.[7]

In March 1930, Western Air Express bought controlling interest in Aero Corp, but continued to operate Standard Airlines as a separate airline. Western Air Express made Richter, Frye, and Hamilton Vice Presidents of the Standard Division.[4] In July 1930, Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown forced the merger between Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) and Western Air Express, to create Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA). However, Standard Airlines would go to American Airlines as part of the deal due to its southern route into Texas. Richter, Frye, and Hamilton elected to stay with T&WA. Richter was made Vice President of the Western Division, Frye was made Vice President of Operations, and Hamilton made Maintenance Superintendent.[4] T&WA changed its name to TWA, and due to this trio was known as "The Airline Run by Flyers."[8]

In 1934 Richter was made Vice President of Operations and Director, and Frye was made President and Director. Richter became Executive Vice President in 1938. In 1937, Richter and Frye founded "Conquistadores del Cielo" (Conquerors of the Sky), an annual gathering of top airline executives at a dude ranch in Wyoming.[1][9][10]

After Frye resigned from TWA due to a dispute with owner Howard Hughes in 1947, Richter was offered the position of President but decided to resign as well.[4][11]

From 1947 to 1949, Richter served as Chairman and President of TACA Airlines of Central and South America.[12]

Military career

Richter enlisted as a Private in the army in 1918, but World War I ended while he was still in training.[1] After the war, he was accepted into Field Artillery Officer Training and graduated in 1919 as a Second Lieutenant. Richter remained in the Army Reserves until 1934.[1]

In 1942, Richter reported for duty with the United States Navy and was made Lieutenant Commander and Assistant Chief of Staff of Operations, Naval Air Transport Service. In 1944, Richter was promoted to Captain and made Chief of Staff of the Naval Air Transport Service.[1] Richter was released from active duty in 1945, and returned to work at TWA.[1] In 1946, Richter received the Legion of Merit for his work with the Naval Air Transport Service.[1]

Richter returned briefly to active duty in 1948 to help consolidate the Naval Air Transport Service with the Air Transport Command, creating the Military Air Transport Service.[13]

Death and honors

Richter died on May 15, 1949 at his home in Berkeley, California from a cerebral hemorrhage[14] shortly after he took a position with the Coca Cola Company.[6]

Richter is on the Wall of Honor at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The University of Central Missouri has the "Paul E. Richter TWA" scholarship for aviation students.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Paul Ernest Richter Jr.". Retrieved 3 April 2019. 
  2. "The Hall of Valor Project". Retrieved 4 April 2019. 
  3. "Burdett Fuller Collection". Retrieved 3 April 2019. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Robert, Serling (1983). Howard Hughes' Airline. St Martin's. ISBN 9781542575201. 
  5. "Thirteen Black Cats". Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Paul E. Richter Jr.". Retrieved 4 April 2019. 
  7. "1920's". Retrieved 4 April 2019. 
  8. ""The Airline Run by Flyers" advertisement". Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  9. Pesek, Joe. "Conquistadores del Cielo: The Secret Club of Top Airline Executives". Retrieved 6 April 2019. 
  10. "Conquistadores Del Cielo". Retrieved 6 April 2019. 
  11. "Richter Resigns TWA Position". Retrieved 6 April 2019. 
  12. "History of Grupo TACA". Retrieved 5 April 2019. 
  13. "Paul E. Richter, Jr.". Retrieved 6 April 2019. 
  14. "Berkeley Daily Gazette". Retrieved 4 April 2019. 
  15. "Paul E. Richter TWA Scholarship". Retrieved 6 April 2019. 

External links

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