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A Tribute to TWA..."The Airline Run by Flyers"
Early TWA History from original TWA documents.

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The 13 Black Cats ...
"If a Black Cat can't do it, it can't be done."
Paul Richter Jr. was one of the original "13 Black Cats"

Matlock, Richter, MacDougall, Nichols.
Left to right... Matlock, Richter, MacDougall, Nichols.

The 13 Black Cats were famous stunt and movie flyers. They appeared in Howard Hughes', "Hells Angels" and in other 1920s films. Richter contracted with MGM to use Aero Corp.'s planes in the movies.

The group was first organized in 1924 with 13 members, headed by Bon MacDougall. Their home base was the Burdett Airport located at Western Avenue and 102nd Street, Los Angeles California. Their uniform was a black sweater with the cat and number 13 patch on the front, and their names on the back. Each members name would add up to a total of 13 letters; if it didn't he was given a nickname that would. 
Paul Richter preparing the Curtiss aircraft for flight.
Paul Richter preparing the Curtiss aircraft for flight.

Read a page from the book "The Motion Picture Pilots" by H. Hugh Wynne Here
Read about the 'dead stick' landing contest Here

Originally the group was made up of pilots, motion-picture stuntmen and automobile racers. They advertised that they defied all superstition and the odds and their services were also available for air shows or meets and any other audience that would pay their fee. Until 1927, when it became a law, they used no parachutes.
Sitting left to right, Paul E. Richter, Herb McClelland, Spider Matlock. Kneeling, Fronty Nichols, Al Johnson. Standing, Sam Greenwald, Bon MacDougall, Art Goebel.
Sitting left to right, Paul E. Richter, Herb McClelland, Spider Matlock. Kneeling, Fronty Nichols, Al Johnson. Standing, Sam Greenwald, Bon MacDougall, Art Goebel.

Paul Richter with Bon McDougall.
Paul Richter with Bon McDougall.
13 Black Cats Business Card

Black Cats Price List
The 13 Black Cats
Left to right... Matlock, Richter, MacDougall, Nichols.

The 13 Black Cats in formation
The 13 Black Cats in formation.
Read the TWA Skyliner article, Feb. 3, 1986 "The Thirteen Black Cats" by Ed Betts Here

In early 1929 the 13 black cats  disbanded - there was too much competition. The price for a simple parachute jump had come down from $80 to a mere $10 by some free-lance daredevils who were willing to risk their lives for a fast buck. TWA Skyliner, Feb. 3, 1986

Los Angeles Examiner article Black Cats Bring Good Luck Los Angeles Examiner article Black Cats Bring Good Luck

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