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A Tribute to TWA..."The Airline Run by Flyers"
Early TWA History from original TWA documents.
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TWA Co-Founder
Walter “Ham” A. Hamilton 1902-1946

Paul E. Richter Jr., Jack Frye and Walter Hamilton
Transcontinental and Western Air Executive Offices Kansas City 1930

In a promo photo of the newly formed California Sheriffs Association, Walt is seen on the lower right. Paul Richter, top second from the left, next to Art Goebel.

Walt was one of the founders of the Aero Corporation of California and Standard Air Lines. He was a licensed pilot receiving his Transport License at the same time as partners, Jack Frye and Paul Richter but "Ham"s love was engines. He was an authority on both water-cooled and air-cooled motors. He patented his many developments and improvements that were adopted by companies for greater efficiency. In the 1920s he was credited with perfecting the Duesenberg engine to being the fastest in the world at the time. Also a wiz at tuning airplane engines, “Ham” made Paul Richter and Jack Frye look good as they won races and set altitude records. With Walt at the helm, Aero Corps' shop was considered the best in the west. By 1929, he employed 86 men. Walt served as Vice President of Mechanical Operations for both Aero Corporation of California and Standard Air Lines and continued in a comparable position with TWA. Walt was an amazing asset to Aero Corp., Standard Airlines and later TWA.

Said to be one of the best engine mechanics in Los Angeles, Walt is seen here totally in his element, wearing overalls covered with grease!

Los Angeles News Wire,
September 27, 1929

Motors of Air Line, Chief's Real Joy

Walter A. Hamilton Knows What Makes 'Em Click Just as parents often are the despair of their children, executives of large corporations sometimes are the despair of their employees.

Such is the case with Walter A. Hamilton, vice president of the Aero Corporation of California. His employees think the vice-president of a 2,500,000 corporation should sit in a mahogany-furnished office, and do nothing more strenuous than push buttons and dictate letters.

Walt, far right, with Richter, Tomlinson and Fyre in the 1920's
Mr. Hamilton thinks it is more fitting that he should spend his time pulling motors to pieces, delving into the intricate mechanical problems and getting himself covered from head to foot with grease. Pratt-Whitney Motors, the gigantic power plants that pull the Standard Air Lines' plane from this city to El Paso, Texas, are the energetic vice-president's special delight. However he will cheerfully tackle any sort of machinery if a Pratt-Whitney engine doesn't need servicing. That Mr. Hamilton knows his field is indicated by his recent selection as a member of the advisory board for the installation of the operating equipment for the new Hawaiian Airways system.

It was commonly said that "Walt Hamilton can make a washing machine fly!"

"Upon his shoulders rest the responsibility for the safe performance of his company's planes."
Paul Richter 1930.

AUTHORITY ON AIRLINER ENGINES SEES LOS ANGELES AS FUTURE PLANE CENTER "At last, Eastern airplane manufacturers are looking to the West for new production air-cooled motors to replace the OX5 that has served until recently." This is the statement recently made by Walter A. Hamilton, vice-president and chief engineer of the Aero Corporation of California. Mr. Hamilton is an authority on air-cooled motors and has helped materially in developing and marketing some of the most successful ones. He has patented many improvements for both water-cooled and air-cooled motors, and is known as the inventor of the DELCO dual ignition system for OX5 engines. "It is a recognized fact that Southern California is far ahead of the rest of the country in the developing of airplanes, but very little is realized of the vast strides being made in the developing of motors in the West," says Mr. Hamilton.

Ham was known as the inventor of the DELCO dual ignition system for OX5 engines. As vice-president and chief engineer of the Aero Corporation of California, Walter Hamilton not only knew his planes, he was an equally accomplished flyer.

With TWA and as an executive of Douglas Aircraft Co., Hamilton’s knowledge aided in the construction of the first Douglas transports, Boeing Stratoliner, and the Lockheed Constellation. Walt contributed his genius to the war effort. During WWII, Captain Walter A. Hamilton served in the Naval Air Transport Service, NATS. His expertise in engineering, engines and aircraft were invaluable to the military. Walt returned to TWA after WWII and rejoined “the Three Musketeers of Aviation” until his untimely death in 1946 at age 44. Walt Hamiltion was an aviation pioneer and a legend.

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