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Author Topic: The "Black Knight "is gone
Roger Moore
Post Captain
Member # 2204

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Recieved word of the passing of the "Black Knight" Ed Frankum. Evidently he was in an auto accident in Mass. and survived the auto accident only to have a fatal stroke while in the hospital. He was 91 years old. Roger Moore
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Prop Wash
Member # 381

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Captain Ed Frankum was to TWA pilots what General Patton was to our soldiers during WW 11. He was like John Wayne was to the cowboys in the movies.

He was tough but fair, and made the rest of us look good.

He was a friend.

May his soul rest in everlasting peace.

Randy Kramer

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Post Captain
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I recall carrying Ed as an ACM in the cockpit from MKC to LGA in the 80's. My crew and I did all we could to impress him with our superior aeronautical skills during the ILS runway 4 with a circle to runwy 31. It was a beautiful no wind summer night and the lights were twinkling.
While bending the B-727-200 in a tight left turn, with Shea Stadium just to the right, I made a remark on just how beautiful the night flight was. Ed replied, "You should be paying TWA for the privilege for flying tonight." He was right. We ended the flight with a smooth touchdown in the touchdown zone and taxied to the gate arriving 5 minutes early. I believe I never saw Ed again.

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jeff shrewsbury
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James Edward Frankum

James Edward Frankum, 87, former TWA Chief Pilot and Executive Vice President of Flight Operations, died of natural causes on March 2, 2008 at St. Francis Hospital in Manhasset, New York.
Frankum, a 50-year resident of Manhasset, was born in Knox County, Indiana on Feb. 25, 1921. The son of a trucker, Ed Frankum was an eight-letter athlete, and captain of his football, basketball, baseball and track teams his senior year at Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana. It was at this time that he met Madalene Tharp, who would become his lifelong partner and wife.
Frankum's big break came at the age of 18 when he won a local academic competition offering a grand prize of free flying lessons. This would set a course for an illustrious career in the burgeoning airline industry.
Prior to joining TWA in 1942 as a co-pilot, Frankum served as a flight instructor in Mansfield, Ohio, training Air Force pilot instructors. During the war years, TWA was commissioned by the U.S. Air Transport Command, where Frankum served as a pilot.
After the war, at the age of 25, he was domiciled in Cairo, Egypt, where he piloted DC-4's throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Upon returning to the U.S. in 1950, Captain Frankum was at the center of numerous company milestones, including commanding the Constellation, TWA's first transcontinental aircraft, recently featured in the movie, The Aviator.
In 1959 he commanded TWA's first Boeing 707 to cross the Pacific. This signaled the inauguration of the company's round-the-world service. He achieved this as the youngest TWA pilot to command its first commercial jetliner.
Frankum's reputation as a talented pilot and tenacious union negotiator caught the attention of corporate management to which he was soon lured. He rose quickly through the corporate ranks, ultimately becoming Executive Vice President of Flight Operations, where he managed over 7,000 employees: pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and ground personnel.
Frankum never lost his passion for flying, though, and despite his executive responsibilities, he always maintained his pilot status.
In early February 1970, he took delivery of TWA's first Boeing 747 and test flew the world's largest commercial aircraft around the world. It was received by over 100,000 onlookers on its visit to nine European cities. The historic event was a 10,000-mile proving flight. Its flawless operating performance earned TWA FAA certification for transatlantic service.
On Feb. 25, 1970, Captain Frankum celebrated his 49th birthday by commanding the first 747 commercial flight ever to operate in the United States. After this historic Los Angeles to New York flight, he was presented the Key to New York City by Mayor John Lindsay.
In the years that followed, TWA's first and only Executive/Chief Pilot commanded the 747's that transported Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II to and from the United States. He safely negotiated to the ground, an armed hijacker with a plane full of passengers, and commanded the company's inaugural Lockheed 1011 flight...just a few more of the achievements that highlighted his amazing career and life's experience.
After 42 years of service, Ed Frankum retired to enjoy his second passion, playing golf. He was a member of Plandome and Nassau Country Clubs, and for the last 20 years, Sands Point Golf Club. Winters were spent with his wife, Madalene, at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor Florida, with the warm months back home in Manhasset.
In addition to Madalene, his wife of 64 years, Ed Frankum is survived by three children: Stephanie Robich and her husband Dennis of Milford, OH; Barbara Boyle of Westlake Village, CA; JEF Frankum and his wife Mary of Ridgefield, CT; and seven grandchildren. Mark and Greg Robich, Scott, Jeffrey and Steven Boyle and Lindsay and Jim Frankum

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