Truman Wadlow, Date Unknown
Colorful Brothers Who Had Distinguished Aviation Careers All Over the World
Truman, and his twin brother Newman Wadlow, were both pilots. To my knowledge, they are the only twin siblings to sign the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register.
Truman Wadlow landed at Tucson and signed the Register on Thursday August 15, 1929. He was solo in Black Hawk NC130K. Based at Kansas City, MO, he was westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.
Truman and his brother were raised in Wichita, KS. He learned to fly in a Swallow biplane at age 18. He then acquired his license in a Travel Air with a Wright J-4 engine. Along with his brother, he was a test pilot for the Travel Air Company, and also operated a sales outlet in St. Joseph, MO during 1928.
Whereas his brother competed in the 1929 Ford Reliability Tour, Truman participated in the 1930 event. He flew the Curtiss-Wright Travel Air NC452N (not a Register airplane). He placed 9th in the event behind Register pilots John Livingston (2nd), George Haldeman (5th) and Walter Beech (6th). He was just ahead of Les Bowman (10th) and Walter J. Carr (15th). One source claims Truman set the record for the higest average speed during the race. But the table on page 132 of Forden, Chapter 6, which covers the 1930 event from block to block, shows there were at least five other times better than his 132.6 MPH among the eight finishers above him.
The brothers operated the Wadlow Bros. Flying Service Co., Wichita, KS from 1930-33 (or 1932, depending upon which source you read). Below, an early business advertisement in the form of a card given to patrons as "proof" that they flew in an aircraft with one of the Wadlow brothers. This card is shared with us by site visitor Henry Avery. The front of the card is stamped with the Wadlow Brothers name. The second and third lines of the stamp are unreadable. At right is an image of the back of the card (I reduced it to fit). It has what looks to be a phone number, "Main 20998," written in pencil.
Wadlow Brothers Flight Card, Date Unknown (Source: Avery)
Wadlow Brothers Flight Card, Back, Date Unknown (Source: Avery)
Interestingly, this card signals an interesting transition. The Wichita Beacon of June 14, 1930 announced that the Wadlow brothers purchased Central Air College and all of its equipment. The name was then changed to “The Wadlow Brothers Flying Service.” The Wichita Eagle also reported, "Central Air college properties, including a large hangar on the East Central avenue airport and eight airplanes, have been purchased by Newman and Truman Wadlow, brothers, who will operate the business under the name of Wadlow Brothers Flying Service."
Could it be that the brothers simply bought a rubber stamp and used up the supply of cards they inherited from the previous owner of the College? The Great Depression had a tendency to spawn this kind of thrift. Although the card is undated, the likely date is sometime in late 1930 or 31.
Below, from their NASM dossiers, is an image of another advertisement they used once they had established their business. The brothers provided flight instruction, charter work and wedding ceremonies aloft.
Wadlow Brothers, Ca. Early 1930s (Source: NASM)
The Great Depression did take its toll on their business. After 1933 their paths diverged. Truman flew for TWA as copilot of Ford trimotor aircraft during the early 1930s, and then worked for Walter Beech as a test pilot and salesman, having one of the first Beechcraft sales offices in the country. He was selling planes in California when Register pilot Wiley Post and Will Rogers were preparing for their trip to Russia that ended in a fatal crash in Alaska. Truman asked Post about his airplane. Post said, "She's not running too good but Willie wants to fish so we'll just have to fly on my reputation."
He flew for TWA during WWII as a transport pilot and made many flights across the Atlantic in DC-6 aircraft flying troops and cargo eastbound and wounded Americans and German prisoners westbound. One of his returning passengers was Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist. When President Roosevelt went to Casablanca, Truman flew a plane carrying the press. After WWII he flew for the Phillips Petroleum Company until his retirement in the early 1970s. He lived in Bartlesville, OK with his wife.
He and his brother were named to the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983. Born June 11, 1907 he died June 17, 1993 in Oklahoma City, OK.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/17/08 REVISED: 10/13/10