The Descriptive Finding Guide for the Burdett Fuller Personal Papers SDASM.SC.10051

Alan Renga
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego 92101

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Title: Burdett Fuller Personal Papers
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10051
Physical Description: 0.2 Cubic Feet One Box
Date (inclusive): 1880-1949
Abstract: Burdett Fuller was a naval reserve flyer who started a flying school and passenger service that grew into an active operation known as Burdett Airport and Burdett Airline.

Biographical / Historical

Commercial enterprises in early aviation began to develop after World War I when veteran aviators left the military and saw a future in air travel. Burdett Fuller was a naval reserve flyer who started a flying school and passenger service that grew into an active operation known as Burdett Airport and Burdett Airline located off Western Avenue at 94th Street in Southwestern Los Angeles. Fuller began his airline in 1919 with war surplus Jennys and opened his Burdett Airport in 1922. Primarily a flight instruction operation, he taught Jack Frye, his partner, Bobbie Trout, Paul Richter, Ruth Elder, Frances and Josephine Wood (first twin pilots) and Jack Maxness how to fly. His flight logbook indicates about 40% of his flying time was instruction with charter passenger, sightseeing, aerial photography, and therapy for hearing disabilities filling most of the entries from 1928 to 1935. Recognized as a pioneer commercial pilot, licensed as Transport Pilot #538, Fuller logged 10,031 hours, 38,225 flights, and 18,259 passengers during his commercial pilot career. He never lost a passenger or student. Fuller sold his interest in Burdett Airline and Airport to Jack Frye in 1927 and later worked for Douglas Aircraft as a test pilot. His student and partner, Jack Frye, developed Burdett Airline into mergers with Aero Corp. and Standard Airlines, later flying under Western Air Express (an early U.S. mail carrier) and finally into Trans World Airline (TWA) where he was president through the 1940s. Another historic aviation venture involving Fuller and Frye was known as the "13 Black Cats" a stunt team working for the pioneer movie industry in the early 1920s. Jack Frye was one of the pilots. They were based at Burdett Airport, reportedly the first private airport in Western United States. Fuller died December 24, 1949 at the Long Beach Naval Hospital at age 68. He was buried at Sawtelle National Cemetery.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Preferred Citation

[Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 1 scrapbook, 2 photo albums, and flight logbook.

Related Materials

Related SDASM Resources: A.L. Hobart Photo Album, AL-070 Luke Luqueer Photo Album, AL-073C
Related Research Institutions: Huntington Library, Los Angeles, CA Pima Air Museum Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA Smithsonian, National Air & Space Museum, Washington D.C.
Related Secondary Sources: Grand Central Air Terminal (Images of America) by John Underwood, Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Stunt flying
Burdett Fuller Airport
Trans World Airlines
McDonnell Douglas aircraft
Fuller, Burdett D.


Box 01


Series I: Flight Logbook – Burdett D. Fuller, Transport Pilot #538 (includes cloth pouch)

Physical Description: Flight log begans 5/31/28 with certification of 22,643 flights to date; 7,300 hours. Issued at Clover Field Airport, Santa Monica by Department of Commerce, Burdett Airport, 9401 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles. Log book continues from 6/1/28 to 2/25/35 totaling 38,225 flights, 18,295 passengers, and 10,031 hours. Airports logged as destinations – Aero Corp., Clover Field, Pacific, Goleta, Mines, Wilson, Long Beach, Downey, Carpentaria, United, Santa Ana, Glendale, and Arcadia. Flight descriptions – instruction (about 40%, sightseeing, pleasure, and passenger transport).

Series II: Scrap Book

Physical Description: Pages have been removed from original binding and are divided up into two folders. The scrap book includes newspaper clippings, brochures, and business cards from Fuller’s career as a transport pilot, instructor, test pilot and businessman.

Series III: Two Photo Albums

Physical Description: Mostly shots of pilots posed in front of aircraft and aerials of the Burdett Airport and surrounding area of Mines Field, Clover Field (Douglas Plant). Also included are photos of Bobbi Trout (prominent women pioneer pilot). Photos have been digitized and 178 images have been placed on Flickr.