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Frank Thomas


Aviator Frank K.‘‘Flying Frank’’ Thomas (September 16, 1921-March 23, 2001) was born in Lansing, Fayette County, the youngest of eight children. He earned his nickname from spending a long lifetime in the air: flying charter passengers to distant places, taking others sight-seeing over the New River Gorge, giving flight lessons, looking for downed aircraft with the Civil Air Patrol, spotting forest fires, and just about everything else connected with aviation. In 1946, he almost single-handedly built Fayette Airport, which he owned and operated. He took up one of his planes every day the weather permitted.

By the late 20th century, Thomas was an author, a poet, an artist, and a philosopher. He was an aviation legend and a colorful figure in the emergence of New River tourism, best known for his $5 tours of New River Gorge. His 1978 book, It Is This Way with Men Who Fly, is a fascinating history of West Virginia aviation. At an age when others had retired he said he loved flying so much that he hated to leave the field at night.

Written by Louis E. Keefer


  1. Thomas, Frank. It is this Way with Men Who Fly. Parsons: McClain, 1978.

  2. Keefer, Louis E. Flying Frank Thomas: 'Just Like a Preacher with the Calling.'. Goldenseal, (Summer 1992).