Frank Stanton arrived in Princeton in late April 1917. In 1916, while serving with an Austrailian Infantry unit he marched in the British Expeditionary Forces campaigns in both Africa and the Dardenelles. He was wounded sometime in 1916, and invalided out of the service. Shortly thereafter, he arrived in the US and took flight training at both Newport News and Buffalo, NY. Awarded Aero Club of America Certificate # 526. He may have been a flight instructor at Buffalo as well.
Stanton was a popular and boisterous member of the PFC. The field at Princeton was fairly small, accomodating about 38 students distributed among 4 instructors. Stanton's regular students included Lansing C. "Denny" Holden, an undergraduate in the class of 1919. In June, Stanton and Holden took off in a JN-4B for their morning flight. The field was bordered to the west by Mercer Road, a dirt road which ran from Lawrenceville to Princeton, and telegraph wires. Taking off towards the road, the Jenny did not clear the wires and caught it's landing gear. The wires held and the Jenny was spun upside down, dropping directly onto Mercer Road. The top wing took most of the impact and collapsed. Holden and Stanton ducked inside the fuselage and their cockpit rims crashed onto the upper wing. Neither was injured in the crash, but the plane was a total writeoff. Stanton's rich vocabulary of Anzac cuss words came out in full force. Charles Grant, also one of Stanton's students, recalled Stanton pulled himself out of the wreck "..cussing to beat the band...".
Holden later went on to France and served with the 95th Aero Squadron. He scored seven victories before the end of the war and earned the DSC.
In July 1917, "Rasputin the Black Monk" was filmed at Princeton. Starring Montague Love and Julia Dean, Stanton did the flying sequences and may have had a bit part in the movie. John Morgan, a Princeton undergrad may have also appeared. They used the PFC aircraft still on the field at Princeton. This film was produced by the World Film Corporation, but no print is known to exist.
In August, the PFC was shut down by the university, but the equipment was purchased by the West Virginia Flying Corps or Wheeling, W. Va. Stanton stayed on at Princeton and using the same field and equipment, ran a flying school there for the W.Va Flying Corps. That winter, the school shifted south to Daytona, Fla where Stanton discovered what the local race car drivers already knew. The long hard beach at Daytona made a perfect landing site.
The W. Va Flying Corps evolved into the West Va. Aircraft Company and Stanton, along with "Slim" Eckstrom, helped establish a training field right on the beach at Daytona. Stanton alternated time between Daytona and Princeton at least until 1919. By the winter of 1919, he was certified to award both Aero Club of America certificate and ACA Expert aviators licenses
. He returned to Florida again in Dec 1920 still working for WVAC through a subsidiary, the Rahe Flying School. In late April 1921, Stanton retuned to Kansas City where Rahe was based. Not long afterwards, he left flying and eventually became an executive for a textile mill in South Carolina.
Stanton's flying activites at Daytona are detailed in "Thrills Chills and Spills" by Dick and Yvonne Punnett, pulished in 1990 by Luthers Publishing of Smyrna Beach, Fla.
This photo and brief biographical sketch have been generously supplied by Mike O'Neal. Mike has been compiling a complete history of the Princeton group since around 1980. Over the last few years, he has interviewed many of the families and writes that he is glad he waited just a bit longer to start writing the "final" product. If you have more information or photos of this pioneer aviator, we would love to hear from you.