The Gov goes flying

Thursday, April 23, 2020 9:19 PM

Gov. Lynn Frazier held office from 1917 to 1921. He goes down in history as the first governor to ever be removed from office by a recall although he’d likely want to forget that piece of history if he were still alive.

A century ago this week he set another first when he took to the air on April 15, 1920. According to reports in the newspapers of the day, it was  possibly the first time a governor of any state had taken a ride in an airplane.

Frazier’s little air trip was part of a campaingn. He was first elected in 1916 and reelected in 1918 and 1920 before losing the recall election in 1921. Ironically, His administration had gotten the mechanisms for the recall of elected officials on the books only to be removed from office by the process.

He flew from Fort Lincoln to Wabeck, located in Mountrail County of North Dakota. The trip was about 100 miles and took about an hour and a quarter. And that, according to the newspapers, was with a tail wind.

“The aerial traverlers sped on their way over the housetops of Bismarck,” wrote the Bismarck Tribune in a front page article. 

The governor’s campaign speech hit on the topics of how the Nonpartisan League was helping the farmers. The governor reportedly got in the plane the next day and flew from Wabeck to Baldwin for another speech.

Frazier may have been born in Minnesota but was a product of North Dakota. He graduated high school from Grafton and attended Mayville Normal and the University of North Dakota. Outside the realm of politics, he worked as a teacher and farmer

The plane was piloted by Lt. C.J. Cameron. His plane was described as a two-seat biplane that  “gracefully rose from the ground and circled the field, gaining altitude."

The passenger seat was the front cockpit which was up “under the wing” according to newspaper reports. While the articles don’t mention how Frazier or Cameron were dressed, I think we can assume they wore the leather helmets and goggles common to the aviators of the day.

Think of Snoopy climbing into the cockpit of his doghouse to do combat with the Red Baron.

Not sure what all Gov. Frazier accomplished in his term as governor. He was removed from the top office in North Dakota state government in 1921 but elected to the U.S. Senate in 1923 where he served until 1940.