Dale Frakes grew up in the shadows of what is now Tulsa International Airport. He now lives at what was the south end of the old Brown Airport runway.

As a youngster on the family farm he watched planes landing at Collier Field. He dreamed of being a pilot and soloed at 15. In 1938 he was flying out of Harvey Young Airport and spent 20-plus years as a corporate pilot for Warren Petroleum.

Frakes is chairman of the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Fly-In at the Dog Iron Ranch at Oologah.

He is the inspiration for an oil painting Gail Frakes Booth has done for the Will Rogers Museum. A blue and white plane, representing Post’s Winnie Mae and a silver plane — Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis — are coming in for a landing at the Will Rogers birthplace ranch in “Past Meets Present.” The house, offset from the grass landing strip and surrounded by the white fence, sets the scene for the painting.

Booth will join her father for the Sunday, Aug. 13 fly-in to unveil the painting and present it for display in the Will Rogers Museum.

“He thinks so much of the person of Will Rogers, the museum and the ranch,” she said. “And he was in aviation most of his life. The Spirit of St. Louis and the Winnie Mae were a huge part of his life,” and hers too, she admits, growing up in a house were aviation and history have been so important.

“I struggled with the idea of both airplanes,” she said. “I am not a realist, but feel there has to be a certain amount of truth in a painting.”

She had to come to grips with Post and Lindbergh landing at the ranch.

“Then I went to the ranch. I was walking; looking around and suddenly it hit me.

“The ranch is not where it’s supposed to be. The lake is not real.”

Suddenly she knew the airplanes of Will’s friends belonged on the ranch.

The title grew from the history she shares with her father. “My father was a part of the pioneering era of aviation. In the Army Air Corps, even before days of the Air Force and years of corporate flying, the whole era of the petroleum industry.

“I wanted to do it out of respect for him.”

She also has a personal motive: her own love of the Will Rogers Museum, memories of coming here as a child.

“Now as an artist, I have had an opportunity to have works in Gilcrease,” to have a painting in the Will Rogers Museum is a real life’s bonus.

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