Photo courtesy of Jeane Pruett, 4-12-06
Editor's Note: I spoke with Jeane Pruett, President of the Ranger Historical Preservation Society this morning, (4-12-06), who informed me that the photo above came from her own personal collection. In addition, she reported that their plan to place a historical marker on the airport is proceeding on schedule. She also expanded on the history of the Ranger Airport itself and the surrounding area, another interesting story in its own right.
Coast to Coast Aviator
This is a photo of the Early Bird Robert Fowler flying a biplane, which I thought you might like to use for your web page about him. I obtained this photo only today, so this is the seller's scan and I will send you a better scan of it, once the actual photo arrives. I believe Robert Fowler would have been one of the contestants in the 1927 Dole Air Race to Hawaii, which you may already know, had he not crashed his Wasp monoplane before the race. I discovered this, while researching the air race for my web page about it.
Roy Nagl - 10-14-02
Ancient Aviators Website
Left to right standing: Charles Henderson & J. J. Cole
Seated in the open cockpit: Robert G. Fowler
Photo from the COLE BULLETIN, Vol 3, No. 2, FALL, 1997
Courtesy of Leroy D. Cole
From the COLE BULLETIN, Vol 3, No. 2, FALL, 1997
Taken from Various Magazines
Courtesy of Leroy D. Cole
September 16, 1911.
AERO, America's Aviation Weekly;
"Ocean-to-Ocean Race Begins"
San Francisco, Cal., September 11 (by telegraph).--Robert G. Fowler left the stadium in Golden Gate Park this afternoon on the initial stage of his journey from ocean to ocean for the $50,000 Hearst prize. Word has been received late this evening that he finally came to a stop at Auburn, Cal., with 128 miles to his credit for his first day's flight, with a total flying time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. Fowler is driving a Wright biplane equipped with a Cole automobile motor.
He made his start from here, cheered by a large crowd at 1:35 this afternoon and headed his biplane northeast over Oakland and the Sacramento valley. He reached Sacramento at 3:33, making the trip of 75 miles in 1 hour and 58 minutes. There, after a brief meeting with the governor, Hiram W. Johnson, he mounted to his seat and drove off again toward the distant gap in the snow line of the Sierras through which he hopes to pass. He departed from Sacramento at 5:55, James Rolph, Jr., of the San Francisco Merchants' Exchange; C. C. Moore, president of the Pacific International Exposition, and Frank L. Brown were the official starters at San Francisco.
As his provisional schedule reads tonight he will make stops at Elko, Nev.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Granger and Cheyenne, Wyo.; North Platte and Omaha, Neb.; Rock Island, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Pittsburg, Buffalo, Albany and New York. He will follow the tracks of the South and Northwestern Railroad into Chicago. He is accompanied by a special train, which carried a full staff of mechanics and extra parts for three machines.
As Fowler came into Sacramento and alighted on the fair grounds he was cheered by a crowd larger than had ever gathered in the state capital before. His mechanicians had fairly to fight their way through it to reach the machine for the necessary grooming after the first stage of his journey. When the aviator met the governor he asked him if he had any message for the governor of New York.
"You are the best message California can send," replied Johnson.
Contributed by Michael Weaver, 5-31-10
He was a friend of my paternal grandfather. He spent several months in Western Europe in 1907 putting on 5,800 miles driving a car about the continent prior to having it shipped home to the U.S.
In 1913 he was in Panama City
Contributed by Michael Weaver, 9-5-10
Thanks for the response.
The early 1900's were an exciting time as it was both the beginnings of cars and planes. I recently have been going through and reading hundreds of penny post cards, some of which are circa 1906-1913. Penny post cards were the "emails" of the era. They were shorter messages sent, some of which refer to a letter received or due to be sent soon, as time allowed. They were a popular way of staying in contact, before even a lot of phone lines.
Amongst these many post cards are cards sent to both my paternal grandmother and grandfather prior to them being married in 1913. Several of the cards to my Grandfather came from R.G. Fowler mostly in 1907. A couple of the first ones I found were signed by the initials R.G.F., some then by R.G. Fowler. Most were addressed to Dear Friend,
It was after reading several of these that I discovered that R.G. was reporting to my Grandfather about his long road trip about Western Europe, in 1907! Finding gasoline and fixing flat tires, or obtaining new tires, must have been a challenge. He reported going a total of 5,800 miles on his Wester Europe travels! Another card references R.G. learning of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.
I do not know the details, at least yet, as to how he met my Grandfather, or where their friendship started. My Grandfather Clarence Leon Weaver and family lived in San Luis Obispo, Gilroy, and later Hollister. My Great Grandfather Clarence Roy Weaver was a dentist in Gilroy for many years as well as being a pharmacist.
R.G. reports the weather in London was horrible (even then!) and that he shipped his car home and was going back to Paris for awhile (steamship) before returning home. R.G. and family must have had some money for all this to take place.
I asked the reference librarian at the local Monterey library about a book on R.G. I was directed to visit on of the County libraries who have an interchange loan policy with the library in San Jose that has a copy. I'd like to learn more.
BEFORE TURNING TO PLANES
Early Bird Trustee R. G. (Bob) Fowler drove racing cars before he started piloting airplanes.
A native of San Francisco, Fowler entered the auto business early in life. He got interested in auto racing and won a number of events between 1903 and 1911. In the meantime, he had begun flying and in 1911 got instruction from the Wrights and entered a $50,000 race across the U. S. He recalls, "I was the first to start and the last to finish --- spent 112 days en route."
After organizing the LWF Company at New York in 1916, Fowler started the Fowler Airplane Corp. in San Francisco. The company built 275 training planes for the Signal corps. After World War I, he turned to passenger carrying in the S. F. area in a Bluebird plane.
|Fowler's "Atlantic to the Pacific" Flight|
BOB'S FLIGHT ACROSS THE ISTHMUS, 1913
Having been beaten by "Vin Fiz" Rodgers, Bob Fowler was still trying for records --- and he'd just set one of flying nonstop from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was a dubious distinction since he had merely overflown the isthmus of Panama, but it did get him 'star' billing at the Orpheum Theatre. I well remember sitting in its rococo majesty while the lights dimmed and his plane's engine started barking and shooting out jabs of flame. The audience thought this simple show just grand, and he was quite the temporary hero. After the show, I went backstage, met Fowler and began a lifelong friendship. We'd both be heavily involved in making Jennys for the war two years later.
The craft is now at the Smithsonian Institution
for exhibition when space is available.
In addition to the Early Birds, Fowler is active in the QB's, NAA, OX-5 club and ISAW. As a free lance writer, he has written stories as far back as 1921, and was Aero Digest representative in Chicago for two years --- 1923-'25. He himself was the subject of an article in the Aug. 1958 issue of Rexista Do Er, a Portuguese flying magazine.
On the occasion of the Early Birds program on September 7th during the Oklahoma City Reunion, Executive President Jim Greenwood announced a program which featured astronaut Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson, Capt. USN, Commander of the ATLANTIS STS-71, the first space shuttle to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir, His account of the mission was momentous enough to warrant a standing ovation, but in addition, he sprung a second secret on the unsuspecting audience.
He had taken with him a cap belonging to original Early Bird Robert G. Fowler. "Hoot" presented the cap to the late Bob Fowler's grandaughters, Candace Bush and Berylann Nelson. This historic artifact ultimately will be displayed in an Early Bird Exhibit at an established aerospace museum yet to be selected. Gibson, on behalf of NASA, presented the Early Birds with a handsome plaque (testifying to the fact Bob Fowler's cap was flown on Atlantis) which will be the centerpiece of the proposed exhibit. The plaque bears the signatures of all the crew, including the four Russians transported in Atlantis, and features photos taken during the mission and an American flag that flew with the cap.
Newsletter of the Early Birds of Aviation
by D. "Andy" Anderson.
By George Chevalier
Robert is mentioned in this story.
You will also find some other familiar names.
Early Birds O. G. Simmons and Clarence Degiers
and several other early fliers. Click on:
EARLY BIRDS AT FOWLERS, 1956
Collection of Walter Lees
Back, L to R: ?, ?, Robert G. Fowler, Ruth Law Oliver, Filip A. Bjorklund, ?, ?
Front, L to R: ?, Walter E. Lees, ?, Anthony Stadlman, ?
I found this picture in Walter's collection which only bore the cryptic identification, "Early Birds at Fowlers, San Jose, 19?? It was written in pen by Loa, Walter's wife. Inasmuch as Walter died on May 17, 1957, I suspect this photo might have been taken in 1956.
According to the Spring issue of the "CHIRP", the Official publication of the Early Birds, for June, 1957, the Third V.P. was Robert G. Fowler. Walter can be seen second from the left, kneeling.
My wife Jo thinks the man standing on the extreme left may be Forrest Wysong. If you can help with the identification, let us hear from you.
Bob Fowler, on the occasion of his 79th birthday anniversary, was surrounded by an octette of veteran west coast flyers and a supply of luscious goodies. Forward cupbearers are Bob Reid and Jack Vargas. Looking on from the rear are Cecil Reid, Roy Keeler, Burr Winslow, John Guglielmetti, Geoffrey Owen and Al Kelly. Carl Bigelow, as usual, was on the other side of the camera, when this pix was snapped at San Jose.
Courtesy of David Balanky