Robert Fowler Robert Fowler  
  Robert G. Fowler Robert G. Fowler, 1956  

Bob Fowler
R G Fowler at Ranger, Texas - 1911
Photo courtesy of Jeane Pruett, 4-12-06
     This is a photo of Robert G. Fowler's aeroplane in V. V. Cooper's field on November 24, 1911. The field became the Ranger Airport in 1928.
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.

Bob Fowler
R G Fowler
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
Photo Courtesy of Roy Nagl
Ancient Aviators Website

Bob Fowler
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

Historical Excerpts on the 1911 Cole Airplane Flight
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.


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.
  Robert Fowler  
  Fowler's "Atlantic to the Pacific" Flight  

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.
From WALDO, Pioneer Aviator
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.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
March, 1956

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.
From The Early Bird Times
Newsletter of the Early Birds of Aviation
October, 1995
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. 

  Early Birds  

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.

Sprague Library
Harvey Mudd College.

"This web site is designed to show what the contents of Sprague Library has to offer in Carruthers Special Collection on aviation history. Specifically, this site deals with the portion of the collection devoted to photographs, posters, artists drawings and media publications. The approximately 4800 books in the Carruthers aviation collection are already in the on-line library catalog. The topics mentioned in this site are limited to the subjects available in this particular collection of approximately 445 Photos; 400 documents, 115 posters, lithographs/engravings; . They represent several periods of aviation history of ballooning since 1783, and heavier-than-air vehicles since 1900 and the people and events which made that history."


  Robert Fowler  

     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.
Photo from Collection of Lester Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

  Highly Recommended Further Reading:
WALDO: Pioneer Aviator
A Personal History of American Aviation, 1910-1944
by Waldo Dean Waterman
with Jack Carpenter
Arsdalen, Bosch & Co.
The Life and Times of Robert G. Fowler
by Maria S. Burden
Borden Publishing Co.

Bob Fowler died in 1966
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members
January 1, 1966