I was this guy’s first flight instructor and soloed him. On his first solo he proved that he had the correct instinct when he made a low pass on one wheel. He went on to become the Commanding officer of an FA-18 Squadron on an Aircraft carrier. He is a third-generation fighter pilot and has recently retired from the Navy. He’s now flying for Fed Ex. He is Geoff Bowman and to be honest, anyone could have been his first flight instructor, but I drew the short straw, so I get to gloat!
Mike and Geoff in formation over San Diego
I don’t think I really became aware of this families’ background in aviation until Jerry Groendyke, Bert Garrison and I went to Tennessee to shoot what became “Flying the Chipmunk” on the Tailwheeler’s journal. Geoff’s dad, Mike Bowman wrote the forward in “Brian’s Flying Book.” He was an admiral in the Navy and about ready to retire when he went to visit his son in San Diego. The powers that be lent Mike an FA-18 and the two launched off. The result is the picture above, which hangs in the Bowman den. I think it’s wonderful and was great of the Navy to celebrate this family!
When the second world war started, many U.S. Fliers joined the RAF. Geoff’s grandfather was one of them and it’s hard to imagine his heroism. His “Hurricane” was mounted on tracks on a merchant ship and his job was to launch off in it if enemy bombers were spotted, engage them, and either ditch or parachute next to a friendly ship.
What a rich tradition, to be the third generation of this family for whom so much is owed.