Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Bob Barlow

In Memoriam

January 28, 1921 - November 20, 2012

Captain Bob Barlow was hired by FTL on 1/12/1950 and retired due to medical conditions around 1968 while training for the DC-8.  Below is his obituary and written in the Catalina Islander in 2012

Robert Virgil Barlow passed away in his sleep on Tuesday, Nov. 20,, 2012 at his home on Marilla. He was born on Jan. 28, 1921, in Arcadia, Calif., to Virgil and Martha Barlow, and was the youngest of two sons.  Barlow was raised on a dairy farm, where taking care of the cows and delivering milk was a way of life.  But flying was his real passion, and he pursued that at the earliest age the regulations would allow.  He towed banners and was the youngest flight instructor at Monrovia airport where he was employed in the late 1930s.

Four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he quickly married his high school sweetheart Jerry Hotz and they remained together until she passed away in 1993.
Barlow flew for the civil service, delivering aircraft within the US and Canada, at the beginning of the war because he was still too young to join the Army Air Corp.  When he was old enough he served until the end of World War II.  In that period he flew a long list of aircraft from the smallest of fighters to the largest of bombers.

But his favorite aircraft during the war was the P-38 Lightning, a twin-engine fighter that the German Luftwaffe nicknamed the “fork-tailed devil.” Ironically he never served in Europe, but spent a lot of time “flying the hump” (the Himalayas) from India to China carrying fuel and supplies to support the war effort in the south Pacific.  He also ferried (delivered) aircraft to locations outside the US.  This included one hazardous volunteer mission, for which he was decorated, flying with eight other P-38s from California to the western Pacific.  He loved to relate that on that trip they stopped for refueling on Christmas Island, on Christmas day, 1942.  He had duty in the United States as well, and when he wasn’t ferrying brand new B-29s out of Kansas, he was a flight instructor in Long Beach, California.

After the War he continued to follow his passion for flying.  In 1947 Barlow and Jerry moved to Costa Rica where he flew a small single-engine amphibian aircraft spotting tuna for a large canning company.  A few years later they moved to Bermuda where he was based with a small airline, and where by then they had a son, Alan, and daughter, Robin.

In the early 1950s they moved to Long Beach and he was hired by the Flying Tiger Line, a fright airline, where he remained for the next 20 years.
In 1956 they bought a small summer cottage on Eucalyptus, and enjoyed a beautiful summer there.  When September came the family unanimously decided not to return to Long beach and remained on the island.  That was the beginning of a Barlow family love affair with Catalina, which lives on today.

In 1981 Barlow took over management of the Golf Gardens miniature golf course and it ran until 2009 when the Island Company took over the operation.  Most people reading this probably know Barlow mostly for the many hours of enjoyment that they experienced there.  He seemed happiest when families were enjoying themselves in the peaceful setting of the course, and when children would look for and pet the dogs and cats that were often sleeping in the open window of the office.
Barlow was a loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather, a caring provider, and a lover and protector of animals and all life.  He is survived by his son Alan and daughter Robin; her husband George; three grandchildren, Matthew, Daniel and Tyler Michelle; and two great grandchildren.
His wish was for a private family memorial internment. The family requests that any donations be made to the Catalina Island Humane Society.

His son, Alan, contributed to this page by submitting the following in October, 2018

I recall my Dad flying and talking about the aircraft he flew; C-46, C-54 (which he alternately referred to as DC 4), DC 6, L1049H “Connie”, CL 44 and Boeing 707.  In the 1950s he so loved one DC 4 that he had a scale model of it made, down to the logo and “N” number, and it was a conversation piece in the home for many years. Other than that he rarely discussed a favorite aircraft type, though I gleaned from his discussions that he did enjoy flying, and appreciated the design and engineering of, the Connie and the 707 more than others. He was studying to fly the “stretch” DC 8 when he was forced to retire for medical reasons, and I do recall that he was not happy about the Tigers foregoing the 707 for the “lead sled”. 

In the early years, before the Connie, I can recall the negative energy and venting he had to get out after a trip in which he lost an engine. I imagine that today’s pilots can go an entire career without losing an engine, except in the simulator, but back then it was not uncommon. I have a lot of respect for the pilots like my Dad who came up through WW II and endured a lot of flying hardship and conditions, but had that wonderful knowledge, experience and confidence because of it.

When I was young he flew to Europe and Germany a quite a lot. Later he flew Connies in the Pacific, and then the CL 44.  I could tell where he was flying by the souvenirs he brought back as gifts to us kids. I felt he was happiest flying the Pacific, especially during the days of the Connie.  When the CL 44 came along the Tigers opted to change the routing to the north, refueling in the Aleutians, and he complained about some of his harrowing approach and departure experiences there. On top of that he didn’t like the unnatural yoke roll control of the CL 44, and felt it was slow to respond because of the “trim tab” actuation of the ailerons.  But he did like the reliability of the turbine engines, and the only “engine” failure he had was with a gearbox, and I believe that was a cautionary shut-down.

 Personally I have quite a number of fond memories dead-heading on freighters to a number of domestic locales.  There was one contract that the Tigers had for the summer of 1960 which still may be remembered fondly by the offspring of the crews who flew it, and it was one of the very few times that my Dad did not fly as Captain.  The company had won a contract with the Government to service the “atomic” islands in the Pacific from Honolulu.  According to my Dad virtually every senior pilot and flight engineer bid it.  I recall the Connie flight to Hawaii filled with the crews and luggage, but what I remember most was the great time we had as a family living on Oahu for a summer. And my Dad didn’t complain about the flying. It was virtually all daylight and in beautiful weather, and he was home most of the time.

 As you probably know there were several losses of Tiger aircraft and crews during the period that he worked for the Tigers, and he took those losses quite personally. First he mourned the loss of the crews, but then felt guilty that it happened to them and not him.

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