Peter Bowers’ ‘Fly Baby’ Remembered Through Mural

Seattle-area aviator earns a larger-than-life tribute on a hangar wall at Auburn, Washington, airport.

Auburn Municipal Airport-Dick Scobee Field (S50) is sporting a new mural honoring a local aviator who made good. [Credit: Meg Godlewski]

Auburn Municipal Airport-Dick Scobee Field (S50) is sporting a new mural honoring a local aviator who made good. On the airside of a T-hangar wall, you'll see a colorful tribute to Peter Bowers, a Seattle-area aerospace engineer, aviation historian, and homebuilt aircraft designer.

In 1962 Bowers won the Experimental Aircraft Association's design competition with his low-wing, single-seat, open cockpit, wood-and-fabric monoplane dubbed the “Fly Baby.” Bowers designed the aircraft to be built from plans in the average garage with hand tools by someone with average skills. The plans consist of a thick stack of typewritten instructions and drawings.

The mural depicts a pilot flying the Fly Baby prototype with Mount Rainier in the background. Seattle artist Pat Moriarity contributed the Fly Baby nose art design.

The Bowers mural was painted by Myron Curry, the same artist who last fall created the larger-than-life mural to honor Washington native and astronaut Dick Scobee, who graduated from nearby Auburn High School in 1957. Scobee became an Air Force test pilot, engineer, and astronaut, and served as the pilot on the space shuttle Challenger’s last flight in 1986. The Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven crew members. In the years that followed, there were several honorifics granted for the crew. In 2004, it was named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and the airport was renamed Auburn Municipal Airport-Dick Scobee Field.

Bowers was born on May 15, 1918, and lived mostly in Seattle, taking his first airplane ride at the age of 10. He had a keen interest in designing and building model aircraft, which served him well when he enrolled in an aeronautical engineering course at the newly formed Boeing School of Aeronautics in Seattle. He enlisted as an engineering cadet in the Army Air Corps and spent five years in the U.S. Army Air Force as a maintenance officer. In 1947 he was hired by Boeing as an engineer. In his later years, he took to writing about historical aviation, and his works appeared in numerous publications.

Bowers died on April 27, 2003.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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