Robert G. Fowler: First man to fly from West to East Coast of the USFeb 19 2012 · 0 comments · News, Pictures and Videos
Have you ever thought about the man for whom our street is named?
Robert George Fowler, or Bob to all who knew him, was an avid aviation pioneer.
In February 1912, one hundred years ago this month, he landed in Jacksonville, Florida. 116 days and 66 stops earlier he left San Francisco in his Wright Biplane with a Cole Automobile Co engine. Read the original press dispatches of the flight here.
Bob Fowler was only the second man to cross the United States by air, the first being Cal Rogers in the Vin Fizz going East to West. Fowler’s was the first West to East flight, and he was also the first man to fly a non-stop trans-continental flight, flying from the Pacific to the Atlantic along the Isthmus of Panama. Unlike his earlier flight of 66 stops, this one was only 57 minutes long. However it landed him in some trouble because he took aerial photos of the Panama Canal and associated fortifications being built. Despite having the permission and encouragement of the commanding general he ended in court, but charges were eventually dropped.
But he was not just an exhibitionist. Fowler joined the San Jose Technical College and founded what later became the Aviation Department of San Jose State University. He was responsible for building the department and worked with other early aviation pioneers in the Santa Clara Valley in between the first and second world wars.
Bob Fowler died in 1966 and is buried next to his wife Leonore in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.