Robert L. Taylor, the founder of the Antique Airplane Association, passed away on June 20, 2020, just 12 days short of his 96th birthday.
Bob, as he was known to most, had been in declining health.
Born July 2, 1924, in Ottumwa, Iowa, Bob joined the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He served as a crew chief on P-38s and P-39s for the 24th Fighter Squadron, 6th Air Force in the Panama Canal Zone. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and assigned to a detached training unit.
Between wars, Bob earned his private pilot certificate and returned to his Iowa hometown to run the airport’s FBO. He also ran the FBOs at nearby Oskaloosa and Albia airports, as well as Antique Airfield in Blakesburg.
The name Blakesburg will long be associated with Bob’s vision to “Keep The Antiques Flying.” Imagine a visionary, who in 1953 saw the need to preserve the fast-disappearing airplanes of his youth, and using his own funds placed a $12 ad in Flying magazine, announcing AAA’s creation. He received 12 replies at one dollar per reply, breaking even, and AAA was born.
AAA’s first national fly-in was held in Ottumwa in 1954. Bob co-founded the Air Power Museum with J.G. “Jack” Lowe in 1965 and in 1970 established Antique Airfield.
Bob kept his own antiques flying by restoring several airplanes over the years, including a 1936 Porterfield 35W, 1939 Porterfield CP-50, 1929 General Aristocrat, 1933 Lockheed Vega, and a 1941 Interstate Cadet. The Cadet was the same airplane in which he soloed in 1946 while earning his private pilot certificate. His grandson, Benjamin, soloed in it at age 16.
For his many contributions to Iowa aviation Bob was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2007, his hometown added him to the Significant Ottumwa Aviators Roster (SOAR). The following year, the FAA honored him with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, and the following year, Bob received the EAA Founders Award. In 2010 Robert L. Taylor was recognized by the National Aeronautics Association (NAA) as an Elder Statesman of Aviation. Additional awards and honors over the years followed.
Bob was preceded in death by wife Eleanor Lorraine (Swanson) in 2006.
He is survived by son Barry Taylor, son Brent Taylor (Marcy), daughter Holly Taylor of Ballwin, Missouri, granddaughter Nicole Helm (Rich) of Lake St. Louis, granddaughter Dr. Whitney LeFevre (Nick) of Fort Worth, Texas, granddaughter Taylor Beck of Indianapolis, and grandson Benjamin Taylor of Ottumwa, Iowa, and great-grandchildren, John and Joseph Helm, and Aidan LeFevre.
The family welcomes memorial donations to the Air Power Museum “Gone West” Memorial. Online condolences may be left for the family at SinnottFuneralHome.com.