Bonnie Rowe
Bonnie Rowe, Airplane Daredevil and Doug Davis, Pilot
late 1920's

from the Museum of Buford
Courtesy of Lynn A. Bowman, 10-11-07

via email from Rebecca Bradshaw, 10-23-07
Mr. Cooper,
     I've been researching Bonnie Rowe for the past year, and have been lucky enough to become close friends with his son, Bonnie Rowe, Jr. I have many, many original documents, recorded family stories, etc. from Mr. Rowe, with the plans of someday writing a book about Bonnie Rowe. I've already published a few short accounts about him in an aviation newsletter, and in the Gwinnet Co. historical society paper.
     If you get the GBA channel on TV, (Georgia Public Broadcasting), you may have had a chance to see Mr. Rowe, Jr. on a documentary last night titled "The South Takes Flight." There was a huge section about Bonnie, Sr.--it was thrilling to see!
     Bonnie's part of the documentary was filmed out in Peachtree City, where Ron Alexander and several others are creating a reproduction of Candler Field--Bonnie, Sr's old stomping grounds (or jumping grounds, I should say!).There is going to be a museum on site, and a section of it will be dedicated to Bonnie.
      According to his son, motorcycles were the one thing Bonnie was afraid of. Nope, he was just a daredevil, who, from childhood on, wasn't afraid of most anything. He was well known in Buford as a kid for standing on his head on top of the town water tower! As an adult he'd supplement his parachuting, wing walking income by standing on his head on water towers in small towns across the South. (That's how he met Bonnie Jr's mother, BTW--she nursed him after he fell from a tower in Gastonia, NC.) BTW, the mistake about the Bonnie being a motorcycle daredevil is a common one. His son tells me it was probably Bonnie's younger brother who wreaked such havoc in Buford,. Apparently the Rowe boys were all a little wild!
     One last clarification--Bonnie was actually hanging on the crossbeam (there's a technical term for it, but I don't know what it is), practicing for an upcoming exhibition. Apparently he just couldn't pull himself back up (his son thinks it was because of the many, many broken bones he'd sustained over the years), and finally just had to let go.
Thank you,
Rebecca Bradshaw
Buford, GA

Bonnie Rowe
Bonnie Rowe &
from History of Hapeville, Georgia
Courtesy of Bill McElhannon, 1-12-07

Bonnie Rowe
extract from the book History of Hapeville, Georgia
Courtesy of Bill McElhannon, 1-12-07
     "Bonnie Rowe was born June 18, 1900, at Buford, Georgia. Bonnie had no mechanical or pilot training. However, in 1922, when he learned of a parachute jumper opening in Tennessee, he applied for the job and was accepted. He and his family barnstormed the country as a parachute jumper--and daredevil.
     Barnstorming seemed to circulate in his veins. He became a leading daredevil--parachute jumping, wing walking and acrobatics while stunting. He was a star performer with the Mabel Cody Flying Circus for several years. He performed with Doug Davis' Flying Circus in the mid 20's. He jumped in practically every state in the Union, particularly the Southeast, performing in any town that afforded a landing field.
     In 1929, Bonnie won first prize at the Cleveland Air Races, for the delayed-opening parachute jump, against 31 of the world's greatest daredevils. He held the world's record of more than 12,000 jumps.
Editor's Note:You can read the rest of his story in the book, History of Hapeville. You may be able to find a few copies for sale by searching the net. There may also be a copy available through your library. The article offers several other photographs of him and stories of other notable pioneer aviators.

Bonnie Rowe
Daredevil Bonnie Rowe hanging by feet from
aircraft wings struts, 1920's

from History of Hapeville, Georgia
Courtesy of Bill McElhannon, 1-12-07

via email from Keith Humphrey
     I have very little info, but my father's first cousin was Bonnie Rowe who was a wingwalker with Mable's Cody's flying Circus. Bonnie was also associated with Doug Davis Sr. (learned to fly from the Wrights) Richard Curly Burns and Slim Culpepper.
     Bonnie Rowe was buried in his home town of Buford, GA. On his headstone is a man on the wing of a plane. Wish I knew more.
Keith Humphrey

via email from Keith Humphrey, 12-20-06
     I found some info you might be interested in, It seems Richard Curley Burns married Mabel Cody. I found a site (which I lost) telling about Mabel Cody being in a crash in Jacksonville, FL. and her filming some of her shows. (I would love to see them!) It named Curley Burns as her promoter and husband. Curley was involved in aviation by 1928 when he, Slim Culpepper, Louise Tisdale (later married Slim) and Bonnie Rowe started a flying circus in Georgia.
     I also did a little research on Bonnie Rowe during Thanksgiving. My uncle, who is in his 80's, remembers his cousin. My uncle says he was a daredevil before he started wing walking. He was a legend around Buford for a while, but most of those who could remember him are dead or in their upper 80s.

1 Commending Doug Davis, Sr.; and for other purposes.
2 WHEREAS, pioneer pilot Doug Davis, Sr., trained under the
3 direction and guidance of Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville
4 (1871-1948) Wright, American aviational pioneers, with the
5 first powered flight. During this time he became a friend
6 to these giants of American history, and Orville Wright
7 signed Doug's pilot's certificate; and

8 WHEREAS, Doug Davis, Sr., had a flying circus, thrilling
9 people with stunts such as wing walking and parachute
10 jumping. One stunt involved picking up Bonnie Rowe, his
11 parachute jumper, from the top of a fast moving train. By
12 the time Doug had done this stunt, he had joined the flying
13 circus of Mabel Cody, who was the niece of Buffalo Bill
14 Cody; and

15 WHEREAS, Doug was Eastern Airlines' first captain and no
16 stranger to the boys who started Delta Airlines. Doug also
17 flew the first commercial airline flight from Atlanta to New
18 York, and in the National Air and Space Museum in
19 Washington, D.C., his statue stands by "Eddie" Rickenbacker
20 (1890-1973), American aviator, World War I ace flyer, and
21 businessman; and

22 WHEREAS, Doug opened the first hangar on Candler Field; by
23 that, he offered Atlanta's first air training school and the
24 first charter service. Today, from that very spot, one can
25 look a short distance and view the big jets as they come and
26 go from the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International
27 Airport. Doug saw the vision of the Atlanta airport as a
28 crossroads to the world, and on his field, Doug offered a
29 clay runway where his friend, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh,
30 came through.

Quotation from

     If you search for "Bonnie Rowe.", using the Google search engine, (11-21-06), you will find several links which offers copies of this resolution. .

Bonnie Rowe's grave
Bonnie Rowe's Grave
Buford, Georgia
Collection of Keith Humphrey, 11-21-06

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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