Mack H. Rowe

Mack H. Rowe

(1919-1980) Enshrined November 12, 2011

Aviation was Mack Rowe’s passion from the age of five and it became his lifelong vocation. During 45 years of flying he, arguably, flew more types of aircraft than any other Tennessee pilot. Some, documented in log books and military records include: P-36, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-61, P-63, B-17, B-25, B-26, C-46, C-47, C-54, C-78, ME-109, Fieseler Stork, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, De Haviland Mosquito, along with numerous civilian aircraft from the Lockheed Lodstar to the Lockheed Constellation. In the early 60’s, before the age of corporate jets, Mack used his personal P-51D Mustang for business trips. Mack began flying at the age of fifteen at the former McConnell Field under the direction of Louis and Albert Gasser. Later, Mack and his younger brother Gene bought a Curtiss Robin and went barnstorming around the southeast. When WWII began Mack’s civilian flight experience earned him a direct commission as a First Lieutenant. His squadron was shipped overseas to fly in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. During one mission, flying a P-40, he was forced down in the desert during a sand storm and was rescued four-days later. A few days later he took a crew back, dug it out, patched it up and flew it back to base without a canopy. In 1946 Mack joined the 105th Air National Guard Fighter Squadron flying P-47’s at Nashville’s Berry Field under the command of Col. G.A. “Skeet’s” Gallagher. Later that year he joined Jesse Stallings and Henry Cannon to start Capitol Airways at Cumberland Field, now Nashville’s Metro Center. As Chief Pilot and ultimately CEO, Mack guided Capitol Airways from a grass field to an international air carrier with a fleet of DC-8’s flying to Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, employing over 3,800 people worldwide. At it’s headquarters and heavy maintenance base at Smyrna Airport, Capitol International Airways employed over 700 people. Along the way, Mack made many friends in the aviation community: Bob Hoover, Chuck Yeager, Jackie Cochran, Paul Tibbetts, Beevo Howard, Cornelia Fort, Betty Gorrell, Tennessee Hall of Fame member John Ellington, and many more not only in commercial aviation, but many private pilots all who shared his great love of aviation both past and future. Tennessee’s late Adjutant General Earl Pate, of the Tennessee Air National Guard said, “Mack Rowe probably had more influence on commercial aviation in Nashville than any single person.”

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Posted on

June 17, 2016