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Sowers and Halloran — pilots who know all about speed

10 March 2015

Sowers and Halloran — pilots who know all about speed

Aeronca's "Flying Bathtub" — their C-2

Robert G. Sowers, Larry  Kean and Pat Halloran — Larry Kean photo

Our thanks to Larry Kean for thinking to send this image. The image includes two of the USA’s most accomplished pilots.

Robert Sowers piloted a Convair B-58A Hustler to win the Bendix Trophy in 1962. The story and the aircraft, as it is displayed today, can be seen in, Convair’s B-58 Hustler — Mach 2 hot and Bendix Trophy cool. Sowers also is the 115th qualified pilot of the SR-71 program. His friend, Pat Halloran, also flew the SR-71 (600 hours) as well as the U-2 (1600 hours).

Together they have knowledge and stories of some of the most advanced aircraft flown (B-58, U-2 and SR-71) — all flying at the edge of extreme performance envelopes. additionally, Sowers checked out Halloran in the SR-71, it being a small world.

Sowers (pronounced, sours) mentioned he suggested the name for the operation, Heat Rise, since the Hustler’s skin temperature would have to be constantly monitored during the dash flight of just over two hours duration. Additionally, the two horizontal red stripes on the tail identified the aircraft individually for Operation: Heat Rise. He also had to eject from SR-71 61-7957 after a double generator failure near Beale AFB. Later, Sowers flew commercially, after his USAF service, and piloted singer Charlie Pride for a time. While flying Charlie Pride in a Fairchild F 27 a midair collision challenged Sowers to land the aircraft with an engine out as well as a loss of some flight control. Robert Sowers is not a man who talks much, and has less printed of him, so this information is invaluable.

Halloran (pronunced, hall-oran) has much printed of him as he makes presentations to flying groups as well as serving in high-level positions. 100 combat missions in Korea in the F-84 along with his U-2 and SR-71 missions.

Again, our thanks to Larry Kean for the image, insights and seeing two good people who served in the USAF enjoying their friendship and retirement. Thanks too for his corrections 🙂


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry permalink
    4 December 2018 20:55

    Sadly my friend Robert Gray Sowers passed away Dec 1st 2018 at the age of 92. He will be missed. This is an interview with him talking about the B58.

  2. Matt Kinard permalink
    20 February 2023 20:39

    Col.Sowers was my late mother,Frances Sowers Kinard’s first cousin,we’re all from NC,Lexington,Sanford. Cousin Gray and his family visited us in Sanford a few times.The last time I saw him I asked if he still flew B-58s.I had a model of one.”Yes, he said,it’s a real Cadillac”. This was in the 1960s. Nobody knew by then he was flying SR,-71s. Cousin Gray never told anyone I think.He is missed.I found out about his Blackbird info,and photos,from a Paul Crickford book I think.

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