Retired pilot returns to Blackfoot flying roots

BLACKFOOT — Buddy Bowman sat on a couch in the small office at the Blackfoot municipal airport, talking with his hands as he explained how he had flown the F-104 jet airplane as a test pilot.
"How did you ...?" asked Kerry Requa several different times. The airport manager and Bowman talked for a long time about things only pilots understand.
Bowman, a retired lieutenant colonel, is a native of Riverside. He attended Snake River schools through his junior year, then transferred to Blackfoot High School.
"They had two or three courses I felt like I needed," Bowman said of BHS. He had charted his career path through a degree in aeronautic engineering at Utah State University.
This weekend Bowman is back in Blackfoot, taking advantage of the fact that the classes of 1956 at both Blackfoot and Snake River high schools are celebrating their 55th anniversaries.
Most of the times Bowman returns to Southeastern Idaho, he makes a pilgrimage to the Blackfoot airport, more correctly known as the Lowell George McCarley Airport.
Mac sparked his interest in flying when Bowman was 10 years old. McCarley taught him to fly a few years later.
"Mac took Mom and Dad and me flying as a birthday present when I was 10 years old," Bowman recalled. "After that, I was hooked."
Bowman took his first flying lesson on Christmas Day, 1955. He eventually earned his private pilot's license through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Utah State.
Upon graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant and began a journey which took him and his family to six states and three continents. He flew 100 missions in Vietnam, survived being shot down and worked as both a flight instructor and a test pilot.
After telling Requa flying stories for over an hour, the two men took a ride in Requa's aircraft. While airborne he renewed acquaintances with the Southeastern Idaho landscape he grew up with.
Shortly before he left the ground with Requa, his wife Jackie shared Bowman's fascination with purple martins. He and she have a large bird hotel in their yard and Bowman watches the flying maneuvers of the Florida natives.
"Some people might say you were meant to do something," Bowman said of his return to his roots at the airport. "I was meant to fly."