Bowlus/Nelson BB-1 “Dragonfly”

William Hawley Bowlus

William Hawley Bowlus (May 8, 1896 – August 27, 1967) was a designer, engineer and builder of aircraft (especially gliders) and recreation vehicles in the 1930’s and the 40’s. Today he is most widely known for his key role in the design of Airstream travel trailers, which followed his prior famed work as the Superintendent of Construction on Charles Lindberg’s aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.

Bowlus was an expert at soaring flight and building gliders, established numerous records, trained many of America’s earliest glider pilots, and gave gliding lessons to both Charles and Anne Lindberg. In 1930 he and Lindberg glided at various locations in California. Most notably Point Loma in San Diego where Bowlus conducted many of his flights and tests.

Charles Lindberg established a regional distance record for gliders by flying in a Bowlus sailplane from Mount Soledad in La Jolla to Del Mar, making use of the lift at Torrey Pines Gliderport. Anne Morrow Lindberg also flew in a Bowlus sailplane from Mount Soledad and became the first woman in the United States to receive her “first class” glider license (Maxine Dunlap had preceded her in becoming the first woman in the United States to receive a glider license of any kind a “third class” glider license). Bowlus was also the first American to break Orville Wright’s 1911 soaring duration record in an American designed and built sailplane.

Bowlus was inducted into the Soaring Hall of Fame in 1954. Source: Wikipedia