Barnes, Florence “Pancho” Lowe (1901–1975)

Florence Lowe Barnes, the self-styled “Mother of the Air Force,” was born in California on July 29, 1901. She was the second child of Thaddeus Lowe Jr. and Caroline Dobbins, a wealthy Pasadena couple. Her grandfather, Thaddeus Lowe, had been a Civil War balloonist. She attended her first air show at age 9 with her grandfather, but equestrian activities were her first love. She won her first riding trophy at age 5 when she took first prize at the inaugural Pasadena Horse Show in 1906.

A self-centered and spoiled child, Florence was a constant discipline problem in school. Her parents sent her to a convent in Alhambra, California, in hopes of instilling discipline. She ran away at age 15 by riding her horse to Tijuana, Mexico. ...

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