A PILOT EARNS HIS ETERNAL WINGS
The Robert McIntosh Obituary
(excerpted from Kai Teraji’s column, The Dispatch, and submitted by Jim McIntosh)
A pilot got his wings today - and not just any old ordinary wings, either. Robert McIntosh was born in Bozeman, MT, On Nov. 13, 1912, the son of an R.N. and a well-educated Canadian Scotsman. After high school Robert decided to take the advice of the famous saying, "Go west, young man".
Aided by a talented thumb, Robert hitchhiked 2,000 miles to a job on a sawmill's loading docks in Oregon during the Depression, where he made 3 dollars a day and the day lasted 10 hours. I'll let you do the math! One year and 50,000 pounds of wood later, he went off to seek adventure in riding the rails by refrigerator car rooftop, enjoying the fresh air all the way.
Then came Pearl Harbor and patriotic instincts began to stir in the hearts of the century's greatest generation. Robert began pilot training in St. Paul, MN, to fly the Piper Cub, a small plane that was power-boosted by rubber bands for take-off. He so excelled that he became a flight instructor almost overnight. Flying PT-19s in Uvalde, Texas. His sweetheart, Ruth Sharp, joined him in Texas and they were married.
Robert was commissioned a Flight Officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps, attached to the Air Transport Command. He flew B-25 bombers to various training bases and earned $260 a month, outfitted in stylish uniform of the forest green jacket and pink pants. From there he learned to fly the C-46 for the North African Transport Command, a huge transport plane with twin 2,000-horsepower engines, to places like Brazil, Liberia, Cairo, Marrakech, Morocco, and Casablanca.
Flying was his passion, whether evacuating troops from the CBI theater (China, Burma, India), delivering supplies to Japan, flying cattle to Chile to improve the herds, flying monkeys from India for the Salk vaccine, or buzzing fields to drive off herds of camels to deliver supplies to drilling crews in Saudi Arabia - he loved it all.
He stayed home long enough for the birth of his only son, Jim, in 1947, and then he was off to fly charter tours all across the U.S. and Europe. He joked that he dropped off gamblers on the way west and picked up losers on the way back.
As captain of a Constellation, he flew marchers from Chicago to the south for Martin Luther King's march on Selma.
Robert's adventures in the sky totaled 25,000 hours of flight time, a record rarely held by military or even airline pilots: "When I was a lad, I never dreamed that I would leave Cavalier and fly the world in a DC-8 jet airplane."
On the night he died, Robert called the nurse and requested a different bed. "I need to change beds," he kept insisting, so finally to placate him, she got him up and walked him around to the other side of the bed. He sat down on the "different" bed, and then he died. It was as if he knew it was time for take-off and he was anxious to get going on his final trip.