Marshfield - A flight re-enactment on Saturday that was supposed to celebrate Charles Lindbergh turned at one point into an emotional tribute to George D. Harlow, a Marshfield resident who was active in founding the Marshfield Municipal Airport. Harlow died Tuesday, May 26, at the age of 86. As pilots traced the part of Lindbergh’s historic flight to Paris over Taunton, Middleboro, Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanson, Pembroke, Duxbury and Marshfield, the planes formed a missing-man formation.
“When we buzzed the field at 500 feet, one plane peeled off to the right and rejoined the tail end of flight, so there would be a gap. That’s what they call the missing-man formation. The Harlow family was there, and they were really touched,” said airport commission Chairman Bud Francis. The airport field in Marshfield was named after Harlow in 2001. Before the town established the airport in 1965, the property was a farm with an airstrip.
“George was the main force behind the town acquiring the airport in the 1960s, and he served on the airport commission since it was formed in 1963, some 47 years ago,” Francis said. “He loved flying. He was a great flyer and a great man for the community and to his family. Everyone that ever met George was impressed by his intellect and dry, Yankee wit.”
Harlow was born in Boston and raised in Weymouth and Haverhill. After graduating high school in 1941, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and became a test pilot in Alaska. He later enrolled at Harvard University and received an engineering degree in 1950. He worked for Metcalfe & Eddy Engineering Co. and the New England Medical Center, and retired as an administrative engineer. Harlow not only served on the airport commission, but also was elected to the Marshfield Board of Public Works.
Ann Pollard, manager of Shoreline Aviation, which runs the town’s airport, said Harlow was a mentor for many at the airport.
“We’re so happy we named the field after him while he was still alive,” said Pollard, who worked with Harlow for 20 years. “We felt so strongly about his contributions then as we do now. It’s rare to see such incredible commitment from someone, and if it weren’t for George, we wouldn’t have one of the finest small general aviation airports in the country as we do now.”
Pollard said Harlow bought himself a plane called an Aviat Husky as a present for his 80th birthday.
“He had always wanted an Aviat Husky, which is manufactured in Afton, Wyo.