Duncan Aviation Stalwart, Noted Aviator Harry Barr Dies

 - July 14, 2020, 12:37 PM

Long-time aviator and Duncan Aviation partner Harry Barr died on July 1 at his home in Raymond, Nebraska. Barr was born in 1935 in Clarinda, Iowa, sharing both a hometown and passion for flying with Duncan Aviation founder Donald Duncan, Duncan Aviation said.

Once Duncan purchased a Beechcraft distributorship in 1956, Duncan and Barr partnered on various business endeavors, the company added. Barr also remained a pilot for Duncan Aviation from shortly after the company was founded until he died and maintained an office at the company’s Lincoln, Nebraska facility.

Barr became a private pilot at the age of 17 and flew a gamut of aircraft from aerobatics and experimentals to helicopters and jets. He joined Clay Lacy in obtaining a type rating on the Learjet 23 in 1964 and Duncan Aviation became one of six U.S. distributors of the then-new jet. He met Lacy during the first Learjet distributor meeting in Wichita and the two became lifelong friends.

“Harry Barr was a great aviator and extremely knowledgeable about aviation and airplanes. A one of a kind, if it flew, Harry could fly it,” Lacy said.

In addition to their collaborations at Duncan Aviation, Donald Duncan and Barr jointly launched Panhandle Aviation, a helicopter service company to support Boeing during the construction of the Atlas Missile site, and an FBO at Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“He was, and is, a legend,” Duncan Aviation chairman emeritus J. Robert Duncan said of Barr. “I first knew him as almost a big brother. He lived with our family for a while, taught me how to fly, and gave me my first flying job.”

“Harry was my godfather, and he was a fellow pilot who absolutely loved to fly, and he was my friend,” added Duncan Aviation chairman Todd Duncan. “He was a friend and mentor to people at Duncan Aviation for more than 60 years as well as throughout the aviation community…I had the greatest respect and admiration for this man who lived his life so well and so fully. He will be terribly missed by all of those who knew and loved him.”

Barr drew praise for his concern of others. “Many people have furthered their careers in aviation because of Harry Barr’s mentoring and encouragement. Because he had the means, he helped anyone who showed an interest in a career in aviation or a career flying,” longtime friend and Duncan Aviation senior captain Larry Bartlett said.

He was an active member of numerous groups, including the Midwest Aerobatic Club, the IAC International Aerobatic Club, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Warbirds of America.