John Bowen Scarff oral history interview



John Bowen Scarff oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with John Bowen Scarff and interviewer Jim Stott, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, May 6, 2017.


U.S. Navy veteran John Bowen Scarff is interviewed about his father, Wayland Labatt Scarff, and about his military service after World War II. He discusses his father’s career at the fledgling Boeing Company in the mid-1910s and his work at Boeing Plant 1, also known as the Red Barn. Scarff also provides an overview of his military service in the postwar period, including his enlistment at Sand Point Naval Air Station (Washington) and his aviation machinist training at Norman Naval Air Station (Oklahoma). Topics discussed include his personal and educational background, his training and service history, details about his father’s work at Boeing, and his father’s friendship with test pilot Eddie Hubbard.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background – Father's career at Boeing -- Interest in aviation and joining the U.S. Navy -- Return to the Pacific Northwest -- Closing thoughts




1 recording (18 min., 39 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight




Biographical Text

John Bowen Scarff is a former United States Navy serviceman and a son of Wayland Labatt Scarff, an early employee of the Boeing Company. Scarff was born on May 14, 1927 in Auburn, Washington to Wayland and Della (née Simpson) Scarff. He had two siblings, a younger brother named Cal and an older brother, Robert. Scarff’s father, a steamfitter and mechanic, worked for the fledgling Boeing Company from approximately 1915 to 1917 and was closely acquainted with Boeing test pilot Edward “Eddie” Hubbard.

Scarff graduated from Auburn High School in 1945. Eager to join the war effort and become a Navy pilot like his older brother Robert, Scarff traveled to Naval Station Puget Sound (Sand Point, Washington) in March 1945 to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He wanted to join the V-5 Aviation Cadet Training Program, but the program was canceled as World War II drew to a close. Instead, he entered the Aviation Machinist Mate School at Norman Naval Air Station (Oklahoma).

Scarff left the Navy in 1946 and attended the University of Washington under the G.I. Bill. After graduating in 1950, he enlisted in the Air Force but was ultimately disqualified due to a medical issue with his eyesight. Scarff returned to Auburn, Washington, where he helped his father and brothers operate the family Ford dealership. He later went on to open his own dealership in Kent, Washington.

Scarff and his wife, Janie, have four children: three sons and one daughter.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.