Bob Baker’s appointment as Grand Marshall of the New Carlisle Heritage of Flight’s Airplane Parade began as a conversation with Mayor Lowell McGlothin about the credit owed to those who pull the airplanes with their tractors.
“I told him those guys needed a lot of credit for putting the parade together because they’re the ones who hook up the planes, and drive them around, then take them back home—it’s a lot of work,” Baker told McGlothin, who then appointed Baker as Grand Marshall for the 2013 parade.
Baker has participated in the Heritage of Flight’s Airplane Parade since the beginning of the festival nine years ago. “I’m the oldest guy on the oldest tractor,” he said. Baker is 89 years old, and his 1935 John Deere tractor is only 11 years younger—and adding even more history to the scenario, Baker will be pulling the first airplane ever to land at the Andy Barnhart Memorial Airport in 1957. The plane, originally owned by Bill Schubert, is now owned by Bob Hunt.
Baker and his grandson Josh Stapleton will lead the airplane section of the parade—an event that Baker credits with bringing more people to downtown New Carlisle than any other event he’s seen. “I’ve been doing this parade since the beginning, and I’ve never really gotten to see it because I’m always looking at the rear-end of the guy in front of me,” he joked. Perhaps with his grandson Josh doing the driving this time, Baker will be able to take in more of the procession.
Baker was born just about two miles north of town, and was raised here all of his life. He’s been married for 61 years last month, and has three daughters, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.