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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Barr, Julius A., 1905-1939



  • Existence: 1905-1939

Biographical Note: Julius A. Barr

Julius A. Barr had a varied flight career in the 1920s and 1930s, notably spending time as a personal pilot to Chinese military figures and later working as a Boeing test pilot.

Julius Augustus Barr was born on December 6, 1905 to Oren and Margaret Barr in Normal, Illinois. Barr had a varied flight career. He served in the Army Air Corps, completing cadet training at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas from 1926-1927. During the late 1920s he was a transcontinental air mail pilot and spent several years flying for United Airlines. Barr then spent time in China, demonstrating military aircraft to the Chinese government. He also performed, either by choice or detainment (reports vary), as the personal pilot for Zhang Xueliang, known as the "Young Marshal", who ruled much of northern and northeast China from the late 1920s-1930s and was one of the instigators of the 1936 Xi'an Incident (the kidnapping and imprisonment of Chiang Kai-Shek to force him to unite with Communists against the Japanese invasion). Barr was released from Zhang's service and immediately joined Chiang Kai-shek, becoming one of five personal pilots for General Chiang and his wife, Madame Chiang. Notably, Barr flew the couple to safety just five days prior to the sack of Nanjing (China) by Japanese forces in December 1937.

Barr returned to the U.S. in 1938, departing from Hong Kong aboard the S.S. Empress of Russia and arriving at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on November 14. Shortly thereafter he joined Boeing Aircraft Company as an engineer and test pilot. On March 18, 1939, Julius Barr died during flight test number 19 of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner when the plane suffered engine failure and crashed near Alder, Washington, killing all onboard.

Barr married Effie Hortense on July 1, 1928, and they had two children, Jo Ann and Gene Edward (born 1933). Barr is buried in Mount Olive Cemetery, Pittsburg, Kansas.


Biography derived from collection materials and records on and

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

The Julius A. Barr Photograph Album

Identifier: 2018-00-00-6
Abstract Julius A. Barr (1905-1939) was born in Normal, Illinois and spent time as a personal pilot to Chinese military figures Zhang Xueliang (also known as the "Young Marshal" and "Peter Chang") and General Chiang Kai-shek in the mid-1930s. The collection contains a photograph album with three hundred and thirty-nine (339) black-and-white photographs, most likely taken by Barr, covering his time in China.

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