May 23, 2007Aviation Expert, Author Robert N. Buck Passes Away
By Chad Trautvetter, Editor in Chief
Aviation weather and safety consultant/author and retired TWA captain Robert N. Buck, 93, recently passed away in Berlin, Vt. He started flying at age 15 and set a New York to Los Angeles speed record before reaching his 16th birthday. By his 20th birthday, he broke an altitude record for light airplanes and became the first person to take aerial photographs of ancient ruins of the Yucatán. Buck had flown the Atlantic more than 2,000 times during his airline career with TWA. He was also a consultant to four FAA Administrators and airlines on many aspects of aviation safety, and was the author of "The Art of Flying," "Flying Know-How" and "Weather Flying." Buck continued to fly a Schleicher ASW-20 sailplane well into his 80s. Pilots revere his books because they are easy to read and engaging, even though they cover complex subjects. In "Weather Flying," Buck succinctly starts, "Weather bothers our flying in a few basic ways. It prevents us from seeing; it bounces us around to the extent that it may be difficult to keep the airplane under control and in one piece; and ice, wind, or large temperature variations may reduce the airplane's performance to a serious degree. That's what weather does…we fight weather in order to see, to keep our aircraft under control, and to get the best and safest performance from an aircraft. The question is, 'How?'"
Some sage advice from Buck:
- "When bad weather prevails fear shouldn't be the attitude -- rather it should be respect."
- "When everything inside us is scared we have to work harder to do a good precise job of flying, thinking scientifically all the time."
- "There are two ways to deal with fuel. One is to have lots of it...the second is to fly within the airplane's fuel capacity by limiting the length of flights."
- "When ice is encountered, immediately start working to get out of it."
- "A real hazard is a pilot trying to beat a thunderstorm to the airport...always remember thunderstorms on or near airports is the classic recipe for shear accidents."