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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Robert Reser

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Robert Reser

Bob was born in 1935 near Liberal, Kansas... the geographic center of the “Dust-Bowl” and raised as a western Kansas and Eastern Colorado dry-land wheat farmer. I'm going to give you the readers digest version of his career, because that's where it all started.

One summer, Bob read in the Readers Digest that the Air Force had an Aviation Cadet program. If someone could pass the test, they would send them to Flight School. It wasn't long until Bob was a Cadet in Navigation School. His career took off from there.

Bob holds ATP and typed in B727,  B757, B767, B747-400, DC-10 and B-25. He flew USAF and Air National Guard transport (C-123), observer (O-2), and jet fighter (RF-84, F-89, F-102) aircraft for 20 years and flew commercial airliners large transports for 30 years. He also holds USAF Navigator and Radar Observer ratings.

His first commercial flying job was single pilot B-25 dropping on forest fires in Alaska with only 300 hours total time. How did Bob fly the B-25 at 300 hours? It’s all about timing. He just happened by when the industry had run out of Pilots.

Bob said, "If it was affordable, anyone could initially learn to fly in a Boeing 777." Bob's career would appear a bit backwards to most. He started with 250 hours in jet flight training in the Air Force, then 50 hours C-123 with the Air Guard. His first propeller airplane had two R-2600 reciprocating engines. His first light aircraft flight was after he had 350 hours, soloing an Aeronca Champ after one turn around the pattern. He obtained his CFI rating after 4 hours in the Champ.

The first few years of his flying career Bob flew in Alaska and instructed with a military flying club. He taught "bush-type" flying where students often had as many landings on abandoned roads and river bars as on real runways. He ended up being hired by United Airlines based in Chicago, and then bought a hay farm.

Most years Bob commuted from his farm to the Air Guard and his Commercial Airline job with his own private aircraft. Upon retirement from the Air Guard, Bob continued with United until forced retirement at age 60. A few years after retirement, he joined a large Flight School as vice-president of Safety.

Upon returning to flight training, Bob became aware of the state of overall aviation flight training. He said, "It seemed the whole industry thinks training is bad. There has been lots of talk but no one has suggested how to fix it. Before we can solve a problem, we must define it."

While working at the flight school, the ongoing review of instructors, students, and examiners, led to idea that something was missing about “how to control flight” in the general knowledge of how to fly.

Bob survived a crash landing, with only minor burns and injuries, and in refection he says,

"The history of aviation is replete with specific kinds of incidents and accidents that continue in spite of discussion, teaching, and regulation. Attempting to find some reason for these things, I found there is a common contributing factor in accidents...the aircraft control leading to the accident. An accident does not occur until after touchdown…and then only if there is damage to the aircraft or a passenger is hurt." 

"Resulting studies and discussions have revealed a general basic misunderstanding of how aircraft are controlled and a lack of related proficiency in aircraft control when involved in marginal situations. There is varied understanding of thrust available in different realms of flight. A large part is missing or miss-stated information in all texts."

The past few years Bob wrote a book in an attempt to clarify some of these basic shortcomings of aircraft control, How to Fly Airplanes, Basic Flight Control. He professes the need for a different approach to basic flight training. He asks, "How do we change things and thinking? It’s not such a big job if we first define the problem."

While I have not read the book, the premise is based on what and how aircraft controls work for directing motion. His emphasis is: "Planes were built to fly; the pilot merely steers in a direction he wants to go. Don’t work at flying, trim it toward hands-off and turn it loose."

Bob believe there is there has been a long-term reduction in flight control training which has lead to flight control deficiencies, not only of today’s new trainees, but the pilot community as a whole.

"It’s human nature for a tendency to not want to consider something may be missing when one is satisfied they are proficient. The idea of pilots being a professional is lost when it becomes apparent tat few bother to assure their own proficiencies. Self-study and discussion of other’s experience and experiences is still available. Flight manual study is always possible. It is not up to the schools, operators, or regulators to cause professionalism." Bob Reser

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Author of Flight For Control and Flight For Safety,
If you haven't read's time!


  1. Thanks for sharing Bob's story.
    Quite an interesting and exciting aviation career!
    While I haven't read this book, I'm familiar with his other writings from his website.
    I don't agree with many of the theories he expresses. I think he gives far too much credit to the thrust vector as it applies to a small propeller driven airplane. Techniques like adding power instead of a little elevator to maintain altitude while in turns, I don't think is sound-theory aerodynamically and doesn't apply to all aircraft, with different rules depending on where the engines are mounted.
    Several commentors on his website have noted that he uses non-standard language (directed course, steering, space flight, etc) and his explanations are not clear. ("The rudder steers with side-pitching changing the direction of thrust.") I've been teaching flying in one aspect or another pretty much non-stop since 1978, and I agree with those assessments.
    Some seem to like his writing style though. So, I would say "approach with caution."

    1. Bill Thank you so much for the comment! It's important for new students to start our with a solid foundation and if there are confusing terms and theories that don't really apply to all aircraft.

      Bob's heart is in the right place... to help training. Maybe a private instructor could read his book and help to edit it.

      Thanks so much for the feedback!

    2. I am explaining flight control in a different manner than standard texts. It requires reading the whole book to to understand the concepts completely.
      It's all about the first five hours of initial flight training...learning control.
      I find it hard to see control being different in any airplane though different response rates related to size and power inputs may make it seem so.
      Additionally, it is important for pilots to understand manual control as described in appendix one of the revised edition I'm working on. It is a paper from the March/April FAA Safety-Brief.
      I would like to know the specific areas of disagreement about theory.
      I have had lots of responses about this and agree it could be better written. However, I would expect a CFI to figure out what is being said. The best way to convince them is to demonstrate a flight from engine start to landing roundout without touching the control wheel.

  2. Enjoyed reading Bob's story..very interesting mix of experience in flying indeed.

  3. I would like to suggest that Bob get together with a good editor who has aviation experience to help him get his point across in a more clear manner.


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