Robert Nietzel Buck (1917-2007) in 2003

Robert Nietzel Buck (1917-2007) in 1930

Robert Nietzel Buck (1917-2007) in 1930

Robert Nietzel Buck (1917-2007) and Frank Hawks in Trenton, New Jersey in 1930

Robert Nietzel Buck (1917-2007) in 1974

Robert Nietzel Buck (1914-2007) in 1930 broke the junior transcontinental air speed record and was the youngest pilot ever licensed in the US (b. January 29, 1914; Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA - d. April 14, 2007; Vermont, USA)

Career[edit | edit source]

In 1930 at age 16 he took lessons in a Fleet aircraft using a Kinner engine. He received the Department of Commerce license #13478.

On October 4, 1930 Robert beat the junior transcontinental airspeed record of Eddie August Schneider in his PA-6 Pitcairn Mailwing he named "Yankee Clipper". His time was 23 hours, and 47 minutes of elapsed flying time. The junior record only counts time in the air and excludes time spent on the ground. Robert said on February 06, 2005: "I was the youngest to fly coast to coast and that record still stands. I had my license at 16 and after that, they raised the minimum age to 17. With that change no one could break my record."[1]

In 1937 he began flying for TWA, became chief pilot in 1945 and flew until his retirement at age 60 in 1974. He took delivery of TWA's first Lockheed Constellation aircraft in 1945, and in 1970 flew TWA's first 747 revenue flight: flight 800 from New York City to Paris. In 1965 he flew around the world from pole to pole in a Boeing 707 along with several other pilots in shifts.

United States Air Force used Robert to study severe weather, and he was chosen to pilot the B-17G "Two Kind Words". The ship was hardened for flying through severe weather. He also flew a modified P-61 Black Widow. President Truman awarded him a civilian Air Medal.

Death[edit | edit source]

He died on April 14, 2007.

Memories about Robert Buck[edit | edit source]

  • Walter Gunn wrote: "Captain Robert N. Buck's accomplishments are legendary ... Certainly, I’ll treasure forever my initial contact with Bob Buck. It came when I received a congratulatory phone call from him soon after I was upgraded to captain. "Never doubted you’d make it," he snapped. "All the best. Welcome aboard!" His personable warmth was often buttressed with a wry sense of humor. That he would take the time, as a Chief Pilot of an airline in the midst of rapid expansion, to pad the ego of a junior pilot revealed much about the man."

External link[edit | edit source]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1914 Birth in Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • 1930 (circa) Move to Westfield, New Jersey
  • 1930 Pilots license
  • 1930 Junior Transcontinental air speed record
  • 1931 Flight to Havana
  • 1932 Flight to Mexico City
  • 1937 Begins at TWA co-piloting DC-2s and DC-3s
  • 1939 Howard Hughes buys TWA
  • 1945 Chief pilot at TWA
  • 1945 Lockheed Constellation introduced at TWA
  • 1965 Pole to pole around the world flight in Flying Tigers B-707-320G
  • 1970 First 747 commercial flight for TWA
  • 1970 Writes Weather Flying
  • 1973 Time magazine reports: "Jumbo Jet Pilot Robert Buck maintains that soaring is no more hazardous than flying in a commercial airliner"
  • 1974 Retires from TWA on January 28
  • 1974 Living in Vermont
  • 1975 Writes Flying Know-How
  • 1992 Writes Art of Flying
  • 2000 (circa) The Active Retired Pilots of TWA (TARPA) Award of Merit
  • 2000 Writes Pilot's Burden: Flight Safety and the Roots of Pilot Error
  • 2002 Appears on NPR Morning Edition on April 15
  • 2007 Death in Vermont on April 14 at the age of 93

Books authored[edit | edit source]

Junior transcontinental air speed record[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Telephone interview with Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) on February 06, 2005

Images[edit | edit source]

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