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2008 by Tropicbird LLC

Tropicbird LLC

Bob Tripp

Recent Presentation: Strange Planes Flown in Strange Days by a Strange Pilot

I was born in 1937, started flying when I was 16. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1959 with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering. After graduation I worked for Snow Aeronautical in Texas as their test pilot and structural engineer. You may know the company is still in business has Snow Air Tractor. Then I went to Convair as a flight test engineer on their 990 project. When that closed down, I left there for Bede Aircraft as their test pilot and performance engineer [this was in the days before Burt Rutan] flying the XBD-2. In 1963 I transferred to the FAA ACO flight test section in Los Angeles for four years where I flew a wide variety of aircraft.

For a while things seemed very exciting. I was being groomed as an SST test pilot candidate, and was the FAA liaison pilot to the B-70 project, and had a chance to fly NASA's supersonic simulator. When the B-70 crashed, and the SST program folded, I decided it was time for a professional change.

In 1967 I joined Western Airlines as a pilot, and spent 30 years with the airlines, finishing up the last nine years with Delta. During that time I kept my DER designation consulting with numerous companies on the West Coast. The most dramatic project was pre-TIA certification testing of the Mini Guppy for Aerospace Lines [I had flown the Super Guppy as an FAA pilot]. I also did the certification testing on several turbine conversion projects, since that was the inauguration of the Garret/AirResearch TPE-337 and P&W PT-6 engine installations.

In the last few years a majority of my work has been in the experimental/kit built arena, since that seems to be where many of the most interesting designs are rising. Mostly this has been determining operating limitations and flight manual data for airplanes such as Lancairs, and Glassairs. In the summer of 2006 I assisted the Eclipse Aircraft Company in the development and certification of their model 500A. In 2010 I did an initial evaluation on the Sherpa K650T, and as a DER test pilot, ran a program for MicroAerodynamics' installation of vortex generators on a Hawker Beechcraft KingAir E-90. More recent work has been on the Diamond DA-42, Ayers Thrush H80, and Airvan GA-8-TC320.

My total time is somewhere in the range of 25,000 hours, 3000+ of that is flight test. I have flown and tested over 150 types of aircraft, of note...Snow Models A,B,C, Volpar Turboliner, Lear 23, Heron, BD-10 Jet, Lockheed Jetstar, AeroSpacelines Super & Mini Guppies, B-26, C-141, DC3, Sherpa, Lancair 4P, and Legend. During my airline career, I have flown the CV-240/340/440/, L-188, Boeing 737, 707, 720, L-1011, DC-10, and MD-11.

I have written for Air &Space, Airways, Airline Pilot, Pilot Journal, Flying [June cover article], Discover Africa, American Heritage, Road & Track, Ocean Sports, Science Digest, Invention & Technology [Spring 2003 cover article], and my short story is the lead for Hawai'i's Best Spooky Stories.  My novel, Last Clear Chance, was recently published in the spring of 2008.


 Email: btripp1313@gmail.com

                                       PO Box 1896, Friday Harbor, WA 98250


PO Box 418, Kekaha, HI 96752

We live on two islands at extreme locations in the United States.  Summer is mostly spent on San Juan Island facing Victoria in Canada.  We winter in Kekaha on the extreme west end of the island of Kaua'i.  Both of these rather remote locations have a strong sense of community and cultural identity.


Updated 4/10/14