At the early age of 14 Bob know he wanted to be an aerobatic pilot. The road there took him to the Air Force, graduating as a Distinguished Graduate (one of only five from a class of 1500), flight instructing, Pilot Examiner, a career as a captain for United Airlines brought him to the Chicago area. He joined the Air National Guard at Chicago O'Hare in 1960 and served until 1965. He was an Instructor Pilot and Pilot Examiner on the KC-97.
During the Vietnam War, United Airlines was under contract to the US Government to fly men, munitions and supplies to the war zone. Bob participated as a pilot in the program from 1966-1969. Starting in 1985 United Airlines began an Initial Operating Experience (IOE) program which took a pilot new to that particular aircraft and had him fly with a check airman (flying passengers) until he was experienced enough to be pilot in command on that type. Bob was designated Check Airman for the Boing 727, DC-10, and Boeing 747. He served as Check Airman from the programs inception in 1985 until his retirement from United in 1993.
1970 was an exciting year as the International Aerobatic Club was formed. Bob (IAC member #103) was one of the founding member's of IAC and Chapter 1, organized at Bob Heuer's house in Maple Park, IL. IAC has grown to be the premier amateur aerobatic club in America. Most of America's greatest aerobatic pilot's have come up through the IAC contests to the US aerobatic team and careers in Air Shows.
Bob's first aerobatic airplane was a clip wing Cub purchased in 1968. There was no one around to teach him, so he got a book written by Duane Cole, studied the maneuvers and took to the skies to teach himself how to fly aerobatics. In 1970 he bought a Pitts S1S, the first symmetrical wing Pitts built by Curtis Pitts and began flying in IAC competitions.
When he entered his first IAC contest in the advanced category he won. He competed in many IAC contests during the 70's and 80's, winning the Illinois Aerobatic Championship one year. He went on to represent the United States on the U.S. Aerobatic team in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1984, 1985 & 1988, competing in the World Aerobatic Contests in 1976, 1984 and 1988.
He launched his professional career as an air show pilot in 1971. With over 40 years of flying shows he has been a crowd pleaser from the small country grass strip to the grand stage of Airventure. Since the EAA convention moved from Rockford Illinois to Oshkosh Wisconsin, Bob has flown the show almost every year.
Bob has built, refurbished and maintained many aircraft over the years. In the process he has mentored many young people and influenced their careers in aviation. Howie Stock of Woodstock, IL, worked with Bob on several projects. Through Bob's influence and support, Howie has become a Captain with US Air. Dan Frey came to live with Bob and his family as a troubled teenage in 1985. After he graduated from high school, he announced he wanted to follow Bob's footsteps and join the Air Force. and has served his country with distinction and in February 2011 was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant, the highest rank attainable for an enlisted man. Dan is currently serving a 6 month deployment to Afghanistan.
He completed construction of a Laser in 1983, working closely with Leo Loudenslager on the technical nuances of building the airplane to the standards necessary for flying aerobatics at the competition level. The Laser was sold in 1992 to a competition pilot in South Africa, who won the South African Championship in it. It is currently owned and flown in Australia.
Along the way he has served on the Board of Directors of ICAS, Chairman of the Safety Committee for ICAS, served on the Board of Directors of ICAS, Chairman of the Safety Committee for ICAS, served on the Board of Directors of IAC for over 20 years, Safety and Technical Consultant for IAC, the U.S.A. delegate to C.I.V.A. He was honored with the Special Achievement Award by ICAS in 1996. Bob has been an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) since the program inception.
When the opportunity to own the Sukhoi Su-29 arrived in 1994, Bob took his flying another level. While flying a night show, one of the pyro canisters ignited in the wing, scorching the wing. This prompted him to design a lighting system to illuminate the smoke stream behind the airplane, simulating the glow of an afterburner. This technique is used by a number of performers flying night shows today. Always looking to improve, Bob added l.e.d. lights to the fuselage and wing tips for night shows. At the first night show he performed that year, the crown could not stop talking about the "amazing" light display on the aircraft. He was chosen to fly the first night airshow at Airventure, 2010.
When Norm Wingler approached Bob and invited him to become part of the DC-3 program at the Prairie Aviation Museum (PAM), he couldn't say no. The collaboration gave Bob the opportunity to work with the other great volunteers at the museum to bring the history of the DC-3 to countless people through touring airshow venues and having the airplane available for tours at the museum in Bloomington, IL. It also gave him the chance to teach. He, along with Jim Rosater, trained many pilots to fly a DC-3, including the great volunteer pilot group at PAM. Bob gave a young man, Thad Kelly, a ride in the Sukhoi when Thad was 17. Thad later went on to a career as a pilot for Fed Ex and became one of the PAM pilots.
In 2002 Bob was honored with induction to the EAA Aerobatic Hall of Fame.
Throughout his long career in aviation, he has always tried to broaden his horizons. He is also an A&P with IA authorization, Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), a member of the National Designated Pilot Examiner Registry (NDPER), and as pilot for the EAA B-17 charged with flight training and check pilot for the rest of the B-17 pilots.