• Bob Skuldt has Gone West

    Posted on December 21st, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    The fabric of aviation is interwoven with threads of aviators of all types. A common part of each of those threads, each of those aviators, is passion. That fabric lost a thread on Monday, December 19, 2011. Bob Skuldt, a very passionate aviator, has gone west.

    Douglas C-47, Wisconsin Air National Guard

    Douglas C-47, Wisconsin Air National Guard

    Bob’s passion for aviation was evident that day in 1928 when he skipped school and rode his bike to the Royal Airport on Madison’s south side. Everyone’s aviation hero, Charles Lindbergh, was scheduled to land there. Bob wanted, you might say Bob needed, to be there, to witness Lindbergh’s arrival. Afterward Bob said, “I told myself that is what I want to do.”

    Bob began his flight training after graduating from Madison’s Central High School. He had a partner join him shortly after beginning his training, a partner that would never leave his side. His wife Letty, then his girlfriend, loaned Bob the money he needed to buy his first airplane. The story goes that he never repaid her.

    After earning his flight instructor rating in July 1942, Skuldt taught glider students for the US Army in Janesville and basic flight training to potential US Navy pilots in Middleton. Bob was granted a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, US Army Air Corps, on November 18, 1943. He would spend the next 10 months ferrying aircraft to the European Theater. On September 22, 1944, Bob delivered a C-87 (cargo version of the B-24) to the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. He remained in the CBI, flying 72 missions over the “Hump”.

    Bob Skuldt, Airport Director KMSN

    Bob Skuldt, Airport Director, Dane County Regional Airport

    Returning home to Madison he was one of the original officers of the post-war Wisconsin Air National Guard. He was hired, from a field of 26 candidates, as manager of the Madison, Wisconsin airport. Bob would hold that position for more than 34 years. Skuldt reportedly gave his operations crew time off for deer hunting one year. A Thanksgiving Day snowstorm found Bob and Letty driving plows to clear the airport’s runways.

    According to Dane County Administrator Clayton Dunn, “Bob was an excellent manager who worked well with his employees.” Dunn went on to say, “He was the consummate gentleman, not only professionally but also as a friend. He left a perfect legacy for this community.”

    Bob logged 7,300 hours flying 50 different types of aircraft during his flying career. He retired as a colonel from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1971. Bob served as airport director for the Madison/Dane County Regional Airport for nearly 35 years, retiring in 1981. He was a founding member of the Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA). He was the organization’s president in 1972. Skuldt was also a founding member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

    Skuldt served even in retirement. He served on the Dane County Board of Supervisors for eight years, served as Chairman of the Dane County Regional Airport Commission, and was a consultant to Republic Airlines. Bob received many awards and recognitions over the years. Letty was at Bob’s side when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. Pete Drahn, WAMA Executive Director, said, “Bob… hired me in 1975 starting off my airport career. He was a military and private pilot, WWII combat veteran, husband, father, and good friend. As a member of the greatest generation, Bob will be sorely missed.”

    Bob is survived by his wife Letty and their son Gregory.

    FMI – http://host.madison.com/news/local/obituaries/skuldt-robert-b/article_ad7eb34e-2cb3-11e1-b796-0019bb2963f4.html