• 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

  • Madison Air Scouts

    Posted on May 10th, 2009 Tom Thomas 1 comment

    At the age of 12, I joined the Madison Air Scouts sponsored by Truax Field, a US Air Force Base in Madison, Wisconsin. The base was also known as Madison Municipal Airport, today it is known as the Dane County Regional Airport.

    Madison Air Scouts, ca 1954

    It was 1954, I grew up on Madison’s east side, between the Yahara River and East High School. My home was right under the flight path for Truax’s Runway 36. All the neighborhood boys playing baseball or football would stop and watch the military jets whenever they flew overhead.

    I had three uncles that served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and they were my mentors. Every aviation magazine or book that I came by was read over and over. I spent hours studying the missiles and aircraft they covered.

    I don’t recall how I found out about the Air Scouts, but when the opportunity presented itself, I joined. I was never in the Boy Scouts so this was my first uniform and I was pretty proud of it. We would get briefings from Air Force staff and I recall seeing many movies on life in the Air Force and of course airplanes. The movies with airplanes were my favorites.

    Several months back, I was given a photo that I had completely forgotten about. It’s an official Air Force photo taken of the Madison Air Scouts in 1954. We are assembled in front of a Convair F-102, Delta Dagger. I am standing in the back row, seventh from the left, under the ‘C’ in Air Force.

    My dream of flight began early in my trip on this planet and has just continued to grow over the years. At that time, in 1954, I never thought I’d be able to fly fighter jets at my home airport, Truax Field. Providence and persistence paid off and I was able to do just that. I flew the A-37 Dragonfly and the A-10 Warthog with the Wisconsin Air National Guard throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

    My life-long involvement in aviation and flying only goes to prove – Where there is a will, there is a way. The dream of flight lives on…