Bob Bunderson

  Jeneal McKinleyJul 10, 2018  

Bob Bunderson of Berthoud has been flying out of FNL for 30 years.

He spent 20 years in the Navy 20, 10 years on shore duty and 10 at sea. When you are at sea duty you are subject to deployment, on land you are just there. Most of his shore duty time was spent in training or training commands where they would actually do multiple engine training for pilots in Hutchinson, Kansas. In Glynco, Georgia they flew airplanes but mainly trained ground control approach operators and also RIOs or radar intercept officers.

They flew the T39 and Super Constellation, so they had various kinds and types of planes. He spent 2 – 3 years turning wrenches, the rest of the time he was in quality control. That was about 10 years of his time. Then once he got to sea duty it was his best time. He considered himself extremely fortunate that he was able to fly as a plane captain and a crew member in D5M seaplanes for 6 years. That is a soft spot in his heart. From 1957-63, it would take them 7 days to fly to the Philippines from San Diego, island hopping as they went due to the range. Even thought they had 7 internal fuel tanks, 2 drop tanks they could hang in the bomb bays, that gave them a total of 3,900 gal of fuel and they would go out for 3 or 4 or 5 flights in the plane until they could get the balance in the airplane so they could cruise without using a lot of trim tab to get the extra speed they needed. In the beginning these planes had tail turrets. Of course, when the turrets were removed what happens to the center of gravity??? They figured if they put in 412 pounds of lead in a big ammo can in the tail of the plane it would fly straight. Back then things were a lot of trial and error.

The following day after they arrived in the Philippines they began flying patrols. Their main job was ASW (anti submarine warfare). So they would calibrate their magnetic gear detection. That way when you fly over the ocean if there was a submarine under the water it would disrupt the magnetic lines of force, then the gear picks it up and the little needle would wiggle in the airplane.

Secondary objective was ship surveillance, where they would climb to altitude check out 4 or 5 targets, drop down about 200 ft and fly parallel to the ship, take pictures then record the uprights so they could identify the ship in an effort to keep track of what people were moving around the world. His job was to monitor the cockpit instruments and monitor fuel tanks. He would keep track of how much fuel needed to be dumped if they lost an engine and how long it would take to dump it.

The crews did all maintenece except the scheduled maintence on the palne which at that time was 60 hour inspections. So if you fly a plane 10 hours a day it doesn’t take long to get 60 hours. There was always a spare plane so that was not too bad. They would be out 10 hours so they would cruse at 10% lean then every 50-60 minutes they would run back to full rich, cool the engines down, and then go back to 10% lean so they could save fuel. That extended to up to about 15 hours.

They would drop buoys and smoke pattern around the sub so you could track it. Around 1959 the Nautilus submarine launched. In the time it took them to go the 30-35 miles to lay the pattern, the Nautilus was totally out of the area. which meant that the airplane immediately became obsolete.

After Bob got out of the Navy he spent some time teaching machine tool technology, then moved to Nebraska and saw an ad in Trade a Plane that said instructors were wanted in Colorado. He decided to apply.  As he was getting ready to mail it, he decided to drive to Cheyenne and hand it to them in person. He walked in, introduced himself and they talked for an hour or two and they asked him if he could start teaching in two weeks.

So he started teaching at Colorado Aerotech. Then he became the resident DME.  When he was dealing with the safety inspector out of Casper he was advised to put an application in to the FAA. So he did. Two to three months later he got a call from someone in Denver wanting to come up to talk to him. Two weeks later he was working FAA in Denver.

There are things that surface in the FAA that most people aren’t aware of. Some Examples are…

The Registration Form which must be visible in your cockpit actually belongs to the FAA. You must use a temporary three part color-coded form when selling your plane. One copy for you, one copy for the new owner to display in the plane, and one copy sent to the FAA along with the previous Registration Form. Therefore, the new owner flies his plane on just the copy of the temporary form. What if the new owner is running drugs? You haven’t contacted Oklahoma so they think the plane still belongs to you.

The Airworthiness Certificate which also must be visible in cockpit states the airplane conforms to the requirements and standards in place when the plane was manufactured.

Log Books, which can be stored away from the plane, contain a continuous maintenance record for the plane, including all STCs installed since manufacture.

STCs (Supplemental Type Certificates) show installation procedures and permissions to modify the plane. Required annual maintenance operation is very important. But if the plane is used for hire, this operation must be done every 100 hours even though the procedures are the same.

During a Ramp Check all available paperwork will be looked at and the plane looked over by an FAA employee. Just be friendly, kind, patient, and helpful. Comply to fix any discrepancies found.
Answer all FAA questions truthfully, they will find out, for example, on your Medical, don’t lie about any DUI arrests or Drug violations. The FAA has a copy of all your driver records. Be truthful, contrite answers usually are treated simply. When falsehoods are uncovered, penalties follow.

By the way, almost all FAA penalties are in the form of a license suspension for some duration of time. Bob said you would be surprised how many pilots fly without valid licenses! Usually from ranches in the West and without passengers, but not always. Those folks obviously don’t seem to be too concerned about “FAA penalties”.

Pilot is Responsible for ALL paperwork before flight…even if you are a renter! Every pilot should be sure the required paperwork is done on time and is in good order before flight. The maintenance record (i.e. the Annual and Log Book) states the plane was serviced and complies with the Federal Aviation Regulations, and is approved for return to service. The Pilot doesn’t have to understand what was done, but DOES have to see the statement by the mechanic or IA that it was done on time and all work was done by the book (the FAA regulations).

The IA — the person with “Inspection Authorization” capability in the FBO shop, is responsible for inspecting the aircraft and signing off the required maintenance paperwork before further flight.

Bob told some very interesting stories about his experiences as an FAA inspector and we asked many questions along the way. There were several instructors in the audience…they asked the best questions!