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John Robert "Bob"

John Robert "Bob" Gravance passed away December 1, 2003. His interest in flying "went as far back" as he could remember. A few childhood rides with and FAA employee in the Cessna UC-78 "Bamboo Bomber" convinced Bob he should join the United States Naval Reserve as an Air Cadet. He completed primary/basic training in the SNJ "Texan", advanced training in the F6F "Hellcat" and went on to become aircraft carrier qualified. The end of the Korean war reduced the military need for pilots, so Bob took his Honorable Discharge and ended his military career with 358 hours logged.

Bob returned to college and in 1957 earned his BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While at Cal Poly he was a member of their aero club and began instructing; his logbook showed 863 hours at the time of graduation. In the summer of 1956 Bob worked for Convair in San Diego, and took his first glider flight in a TG-2 at the old Elsinore airport with the Associated Glider Club of San Diego. He went on to his first glider solo shortly thereafter.

Bob went to work as a Flight Test Engineer for Lockheed Aircraft in Palmdale, California in 1957, and started a career that would last 40+ years working on state of the art aircraft such s the F-104, U-2, YF-12A and many others.

Also in 1957, Bob joined the Antelope Valley Soaring Club, in which he would remain a member the rest of his life. His decades of service as an officer, board member and tireless oversight of maintenance activities were recognized by the AVSC with a newly created position, Honorary Lifetime Member.

Bob constructed a Prue Standard sailplane in his garage and made the first flight in 1962. In 1973 he became co-owner of a BG-12BD, and in 1976 he bought Wally Scottús AS-W12. Bob flew his sailplanes in competition every chance he got.

Bob entered the 1979 1-26 National contest at his home field of El Mirage, flying the sailplane owned by the Antelope Valley Soaring club, and won the contest. In 1985 he completed the rebuild of 1-26 serial number 100 "C-Note." He competed in 13 of the next 14 annual 1-26 Nationals, winning once more, finishing second five times, third once and fourth twice.

Bob will be missed by his four children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Posted: 2/1/2004

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