Robert N. Buck

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Robert Nietzel Buck
RobertBuck 01.jpg
Buck in 2003
Born(1914-01-29)January 29, 1914
DiedApril 14, 2007(2007-04-14) (aged 93)
Parent(s)Abijah Orange Buck (1869–1932)
Emily Nietzel

Robert Nietzel Buck (January 29, 1914 – April 14, 2007) broke the junior transcontinental air speed record in 1930 and for a time was the youngest licensed pilot in the United States.[1]


He was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on January 29, 1914 to Abijah Orange Buck (1869–1932) and Emily Nietzel. Emily was Abija's second wife, and she was the daughter of Elizabeth Bellingrath.[2][3][4]

In 1930 at age 16 he took lessons in a Fleet Aircraft using a Kinner engine. He received the United States Department of Commerce license #13478.

On October 4, 1930 he beat the junior transcontinental airspeed record of Eddie August Schneider in his PA-6 Pitcairn Mailwing he named "Yankee Clipper". His time was 23 hours and 47 minutes of elapsed flying time. The junior record only counts time in the air and excludes time spent on the ground.[5][6][7][8] Robert said on February 6, 2005: "I was the youngest to fly coast to coast and that record still stands. I had my license at 16 and after that, they raised the minimum age to 17. With that change no one could break my record."

In 1937 he began flying for TWA. He became a Captain in 1940 and he became chief pilot in 1945.[2][4][9] He married Jean Pearsall in 1938.[4]

In 1965 he flew around the world from pole to pole in a Boeing 707. This was done with several other pilots in shifts.[9] In 1970 he flew TWA's first Boeing 747 on Flight 800 from New York City to Paris,[9] and in the same year wrote Weather Flying. He retired from TWA at age 60 on January 28, 1974[1][9] and moved to Vermont, where he wrote Flying Know-How, Art of Flying, and Pilot's Burden.

He died on April 14, 2007 in Berlin, Vermont.[1]


He was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey in 1981.


  • Flying Know-How. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press/E. Friede. 1975. ISBN 0-440-04934-2.
  • The Art of Flying. New York: Macmillan. 1984. ISBN 0-02-518220-X.
  • The Pilot's Burden: Flight Safety and the Roots of Pilot Error. Ames: Iowa State University. 1994. ISBN 0-8138-2357-9.
  • Weather Flying. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1998. ISBN 0-07-008761-X.
  • North Star Over my Shoulder: A Flying Life. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2002. ISBN 0-7432-1964-3.


  1. ^ a b c Margalit Fox (May 20, 2007). "Robert N. Buck Dies at 93. Was Record-Setting Aviator". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Robert N. Buck, a distinguished pilot who in the 1930s crossed the continent at record speed, flew a light plane higher than anyone had done before and photographed ancient ruins of the Yucatán from the air for the first time — all by the age of 20 — died on April 14 in Berlin, Vermont. ...
  2. ^ a b Robert Buck (2002). North Star Over my Shoulder: A Flying Life. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-1964-3.
  3. ^ "Dr. Abijah O. Buck, Surgeon, Is Dead". New York Times. Was Long Chief Practitioner of Singer Manufacturing Company in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Served As Major In War. Army Training Camp Where He Was Medical Officer Had Lowest Grip Death Rate. Aviation Enthusiast.
  4. ^ a b c "Robert N. Buck". Times Argus. April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. North Fayston resident Bob Buck, an aviator who set flying records in the 1930s, made an airline career with TWA to include the position of chief pilot, conducted severe weather research, flew with Hollywood stars, worked for Howard Hughes, was an advocate for aviation safety and industry consultant as well as a noted author, passed away April 14, 2007, at age 93. He died of complications from a broken hip. Bob was born in Elizabeth Port, N.J., January 29, 1914. ...
  5. ^ "Boy flyer set to try at transcontinental record". Decatur Daily Review. September 27, 1930.
  6. ^ Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois; September 29, 1930; Boy aviator in quest of record.
  7. ^ Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois; October 1, 1930; Boy flier hops off second time
  8. ^ "Boy Flier Plans Return Air Trip". Decatur Daily Review. October 5, 1930.
  9. ^ a b c d "Weather pioneer Robert N. Buck dies at 93". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 2011-12-13.

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