Robert Baker, Private Pilot with his cherished Cessna 182
Our world, of General Aviation, lost one of its greatest champions on April 16th, 2015 in a tragic motorcycle accident. He didn’t invent a new airplane or component. He didn’t fly into space or fly heroic missions in a war. He didn’t even work in the aviation field. In fact, unless you flew in Southern California, you probably won’t even recognize the name of this hero. Let me tell you why you should know him. Let me tell you about a low time private pilot who will inspire you with what he did, someone you will be proud of.
Robert Baker was a computer programmer with his own business, a wife, and six children who lived in Orange County, CA. He had a lifetime fascination with airplanes and flying but was never able to take flying lessons until later in life. That changed when at the age of 60, Robert inherited his father’s Cessna 182. Robert obtained the Private Pilot Certificate he had always dreamt of. Robert’s hobby quickly became a passion and he began to dedicate more and more of his time to sharing aviation with others and increasing safety education.
Robert was a very active member of EAA Chapter 92. He served as the President of that chapter for the last five years and shared his love of flying with 142 children on young Eagles flights. He was instrumental in creating and raising money for flight training scholarships given through that chapter.
Robert was also an advocate and champion for general aviation safety. He was very active and served as the Vice President of SoCal Pilots Association. SoCal Pilots is an organization dedicated to the pilot community and providing monthly educational programs. Not satisfied with having just one chapter of several hundred members, Robert helped to create two new chapters in Fullerton and Chino, CA.
As one of the most dedicated Lead Safety Representatives for the FAA Safety Team in Long Beach, CA, Robert volunteered countless hours of his time improving and creating one of the strongest volunteer safety teams in the U.S. He didn’t care who got the spotlight or applause at programs. You could always find Robert in the back welcoming people and using the computer program, he created, to scan attendee’s badges and automate WINGS credit for programs. The only time you saw him in front was when he was leading FAAST meetings. Many well know aviation speakers, including Rod Machado, are proud to call him a close friend. He was one of the first people to let me speak and was always one of my biggest inspirations to do more.
Let us all raise a toast to our aviation friend, Robert Baker. He was a shining example of how anyone can make a huge difference in general aviation. Let us hope that his life continues to inspire pilots of any age, with any certificate, to do more in promoting the beauty and safety of general aviation. You can help continue his work by donating any amount to the Robert Baker Memorial Flight Training Scholarship fund here: http://www.gofundme.com/s7uje6c