William R. “Bob” Downing
CFI, CFII, MEL, ATP
BPT: Bob, what was it that first attracted you to aviation – and why?
BD: In my senior year in high school, I worked part time at a men’s tailor shop. A gentleman came in wanted a custom-made suit. He owned small flight school. I traded him a suit for flight lessons.
That did it: I was hooked. No fast cars for me, I wanted to be in airplanes!
BPT: What a great story! When and where did you learn how to fly?
BD: I got drafted into the Army. When I got out was able using my VA benefits to complete my training and get my license. From there I continued to get additional ratings, IFR, commercial, CFI, etc.
In 1983 I got the opportunity to work in England. I flew all over Europe, and it was a great experience. In 1995, I started my aviation company.
BPT: What aircraft have you flown?
BD: Like most instructors, I have flown all the small single engine Cessnas and Pipers.
The very first aircraft I owned was a 1960 V35 Bonanza – and I flew that for many years. What a great aircraft it was!
When I got my MEI rating, I bought a Cessna 310, and spent 5 years doing practically nothing but multi-engine training. But my love for Beechcraft had me sell my 310 and buy a BE55 Baron.
I teach in all the Beech singles and twins as well as all the twin Cessnas 300 and 400 series aircraft. Corporately, I currently fly a C441 turboprop and have SIC privileges in Cessna 500 and DA10 turbines.
But I must say, the aircraft I enjoy flying the most is a 1993 BE58 that has over 10,000 hours on the airframe.
BPT: What are the highlights of your flying career?
BD: Quite frankly, the thing I enjoy most is instructing. I enjoy working with other pilots; enhancing their skills; and helping them get additional ratings, etc. Actually, I like that much more than my corporate flying.
BPT: Tell us how you became involved with BPT.
BD: I got involved with BPT as I was Jack Hirsh’s (one of the founders of the organization) chief pilot for the Sugarland Flying club. I went to my first clinic to see what it was about and saw the passion from both the instructors and clients. I was excited to be a part of that.
BPT: It sounds as though BPT is important to you. Why is that?
BD: Because I think BPT is the premier flying organization. The knowledge and experience of the instructor cadre is amazing. It is impossible not to learn something valuable when you attend one of the clinics.