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Portrait of an Airman

Erdos in cockpit
Erdos in a cockpit closeup while flying a Ryan PT-22.

Erdos and Giorgio Clementi
Erdos (left) and Diamond Aircraft’s former chief of flight testing, Giorgio Clementi (NCR has been contracted to participate in the development and certification flight-testing of the Diamond D-Jet.)

Erdos Taxiing Vintage Wing’s WACO Taperwing. Photo by Eric Dumigan

Erdos with Vintage Wing’s Hurricane. Photo by Oliver Lacombe

If you were to describe a pilot’s dream world, it might go something like this:

  • Chief Test Pilot for the Flight Research Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada.
  • Pilot of incredible aircraft for Vintage Wings of Canada (VWC) like the Harvard, the Hurricane, the Spitfire, the Waco Taperwing, and the De Havilland Tiger Moth. (A checkout in the Beech Staggerwing is underway, with checkouts in the Corsair, the P-51 and the P-40 on the horizon.)
  • Currently serving as the Aircraft Manager for the VWC restoration of a Westland Lysander and a Fairey Swordfish; liaising with other organizations that operate the types and then conducting the post-restoration test flights when ready to go.
  • Two test flights logged in the Russell Aviation Group’s Bf 109E
  • Traveling around the world on test-flight assignments.

Well, meet Robert Erdos, the man who lives the dream!

From his early years, Rob has been immersed in things aeronautical. He completed both his Private Pilot and Commercial Licenses at Toronto Airways, Buttonville, while still in high school. He paid for this training by working at Shoppers Drug Mart during his ‘free’ time.

Rob attended Royal Roads Military College and the Royal Military College, earning his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1986, then received a posting to Moose Jaw for military flight training on Tudor jets (Moose Jaw) and Jet Ranger Helicopters (Portage la Prairie), both in 1987, whereupon he was awarded his wings.

Next came a posting to Comox, BC, where he flew ‘Search and Rescue’ Labradors. While here, Rob faced a fork in the road of his aviation career. Was it to be a multi-IFR in commercial aircraft, or a military flying track? Actually, Rob has kept a foot in both camps, with an emphasis on the military, test pilot. During his career he has been able to fly more than 120 types of aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing.

Rob went on to complete his graduate degree at the University of Tennessee, (MSc in Aviation Systems).

In 1990 he received a phone call; “How would you like to go to the United States Test Pilot Training School at Patuxent River, Maryland?” (aka Pax River. Canada usually sends one lucky pilot to TPS each year at a cost of about $1 million.) You can guess Rob’s response. At Pax River, Rob flew 34 types of helicopters and airplanes, and states that he has never worked so hard in his life, nor enjoyed anything more!

Rob was then posted to Cold Lake AB., to the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE), the Canadian Air Force’s flight test center. Here he was involved in a variety of military R & D projects, and began building an RV-4. (While his work demands never allowed him to complete this project, we take pride in his grassroots venture into the amateur-built aircraft field. - Editor)

About five years ago, Rob was flying a Harvard into Gatineau, when he saw a friend, Tim Leslie, sitting on the grass, grinning at him. Leslie asked, “How would you like to fly a Spit?” And so began Rob’s relationship with Michael Potter’s *Vintage Wings and a new avocation: Flying Vintage Wing’s priceless restorations.

We spoke briefly about Vintage Wings of Canada and its role at our Canadian Centennial Celebration theme at Oshkosh this year. Rob is a long-time member of EAA and sees the same values, the same constituency, and the same commitment in both organizations.

You can meet Bob at NRC’s booth located at the International Pavilion in Oshkosh this summer, located just east of the new air traffic control tower. Vintage Wings of Canada will also have a display of Canadian warbirds on exhibition on AeroShell Square.

*Vintage Wings of Canada is a non-profit charitable foundation with a mandate to preserve, commemorate, and educate Canadians about the important role that aviation has served to our country. – Editor

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