Warbirds of America Board Member Profile: Rick Siegfried

The Flying Siegfried Family: Many pilots dream of owning a high performance plane and actively flying it at 88 years of age. And others dream of passing on a love of aviation and raising children and grandchildren who solo at a young age and carry on the family tradition. These dreams and more are being lived today by Bob Siegfried of suburban Chicago, who is known in many aviation circles as “Old Bob,” because his son, Bob II, often attends the same fly-ins. “I always wanted to fly,” said Old Bob. “I can’t remember when I wasn’t interested in aviation.” Siegfried, who calls himself a “Beech man,” owned his Beech dealership and Joliet Air Charter at the Joliet, Illinois, airport from 1964 to 1972. Although he was not involved at the time, the company later evolved into J. A. Air Center of Aurora, Illinois. Siegfried and his wife, Thelma Jean, had five children, three boys and two girls. “I taught all our children how to fly using gliders,” said Siegfried, who was an FAA Pilot Examiner for glider ratings for 17 years. “Some of the basics were taught in a Piper Cub because it was easier to teach the point I wanted to make, but their first solos were always in a glider — on their 14th birthdays — and they all held Private Pilot Glider certificates before they soloed in an airplane,” he continued. Today, all three sons are active pilots and the family has quite a fleet of aircraft between them. “Old Bob” owns a turbo-normalized V35 Bonanza, a Stearman and a Piper Pacer, while Bob II has an S35 Bonanza. Rick has a North American T-6 and a J35 Bonanza and the youngest, Rand, has a Twin Beech E18S.

Rick was the only son who followed his father into the airlines and when he retired recently as a United Airlines 747 captain, several members of the family joined in on his final flight from Hawaii.