The Transformation of Bob

George Gennuso

Originally published July 1998

This Month's Meeting:

What's Up At "Scaled"
Speaker: Bob "Waldo" Waldmiller
Tuesday, 21 July 1998
1700 hrs (5:00 PM Civilian Time)
USAF Test Pilot School Auditorium
Edwards AFB, CA

O.K., this time we have someone special...Do you all remember Bob Waldmiller? One of the founding members of EAA Chapter 1000, past President, Vice President, ranking (his excellency) Project Policeman, inventor of the Project Police Dust Depth Detection Indicator (P23DI), Excalibur builder, and so many other accomplishments that Russ won't let me list them cause we don't have enough budget to pay for the extra stampage...Well, I remember Bob. The last time I saw Bob...He was...It was kind of...I thought that Bob had...Oh %#!!@**, I'll just tell you about the last time I saw Bob Waldmiller. It was at the 1997 Fox Field Air Races. I was there to help park arriving aircraft and Bob was in charge.

It was early in the morning when I arrived and as I was walking into the pit area I ran into Russ Erb. Russ, I'm here to help Bob Waldmiller , have you seen him? A strange look came over Russ's face as he said, "Bob?" Then pointing to the east taxiway, he said, "Bob, if you can call him that, is out there, just this side of the runway. "Thanks," I said and started walking, thinking to myself, what the heck was that supposed to mean...So, I'm walking out there and as I approach Bob something just didn't look right. His back was to me during the long trek, but as I got within 30 feet he seemed to know I was there. He slowly turned to face me...GGEEeezzzeeee, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, BOB?

He looked half human and half machine, more machine if you ask me. Let me tell you what I saw. He had all this equipment attached to his body. I couldn't tell if it was grafted onto his head or attached mechanically, but I personally counted 17 wing nuts and at least 2 rolls of electrical tape. There were antennas sticking up out of his head, wires and tubes coming out here and going back in there. His eyes were covered with shiny metal shielding devices. There were several layers of listening devices over his ears and some kind of radiation shield covering his head. He had several electronic devices attached to his waist, hip, shoulders and arms, and a big tank on his back. The tank must have been some kind of feeding device because he kept sucking on a tube that ran directly to it. When he walked he made these menacing flatulent sounds causing people to keep their distance. Bob? Bob, is that you?

His reply startled me. "Bob is gone, I am of the collective. I am 7 of 11, Haaa, Cha, cha, chaaa...You are here to assist the BORG, You will...," then he abruptly stopped talking, his eyes were fixed, the collective was communicating with him. Then his arm shot up and he began speaking into a small rectangular device on his wrist..."Experimental niner seven seven whisky tango, turn right off the taxiway, proceed straight ahead follow the Cessna...." Then he continued with my orders, " the arriving air vehicles per my instructions relayed from the collective." Then he continued communicating with the BORG collective as if I weren't even there, issuing orders, moving flawlessly about the arriving aircraft. I was just starting to get used to the new Bob when he turned, pointed his finger at me, paused as he listened and then said, "George, go directly to the registration booth, do not pass GO...." Who was I to argue, although I could have use the extra $200 dollars. On my way I ran into Gretchen, and couldn't believe my eyes. She too was festooned with wires, tubes, devices of every description, antenna, reflectors and so on.

"Gretchen, what's going on?" She replied that Gretchen was gone, she was 2 of 11..." and so on. You get the picture. I asked where Norm was and she pointed at the tower and said, "Norm is the collective, he is 1 of 11 and we all follow his instructions..."

The Air Races went off flawlessly, and everyone was impressed with the smooth transitions from event to event. Aircraft were landed, taxied and parked in record time, and the same was true of the departures. I guess the BORG really know how to organize an event. I never saw 1, 2 or 7 of 11 the rest of that day, but I've been wondering since that time if they were ever freed from the collective. But here is the best part of the deal, as President Gary and I sat under the wing of his 180 watching the sun set he turned to me and said...Wait, that's another story and I've gone on way too long as it is. Russ is going to kill me....

These past events happened many months ago and I haven't seen Bob in all that time. Recently I did reach him by phone and asked him to speak at our next meeting. He is working for Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites now and has agreed to share some of what he is working on with us. So, be prepared for an entertaining and information filled presentation from Past President, Bob Waldmiller.

I wonder if he is still communicating with the collective....

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Revised -- 15 March 1999