In the summer of 2007, I got a call from a potential student who was visiting with his dad, all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska. He had just driven 4000 miles to Houston in a Honda Accord so that his 90 year old father who was suffering from skin cancer could get treatment at MD Anderson cancer center. His secondary purpose was to learn how to fly a powered paraglider. He was 58 years old at that time and had just recently retired from work with the city of Fairbanks. He told me he intended to spend his retirement in the air admiring his beloved Alaska.
Bob Weaver was a soft spoken, polite man. He had a fun sense of humor and was game for the challenge of learning to launch a 70 lb paramotor in the hundred degree Texas heat. There were times when he struggled, but he never complained or thought about giving up. Nor did his ailing dad who always accompanied us to our training sites. Before he drove back to Fairbanks we managed to get in a half dozen flights, but honestly, I hardly considered him thoroughly trained, and I thought to myself, 'I will probably be hearing from him next year asking me to help him sell his equipment'. Well, it wasn't till 2 years later that I received a call from Alaska Bob. He said "Hey this is Bob from Alaska. I need to replace my equipment." I thought to myself 'ahoh! He crashed and broke everything!'. I quickly inquired if he was alright. "Oh yeah, I am great! But I wore out my equipment." "No way!", I replied. "How many hours do you have on your motor and glider?" "Over 1200 hours." "What?" I exclaimed. "How can you get that much good air time flying in frozen Fairbanks? I bet you go out and fly for hours during the summer when the sun doesn't set till after midnight." "Sometimes," he said with a chuckle, "but I like flying in the winter!" I was dumbstruck! "You are kidding? You fly in the winter in Alaska?" "Oh yeah, that's the best time because I can launch from frozen lake and river beds. And the air is really dense, so my take offs are quick and easy." "But Bob" I asked, "how cold is it when you fly?" "The coldest I have ever flown is 15 degrees below. I have to wear snowmobile clothing, and even then I only fly 20 minutes or I get frostbite."
It was about this time when I realized this was no ordinary man! lol I said, "Bob, you probably get more air time in your paramotor than anyone I know. You are a flying maniac!" Bob ended up purchasing a new Black Devil and Eden 4 from me and then spent the next two years accruing another thousand plus hours flying in the arctic air. But get this! He called me in 2011 to buy another set of new equipment. This guy was definitely a flight junkie!
I often thought it would be fun to spend some time in AK with Bob and make a short documentary about this amazing individual. I was going to call it THE LEGEND OF ALASKA BOB. He invited me to come up for a visit any time but I never took him up on the invitation. Too bad! Last week I received word from his beloved wife, Roberta,that Bob had passed away. He had built a cabin in the wilderness years ago and loved to spend the summers there. No details were provided, only that he was the victim of a bear attack. I think it is safe to assume that the bear may be licking his wounds after battling Alaska Bob.
RIP good buddy! I hope where ever you are that you are getting some great air!