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Low Level Aerobatics - 1986 Video Of The Late Great Bob Herendeen

(video includes a Lomcevak & Inverted Flat Spin.  Also, cool low passes start at 4:00) 

 I’m finally getting around to converting several old VHS tapes into digital video so I can share some cool things from back in the day.  This video of Bob Herendeen is the first one that I've run thru a new method of conversion (my Concorde ride at Oshkosh 88 was the first I converted, but I did it a totally different way).

 Bob Herendeen (1926-1994) was one of the nicest people I ever knew.  He was kind and considerate… a true gentleman.  But put him in a Pitts Special and he could really tear up the sky!  In fact, Bob had been one of the people that really made the Pitts Special so popular.  He had the first one used in aerobatic competition to have 4 ailerons back in the early 60’s, and went on to be the U.S. National Aerobatic Champion in 1966 and 1969.  That’s a pretty big deal.

 Bob’s style of aerobatics was somehow a little more pleasing than most others.  He knew how to push the airplane hard, but it was always something beautiful to watch… not like he was trying to conquer the airplane, but rather like the two were working together to make something truly captivating.  This was all matched by his kind and gentle way as a person. 

 I was fortunate to get to know him in the 80’s at the Mentone Airport in Indiana.  My dad owned that little country airport and I had skipped out on my college career, that was supposed to start in the fall of 79, to become essentially an airport bum.  Life was good.  Real good : )

 Bob was born in Mentone, and his dad had owned that same airport many years earlier, up til the late 70’s.  Bob would stop by for a week or so most summers and visit friends and family, and he’d be out several times to practice aerobatics while giving the locals some fab free airshow.  Airshows at a fly-in are great.  Airshows in your backyard with Bob Herendeen and no rules are awesome!  This video is of Bob practicing, and showing off for the camera some too.  It definitely shows enough of his flying to see that he really was something special.

 I feel very fortunate to have known Bob, and I’m thankful for the chance to share some of his fantastic flying with the world thru this video.


Bob Herendeen in the cockpit of his beautiful Pitts Special at the Mentone Airport in Indiana.  The video above is from 1986, but this picture might be from another year from that era.


This was by far the most exhilarating picture I've ever taken.  It's not from the video sequence, but it might be from the same year.  Bob was going about 200 mph and literally just a few feet off the deck and headed almost right at me.  I had a long zoom lens on the camera so it's just by chance that I had it both framed and pretty well focused with him approaching so fast (no auto focus back then).   I took the pic and lowered the camera to watch him go by... OMGosh - he was only about 20 feet in front of me as he screamed on by with the lower wingtip about waist height!  It was the coolest thing I've ever seen, and then my knees got kinda weak.  Wow : )


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Reader Comments (13)

Great Video, Bob has always been my hero.

February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDennie Morris

Hello Martt
I just learned about your Site when Bob's second cousin Bud Hudson called me about it this afternoon (2/26/10). So naturally I had to check it out. I am so sorry to learn about your dad's passing. Regarding Bob, I would like to correct the date of his birth - February 17, 1928 not 1926 - not that it makes a whole lot of difference. Suggest that check out the many old tapes that the Bell museum has. I turned over to the museum a lot of Bob's tapes and memorabilia. They might even be willing to loan some tapes to you. (Signed) Jacque Herendeen ( Bob Herendeen's widow)

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacque Herendeen

I saw Bob fly for the first time at Orange County International Raceway in So. California in 1969, and watched him "do his thing" many, many times afterward. He was - and still is - my favorite. Your comments on Bob's style and that he was a true gentleman are right on.

May 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Guignard

I knew both Chick (Bob's Dad) and Bob. I was the airport kid in the mid 60's. I soloed off the grass strip at the Mentone Airport in Dec 1967. Bob helped us one day when we had problems with our airplane and then ate some dinner (cheeseburger and a malt). He then went and put on show that was unbelievable. My Mom still talked about that day with Bob until the day she died. Other people in Rochester will still ask me questions or tell stories about Bob and his Dad.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark MCgurk

Mark- Thanx for sharing your experience with Chick, Bob and the airport!

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

I'm doing a video documentary on the history of Orange County International Racway. Bob Herendeen took part in numerous air shows there, and I'd really like to be able to give him credit for such crowd-pleasing performances. Any idea where I can obtain any photos of him performing; but it has has to be from the era of the Orange County Raceway air shows, circa 1971? Thanks so much. Don Gillespie. Email:

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDon Gillespie

Bob was my Hero growing up. In fact, I named all the pilots in my R/C airplanes "Bob".

I can't see the video on this page. Any suggestions. I'm looking for all the video I can find of Bob.


Pitts S1S

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave Scott

Thank you for the info on Bob Herendeen (and video). My Mom and Dad grew up in Rochester In. They talked about Bob and his flying often, as my brother and I were growing up. Wish I had been able to meet him. My parents always spoke with the highest regard for Bob. It"s good to find some Mentone Ind. history!

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Long

I just found your video of Bob at Mentone and it brought back some memories. I was in the small group of people that witnessed this show ( or one a lot like it! ) I thought at the time that he must be a little bit crazy, but realized later the skill and practice required to fly like that. I did some skydiving at Mentone in a couple summers, and worked for Skystream in Plymouth and Warsaw, IN around that time. Thanks for posting this and great job on the website.

October 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarty Eisenhour

Hola , yo recuerdo haberlo visto en los periodicos aqui en Guatemala, si no estoy mal el vino una vez para el aniversario de la Fuerza Aerea de Guatemala, yo vi el show aereo desde muy lejos pero si veia la potencia que tenia la nave, almenos aqui en guatemala era impresionante en ese entonces. Yo busque este nombre, yo no encontre esto por casualidad, yo sabia que existia este Piloto, ahora se leer un poco ingles y puedo decir que vale la pena recordar... buen post.


(lo siento pero mi ingles no es muy bueno) (por eso es en español)

November 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMario Hernandez

I enjoy see these videos since Bob was a relative of mine. My Dad took us to the airport in Mentone when I was little but that was a long time ago. Thanks for sharing.


January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGary Lee Herendeen

Martt, My dad, Jim Gates was a classmate of Bob's at MHS. and had been friends a long time. Dad would take out his super 8 home movie camera and film Bob's practice sessions. Unfortunately, they were not well preserved through the years, But still have delightful memories of his skills in the Pitts Special! Glad to see you've honored him with this site and others can enjoy it too. Regards,

May 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAudie Gates

I took a lesson from Bob at Santa Paula airport around 1978-80. Bob was a hero to me. He could handle a Pitts like it was part of himself. He taught me a lot in that hour, that I’ll never forget. On the flight back from Santa Paula to my home airport, Compton, Bob flew formation with me, doing aerobatics much of the way. Like inverted tucked in along my Pitts with his. Bob was soft spoken, but he could make a Pitts scream and holler.

February 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChuck Heald

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