One of my early memories of Bob Armond was in Mexico. He had just
started instructing and decided to have a casual just-for-fun gathering
at Baja Seasons resort in La Salinas, Baja California, Mexico. A lot off
his students showed up but so did a lot of other with different brands
of paramotors. I watched as Bob worked every various machines regardless
of whose they were, just to keep people flying. It was a side of Bob
that some people never got to see.
later went on to cohost Michael Purdy's Powered Paragliding show along
with Casey Cadwell and myself, which garnered over 6000 segment-listens
per episode. Bob was a big part of it. Always willing to speak his mind
in bold assertions which made life on the air more lively. The show took
a hiatus for a while but has come back as part of
Powered Sport Flying Radio of
which Bob was a periodic participant, being on a show just two weeks
He was dedicated to giving others the gift of flight--he loved to
teach. His favorite aspect was getting people airborne for the first
time, in control of the craft as pilots. And he was prolific, starting 3
to 6 people every week on the beach in Ventura, CA and continuing
through as multiple flights as their time and conditions would allow.
I bought my first motorhome, the Enterprise, I enjoyed several
fabulous flights out in California with Bob including one memorable trip
where we flew to the set of major movie where they had built an entire
neighborhood, only to tear it down after filming was done. As you can
see from an extract of video, it was already partially demolished. It
was a one of several memorable flights with Bob. I had only been flying
three years at the time so everything was still quite new but Bob made
it fun and always made me feel welcome.
Probably more than anything else, Bob loved life and flying was a big
part of it. His firebrand style of enthusiasm served him well, allowing
him to build what became one of the sport's top selling brands,
Paratoys, which he eventually sold to Mike Robinson who continues to
grow what Bob started.
My heart goes out to his family and closest friends. It makes me
appreciate this life all the more and hopefully help remember how
quickly it can be snuffed.
Thanks for all you've done, Bob. We'll miss you.
There have been many tributes posted to various forums, this is just
At the memorial, by Steve Tustison, June 18, 2011
Just got home from a long emotional day visiting with Bob's
friends and family. It was a great gathering. We laughed, we cried,
renewed some acquaintances, and celebrated Bob's life and the people
The final tribute to Bob was a late afternoon flyby of Paramotors
in a missing man formation, and a release of his ashes over Ventura
Harbor. As the cloud slowly dissipated, I don't think there was a
dry eye on the beach. As we go forward from here in our daily lives,
I hope the the sorrow of losing our friend will dissipate, like his
cloud, and the good memories will remain. I will miss you my friend.
I will in time get over my sorrow, and will keep the good memories.
Fly high Bob.
Bob and I got into powered paragliding within weeks of each other
in 2000 and we have been friends ever since.
The last time I saw Bob was a few weeks ago when he came to my beach
at La Salina to give quad rides to the orphans from the Door of
Faith Orphanage. He did so all day. As it got overcast and cold he
kept at it but wanted some warm socks. That night he snored more
loudly than I have ever from anyone - he was tired from the day.
In the decade or so between these to events I spent many, many great
times flying and laughing with Bob.
We did a lot of radio/podcast shows AKA The Powered Paragliding
Show. In recent years as production of the radio show became
periodic at best, I could always count on many requests to bring
back the original show with Bob. Yeah Jeff and you are ok but Bob is
the real reason we listen. Richard Knoblock "you can call me Dick"
was as a pure invention of Phil Russman and Bob. He became a regular
on the show for a while and half the audience knew it was a joke
while the other half were indignant that Dick, a devout free-flight
purist, would steal Bob's paramotor, taking it for a test flight but
never returning. Oh, we had fun with that!
I just can't believe he's gone. Bob has always been bigger than
life. And tragically, he is now bigger than this life.
Hey, don't forget check those throttles...
Bob was a true leader that did a lot of good for our sport. I
remember his first two students in La Salina, Baja Mexico. At that
time, I never thought he would go so far in the sport as he did. I
will miss him. He brought me and many others many fun times!
RIP Bob. You will be missed by many.
Bob was such an amazing man, father, brother, son, uncle, friend
& instructor and I know if you are his friend or colleague in your
sport, he touched your life in some meaningful way and you, his.
Thank you for loving him, supporting him, laughing and playing with
him all these years. I know that this is your loss as well.
We are unsure at this time exactly when and what day, but late
next week or weekend, we will do as Bob desired and have someone (
Micheal Purdy? one of his special flying buddies) fly over the ocean
at sunset and spread his ashes over the sea. He made this very clear
that this is his wish..He also wanted a party after, with, and i
quote," lots of booze" and music...I hope you you all will honor Bob
with us and attend.
Im so sorry for that such a bright light in all of our lives just
left us..But I know he is free flying, left this dimension doing
what he most loved and now is shining brighter than ever! I know I
personally will never meet again such vivacious, loving, hilarious,
intelligent, controversial, irreverent and FUN as my hero, my
brother Bob. I was HONORED to be his "favorite" and only sister :)
I've been thinking about Bob all day since hearing this terrible
My first PPG flight was a tandem at the 2005 Salton Sea Fly-In.
Bob and I had many friendly exchanges and I was happy to know
that he actually knew of and liked some of my work. He was friendly
and accepting of just about anyone, particularly if they were
pilots, and he was generous with his time even to people who weren't
actual students of his.
My favorite memory of Bob was from the 2008 fly-in. I gave him
some fireworks (the big kind that you see at fireworks shows) and he
proceeded to light and aim them at some of his friends who were
riding an ATV at night on the beach.
He was one of a kind and I consider him a friend who I will miss
Photos by Jeff Goin, Jim Childs.
Bob Armond at one of the Paratoys events.
So What happened?
Bob was flying a relatively recently purchased hang
glider trike. A witness said that it "plummeted" 100 feet, presumably
from fairly level flight. There was no mention of maneuvering.
He was flying near 11AM in a desert area. Convective
turbulence would be well before peak but would be quite strong given the
dry, desert conditions. But this was a framed ultralight meaning that it
should be reasonably resistant to turbulence.
Mechanical failure is possible but there craft have
almost no moving parts--the cart/wing pivot being the most critical. It
was obviously intact since the wing and cart were together but would it
be possible for the cart to slide on the wing keel? If the cart slid
forward more than a few inches, it would cause rapid climb then possibly
stall. If it slid back there would be an immediate dive. Inspection of
the craft would make this quite clear.
Sudden incapacitation? It's happened before and,
given the unusual circumstance of flying level then suddenly diving it
Pilot input is another possibility, maybe from
over-reaction to strong thermal gusts. Bob's prior experience was mostly
with 3-axis control craft where pulling back on the stick makes the
craft climb. These are opposite. I fly a hang glider trike and remember
having to resist that impulse on early flights.
Courtesy Hi-Desert Star