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Jul-16-2006 19:48printcomments

Jet Pilot Who Died in Hillsboro was One of The Best

Robert Guilford was an extremely experienced pilot with 4,000 hours logged over 44-years of flying.

various photos of Bob Guilford and his plane
Bob Guilford and his Hawker Hunter
Photos: and

(HILLSBORO) - The pilot who died during at an airshow in Hillsboro, Oregon is a distinguished attorney from Los Angeles, California. Robert E. Guilford was also a distinguished pilot, becoming proficient in his lifetime with a number of different fighter aircraft that he flew at airshows.

Mr. Guilford was born in Cleveland, Ohio, April 14, 1933. After completing his education at the University of Virginia where he earned a B.A., with Honors in Philosophy, and Harvard Law School where he graduated with a J.D. in 1958, he began to practice law in California, joining the state bar in 1959. It didn't take long for the young attorney to also gain his commercial pilot's license with an instrument rating.

His many affiliations included membership in the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Classic Jet Aircraft Association where he served was a past Chairman.

Additionally, he was a Co-Founder of Warbirds of America, one of the nation's leading vintage military aircraft organizations, and the former V.P. of Hunter Flight Test, Ltd.

The Hawker aircraft company has manufactured many famous planes over the years, the most famous probably being the Hawker "Harrier", the western jet fighter that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter. The current Harrier flown exclusively by the U.S. Marines is a McDonald Douglas/Hawker design.

Mr. Guilford's name is on the Aviation Counsel Magazine's List of Recommended High Flyers, believed by the International Air Transport Association's Legal Dept. to be one of the most elite lists of aviation law practitioners ever produced.

As an attorney, his practice Areas included airline crash litigation, aviation accidents, aviation product liability, and mass disaster litigation.

He was the only FAA Authorized Instructor for the Hawker Hunter swept wing, transonic jet fighter; authorized to train pilots to fly this aircraft and recommend them to the FAA; and to requalify pilots after lapse of proficiency.

He is also the former owner/pilot of the racing Corsair, "Blue Max"; 2 P-51 Mustangs; a Hawker Sea Fury; a Hawker Hunter T.8C and a GA-ll model.

He was the Owner/Pilot of a Soko Galeb G-2A Jet Fighter and Hawker Hunter Mk. 58 swept-wing British Fighter that crashed in Hillsboro on Sunday.

An Authorized Instructor, Bob Guilford had experience with the F4U Corsair, Skyraider, Sea Fury, P-51 Mustang, T-28 and Spitfire, spending more than 4,000 hours in the air over his 44-years as a licensed pilot. He was highly regarded and even as a civilian, he ranked among military aviation's most avid and experienced pilots.


Internal Comments are Closed on this story.

MORGAN October 7, 2010 11:52 am (Pacific time)

Guilford's Hunter was not fitted with a live ejection seat because the government would no approve the explosive elements for the ejection system. He had no choice other than to ride the aircraft down to the ground. His error started by having been overconfident in the fact that he would never have an engine failure. Everyone says what a great pilot he was but I knew him from his first days and he was anything but an ace. He survived for a long time, then the odds caught up and he didn't really know what to do.

walter cook January 16, 2010 3:50 pm (Pacific time)

I worked on the Blue Max in 1972 in California doing my practical for my A&P (A&E).

CbCredtCard August 7, 2007 11:04 am (Pacific time)

I’m sobbing :) Somebody needs to remind people that there is no such thing as a good credit card deal. They will cause you to lose what you have. CbCredtCard

BbCredtCard August 6, 2007 5:29 pm (Pacific time)

Hi, I lately moved to the USA from Australia. I still have an Australian credit card account and I would like to transfer balance to a credit card here. What do I need to get a credit card here (SSN or what?) what website can I use to apply for a card and transfer a? I found shell gas bad credit card

Ed Nellis September 11, 2006 6:52 pm (Pacific time)

Bob gave my 17 year old daughter a ride in the jump seat of Bob's F-4U Corsair, the Blue Max, in September 1986 at the Santa Monica Airport. It was the thrill of her young life, and Bob flew the airplane like the pro he was. I have seen Bob race this airplane at Mojave and Reno, "Race 93". I never felt my daughter was at risk, other than those we all face in this life that may be beyond our control. Both she and I will never forget Bob, and his gracious gesture.

Cole Pierce, USN (ret.) July 24, 2006 2:02 pm (Pacific time)

Military or not, Squiffy was one of the best. He checked me out in the Hunter several years ago. Very meticulous about procedures, limitations, maintenance. He knew his stuff, and we've lost an aviation giant.

Vinton Lampton July 22, 2006 11:57 am (Pacific time)

As a pilot RADM Steve Matthews I'm sure the only thing the Government taught him was how to punch-out. I only knew Bob for a short time and flew with him in his Soko Galeb. He struck me as a very safe and learned pilot. I have been flying for 40 years and would have flown with Bob anytime. He will be missed tremendiously

Steve Guilford July 22, 2006 12:21 am (Pacific time)

Excuse me RADM Steve Matthews, I never heard my father speak of you. If you know so much about the accident and circumstances involved, perhaps you'd care to opine as to how a military pilot would have handled the situation better.

Del Mitchell July 19, 2006 4:05 pm (Pacific time)

I would agree with Space Angel's comments about S. Matthew's inappropriate remarks on Bob's lack of military expertise in flying high performance aircraft. I know a lot of military pilots who are gone because of mistakes or mechanical failure, so Admiral, you're off base here, and your remarks are not credible. I also knew Bob, and he was a great pilot. He's in heaven now with Dan Lavigna teaching Naval Aviators how to carrier land. RIP Bob.

Joe Morales July 18, 2006 10:09 pm (Pacific time)

I've known Bob for about 15 years, great pilot and a classy guy. Bob, RIP with all the other great pilots...

Colonel Bill Lawrence, USMC July 18, 2006 7:39 pm (Pacific time)

I knew Bob for many years. As a former Marine pilot and test pilot, we had much to talk about and became good friends. I worked with him often in my consultant role and just left him in Los Angeles two weeks ago after his latest trial. Bob was a truly gregarious, friendly, lively, generous, and warm man. He will truly be missed.

Ron Amiran July 18, 2006 6:57 pm (Pacific time)

My friend, my true friend, Bob, has perished. Although I shall always miss him as a friend and a fellow pilot, at least he is gone while doing the thing he loved most, soaring with the eagles. Bob has been a true man and a friend, compassionate, energetic and always there when needed, never a lapse in judgement. Bob, I shall see you there eventually.

John Mares July 17, 2006 8:40 pm (Pacific time)

I have a hangar down the line from Bob and met him a couple of times. He was always friendly, gregarious and LOVED to talk about the Hunter. I was shocked at the news and will remember him in my prayers. My only hope is that he went quickly and painlessly, doing something he loved. He was so excited about the upcoming "circuit" and hope that his life will be inspirational to other aviators. Does anyone know about a memorial or "celebration of life"?

Guantanamo Sunrise July 17, 2006 6:32 pm (Pacific time)

Bob took me up in his biplane about 24 years ago. We did barrel rolls and other stunts. I thought I was going to die but it was fun. He just loved to fly and I'm not surprised he went out this way. RIP.

Dave B. July 17, 2006 5:57 pm (Pacific time)

Awful news. R.I.P

Shawn Aro July 17, 2006 2:47 pm (Pacific time)

I saw Bob Race the Blue Max at the Reno air races. He was alwayes a pleasure to watch, low and slow and tight my regards Shawn Aro Reno Nv

Space Angel July 17, 2006 1:24 pm (Pacific time)

I simply question whether S. Matthews "knew Bob very well" or actually is a RADM. His comments seems petty and self serving and are out of line with the demeanor of any of the Naval Aviators that I have had the honor of knowing.

The ArkRube July 17, 2006 11:40 am (Pacific time)

It's sad to qualify one's self as to being the better man than a fellow aviator that has just perished in a crash...yet, not a real "shocker" coming from a military officer. Never confuse or qualify your understanding of a situation with your former rank or self-righteous status above the general populace... Such comments such as those posed by Steve Matthews should remain on the boat. "Ride hard, shoot straight, and tell the truth"

Julianne Feuerhelm July 17, 2006 9:49 am (Pacific time)

Bob kept his jet on our leasehold at Van Nuys. He was generous to many local charities, donating his jet for numerous fund raisers. He was a good friend and sadly will be missed by all of us who knew and respected him!

RADM Steve Matthews, USN July 17, 2006 7:45 am (Pacific time)

I knew Bob very well, so I can say this without remorse. I have over 7000 hours in high performance military fighter and attack aircraft. No matter how good a pilot he was, he never had the skills that are learned through military aviation experience.

Hank Ruark July 17, 2006 5:32 am (Pacific time)

As working rule, do not comment here...but this one demands kudos for sensitive treatment and needed information not found elsewhere --which is true function of local daily.

Doug Tidy July 17, 2006 5:12 am (Pacific time)

Another good pilot 'gone west'. R I P. The Hunter was IMHO the most beautiful aircraft after the Spitfire. Doug ex 74 Sqn RAF in WW2 (which sqn flew both)

Matt July 17, 2006 12:12 am (Pacific time)

Sad day for aviation - He will be missed.

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