Should my end come while I am in flight, Whether brightest day or darkest night;

Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain, Secure in the knowledge that I'd do it again;

For each of us is created to die, And within me I know, I was born to fly.

Gary Claud Stoko

Bob Odegaard once told his family that if he ever died in a plane crash, we shouldn’t say it was fitting that he died doing something he loved. According to Bob, “Sure, I love flying, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have loved crashing.”

The aviation industry lost one of its finest when Robert Odegaard of Kindred, ND died while practicing for an air show in Valley City, ND on September 7, 2012. Robert James Odegaard was born on August 12, 1946, in Fargo, ND to Melford and Annette (Erickson) Odegaard. He attended country school near Hickson, ND and went to high school at the University of Minnesota Boarding School in Crookston, MN. In 1964-65, he attended Northrop Technical Institute in Los Angeles, CA receiving an A&P certificate there. He served in the Army Reserve, attending Brook General Medical School and graduating as an x-ray technician. He attended North Dakota State University from 1966-71, studying economics, and joining TKE and serving as their president. He has been continuing his education with many noted scholars at the Kindred “College of Knowledge.”

In 1973 he met and married his “Dazzling” Donna Weber, later naming his first rebuilt P-51 Mustang after her. They have always resided in rural Kindred with their three children, Brady, Casey, and Halley, who are all currently involved in the aircraft industry, also living and working in Kindred. Summers were spent at their lake cabin on Pelican Lake in Minnesota, and lately, winters in and around Mesa, AZ residing in the Golden Vista RV Resort of Apache Junction.

From an early age, Robert was fascinated by airplanes as he watched crop sprayers working around the family farm. He later founded Odegaard Aviation, an aerial spray firm, which he operated for 31 years without an accident. He served as the Kindred airport manager during this time and played a pivotal role in the development of the Kindred Davenport Regional Airport at Hamry Field.

Robert was a brilliant airplane mechanic, a successful entrepreneur, an excellent flight instructor and mentor to young pilots, a storyteller, a musician, and an inventor. He invented the airfoil spray boom, later called the Superboom, which continues to be marketed internationally. Bob also built the first taxi-thru indoor aerial spraying loading facility in North Dakota. He was very involved in the wind industry, inventing and testing his own windmill designs.

Bob was one of the producers and also one of the pilots in the full-length feature film, “Thunder over Reno,” which featured the Reno Air Races, where he, himself, raced in 2006-8. He participated in three episodes of the network TV show “Junkyard Wars” with ND ex-governor Ed Schaefer & friend Rolf Sletten. One of his favorite “acting” jobs was flying a Lear jet and being a target for military pilots in U.S. Air Force training programs.

In 1989, Bob started rebuilding his first P-51 Mustang. That was the beginning of the Mustang wing business and also the start of his quest to keep WWII history alive around the world. Bob is the rebuilder and former owner of the Super Corsair, Race 57, a historic aircraft that brought worldwide attention to North Dakota because of its uniqueness and rarity. He passed down his restoration knowledge to his three children and helped them start their own restoration business.

Robert was a certified flight instructor, holding single-engine, multi-engine, helicopter, glider, and floatplane licenses with type ratings in over 10 aircraft including LearJet, Citation, and DC-3.  He also held a rare “All Makes and Models” authorization for flying surplus military aircraft. Many young pilots consider him a mentor. He has soloed numerous students, including his two sons. Perhaps his dedication to the future of aviation is best illustrated by Duggy, a DC-3 painted bright yellow with a smiling face. Duggy excites young people at air shows around the country.

Robert was active in the formation of the Fargo Air Museum and served as a board member. He volunteered his time and his aircraft to the development, financing, maintenance and success of the museum. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the North Dakota Aviation Association. As a member of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), he performed in their annual airshow, EAA Airventure Oshkosh, numerous times with several different airplanes. He has been active with the Arizona Wing of the CAF of Mesa, AZ, where he volunteered during the winters.

As a member of the Kindred community, he helped raise funds to build St. Maurice’s Catholic Church and served on the church council. He has supported Kindred High School athletics as a Booster Club member. He was a Kindred volunteer fireman at one time and a member of the local American Legion. He was also a member of St. George Catholic Church of Apache Junction, AZ, and St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church of rural Detroit Lakes, where he sang with the church choirs.  

Bob has received numerous awards, including the Henderson Air Racing History Award, which is given to recognize “those who perpetuate air racing history through preservation, replication or historical research.” Other awards include the Aviation Mechanic Safety Award; the 1999 Aviation Heritage Trophy, and the 1999 People’s Choice National Aviation Heritage Invitation. In 2011, he was inducted into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame.

Robert has been featured in many aviation magazines and books. He has participated in numerous air shows, performing aerobatics and displaying aircraft. He has coordinated and participated in multiple fly-overs for various activities and celebrations. Just a few weeks ago, he performed with the Texas Flying Legends in a private air show that was given as a birthday present to former president George H.W. Bush.

His main hobby away from aviation, but included within, was his love for playing his 1965 Fender Mustang guitar with his many musical friends. Along with his portable amplifier, he even strummed along while flying with those friends in the CJ and the DC-3.

Robert is survived by his wife, Donna; sons, Brady and Casey, and daughter, Halley, all of Kindred; brothers, Tom Odegaard (Bonnie), Kindred, and Marvin Odegaard, Elgin, ND; sister, Gloria Sheldon (Fuller), Mapleton, ND, sister in law Cheryl Odegaard, West Fargo, ND; nieces and nephews: Brett Odegaard, Tyler Odegaard, Kara Odegaard, Chad Odegaard, Brian Odegaard, Deanna Opgrand, Clark Sheldon, Annetta Tweten, and several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Gary Odegaard.

There will be a prayer service on Tuesday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. with visitation from 5-7 at St. Maurice’s Catholic Church in Kindred. The funeral will be at St. Maurice’s, Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. with visitation one hour before the service with Rev. Jared C. Kadlec and Rev. James Cheney officiating. Burial will be at the Kindred Cemetery, followed by a light supper and celebration of Bob’s life at the Fargo Air Museum.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Fargo Air Museum and St. Maurice Catholic Church.

Bob shared his wisdom, sense of humor, bright outlook on life and his passion for everything related to air and aircraft with people all over the world. He lived a life of adventure, daring, friendship and love of his family. He will be truly missed.

And when the goals are reached at last, when all the flying’s done,I'll answer Him with no regret-
Indeed, I had some fun.So when these things are asked of me. And I can reach no higher,My prayer this day - His hand extends
To welcome home a Flyer.                                                                                                Patrick J. Phillips

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  1. Bloomington MN
    Our deepest sympathy to your family, he will be missed by everyone who knew him. A donation has been made in his honor to the Fargo Air Museum.

  2. Mandan ND
    Dear Donna, Casey, Brady, Halley, and Family,

    I was in Fargo yesterday to see my parents and saw a reference in an editorial about Bob. My heart raced hoping it wasn’t your Bob, but sadly, it was.
    Kelly and I know the deep sadness and pain of your broken hearts. We lost Chuck exactly a year ago, too.
    Please let us know if there is anything we can do to console you. God bless you.
    Kay Elvrum and Kelly Kay

  3. Raymore MODonna, Casey, Brady, Halley, and Family,

    During this difficult time Deron and I would like to pass on our condolences to you and your family as we keep you all in our prayers and thoughts. We will sure miss our friend.

    God Bless

  4. Hustonville KYA tragic loss not only for his family, but for all of us dedicated to aviation. We so enjoyed the Corsairs he brought to Oshkosh and his performance during the shows, I can still hear his name being announced over the P A system at Airventure. My 8 year old son first learned about the Super Corsair this year and enjoyed seeing it fly.

    Our sincerest condolences.

  5. Howard S. Dak.I was at the 1949 Cleveland AIR races and shot some 8 mm film of the two corsairs that Bob restored and sent him a copy of them a few years ago on either VCR or DVD, I had spoken to him a few times at OSKOSH and Falcon field as we stayed in our motor home atGolden Vista for years but had moved on before he lived there . He was a true Patroit. I was Crop Sprayer for 37 years in SD and had stoped in at his shop the day he was installing the exhaust stacks on Race 57. I can truly say that I knew the finest person and artist on earth and beyond. MARK BREUER, HOWARD, S. Dak.

  6. SAN TAN VALLEY AZ
    My husband has been a docent at the CAF-AZ Wing Museum since August 2011. He met Bob there and enjoyed every minute that he had talking with Bob. In Bob, he found a kindred spirit – one who loved airplanes and history and they could share this love. He was looking forward to seeing Bob when he returned to Arizona this fall and is crushed that he won’t be able to talk with him again. I think, though, he will continue to ‘communicate’ with Bob since their joint love of planes and all things aviation surpasses the bounds of this world. Just thinking about Bob makes him happy and sad together. The AOPA tribute picture says it all – those wide open arms along side the airplane and the biggest welcoming arms – that IS Bob.

    May God hold all of you, his family, in the palm of His hands during this difficult time and may the warmth of all your friendships help sustain you. We are praying for you.

    Regards,

    Dorothy and Frank Pervangr

  7. Winnipeg ManitobaOur industry has lost a true icon. Bob will be greatly missed by many people. Bob approached everything he did with such enthusiasm and it was always so enjoyable to sit and listen to his stories. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  8. Kenora OntarioThe aviation family is very small and tight knit. We are all very sorry to hear the sad news about the loss of a “family” member.

    The aviation world is going to miss his leadership.

  9. Neenah WISorry to read of your loss. Bob was always super with my godson Tyler. At age 7 or 8 Bob showed Tyler how to preflight Duggy and has done that for the last 3 years. That has been a big part of Tyler’s EAA experience. AND, very important that he gets to do that. This year it Casey that Tyler helped with the show preflight.
    Thanks – Fly’m high Bob,
    Bill, Tyler and Diana

  10. Gold Canyon AZ
    As an ex airline and military pilot who has met and trained many pilots over the years, I can say that Bob was the best of the best. It was an honor to be part of his circle of friends. Here in Arizona we had a small group of aviation enthusiasts who meet at least once a month at Falcon Field for lunch during the winter months. Bob stood out among our group both as a pilot and a story teller, but mostly as just a really really good guy to be around. What a sad day to loose such a special man. He will be greatly missed.

  11. Crooked River Ranch OregonThe skies over Golden Vista will never be the same without Robert saying hello from above. We will miss his quiet presence and the twinkle in his eye. Our thoughts and prayers to Donna and family.

  12. Colfax ND
    Many years ago, I took my Dad to the Casselton Fly-in where Bob had brought his TBM. Dad was a WWII TBM aviator, so I told him to go and talk to Bob about it. At first Dad refused, saying that Bob would not care to hear from a old Navy Flyboy! I kept insisting until Dad finally went over to talk. About 2 hours later, I had to just about drag Dad away! Bob and Dad got along famously!
    As an aside, I have worked for many years with the Fargo Airsho Committee folks and often ran into Bob.
    A true gentleman, an airman’s airman…he will truly be missed! My sympathies to his family and to the aviation world at this tragic event.

  13. Mayville ND
    Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the funeral because of Pastoral obligations in my parishes here. I offer my sympathy to the family. Bob was a wonderful man to work and visit with in the years that I was at St. Maurice.

  14. Elkhorn WisconsinOur thoughts and prayers to you and your family. May God give you the strength
    to help you through this difficult time. The
    fly overs at GV will not be the same.

  15. Marysville MIDonna and family,
    My sister, Debbi Jevne, told me about your husband’s accident. I’m so sorry! It looks like you had a wonderful life together. You have so many fond memories and many friends, as well as God helping you through this time. I look forward to seeing you again at some Sweet Adeline competition. We met in Houston at the International Convention when your chorus did the class. Peggi Starkey

  16. Bismarck ND
    To the Odegaard Family
    I am truly sorry for Bobs passing and wish your family all the strength to overcome his passing.
    I had worked with Bob for over 32 years on developing the Kindred airport from state and now federal support. We really had some challenges to overcome in the new runway concrete project. Numerous meetings were held with the public and airport board. Bob has alway been my inspiration to keep trying to make it happen. The airport really became one to be proud to talk about.
    For all the years of working with Bob, he will not be forgotten in our aviation history!

  17. Buford GeorgiaLike everyone else here, I was shocked to hear about this tragic accident. My heart goes out to the Odegaard family.

    I had the distinct privelege to ride with Bob last year at Oshkosh in a TBM 850 while he and Jimmy Leeward performed a “race” during the airshow. I could write a book on this wonderful experience, but the professionalism and skills I witnessed were above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of flying.

    Mr. Odegaard, your unselfish and kind nature meant a lot to me and made a very positive mark in my life. I thank you sir for the experience we shared. I hope you and Jimmy are reconnected now and enjoying your full reward for life.

    To the Odegaard family, you are and always will be in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless.

    Mike Sarsfield

  18. FARGO ND
    To Donna and the Family, Sorry for your lost, I knew of him from growing up in the area and Donna for the good old days of Softball. The town/ community will miss him.

  19. Atherton QLD, AustraliaBob helped make life long dreams happen, even for aviation enthusiasts over the other side of the world.
    While visiting ND
    recently, we will be forever grateful to Bob for spending the time with Mark and giving him the opportunity to complete a check out flight in Toby’s P-51.
    A True Gentleman!
    Our deepest condolence to Casey and the Odegaard family.

  20. Kindred ND
    Our condolences to the family. He was a great guy and I know our town will miss him. He has done a lot for our community and many other areas also.

    GOD BLESS
    Barbara, Douglas &
    Maryon Swisher

  21. West Lafayette OhioMy sympathy goes out to Casey,Brady and the whole Odegaard family.I had met Bob at numerous airshows around the country.As a fellow avaitor,I admired Bob for his many accomplishments in aviation.He will be greatly missed by many.

  22. Omro WICasey,

    There are no words to say in what we are feeling as we try to take in the news on this great loss. We knew you and your Dad through “Duggy” “EAA at Oshkosh”, but we enjoyed some great times, many laughs, over the years, these we will treasure.

    The smile on Bob was as bright as Duggy’s and I might add as warm & big.

    Please extend our deepest regrets to your Mother and family.

    DonnaMarie & Bill Hasenfus
    (Ground Crew) (POW Flag)
    Skydive Adventure
    Omro, Wisconsin
    (Liberty Parachute Team)

  23. Greenville IAMy condolences to family and close friends. Bob’s contibutions were many-his loss will be felt for a very long time.