Aviation benefits from Bob’s studies of all aspects of the business (from the photograph it is clear that Mr. Poole is multi-modal in his interests; see below also). His academic roots are B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduate work in operations research at New York University. His work includes airport privatization, the corporatization of the Air Traffic Control system and improvement of the practices of the TSA, among other aviation topics. His list of advisory positions is impressively notable as to the people/organizations seeking his advice, the impact his ideas had on those efforts and the number of such engagements. Bob’s expositions are frequently included in the JDA Journal and his thoughts are so compelling that they are quoted virtually without comment.
Q: Are you a pilot?
A: No, but when I was an MIT student, one of my fellow students took me flying with him several times from Hanscom Field. He taught me how to bank and turn, and to stall and recover. I really loved it, but when I had the time for lessons, I didn’t have the money, and since I’ve had the money, I’ve never had the time.
Q: What is the coolest airplane you have ever flown in?
A: The Concorde, just one flight JFK to LHR. I was a guest speaker at an anniversary dinner of the Adam Smith Institute in London (with P.M. John Major as the keynote speaker). BA was a sponsor of the dinner, and provided several American speakers with one-way Concorde flights, space-available. Fortunately there was space available. It was very cool.
Q: Over the course of your career you have participated in a number of aviation safety projects. What do you consider to be the one project with the greatest safety impact?
A: My aviation policy work has not been focused on safety, per se, but if and when the United States separates the ATO from the FAA, providing arm’s length safety regulation as I have advocated for many years, that will be my proudest contribution to aviation safety.
Q: What aviation websites (other than JDA Journal) do you most frequently visit?
A: Aviation Week, A4A, AOPA; also a regular participant on Mifnet.
Q: What phrase or words of wisdom and the author do you cite most frequently in your aviation work?
A: I mostly invoke words of wisdom from favorite economists—Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, and James Buchanan, all Nobel laureates.
Q: Who is your favorite person in aviation history?
A: Burt Rutan, the most creative aircraft designer of our time. Close seconds: Herb Kelleher for reinventing commercial aviation and Alfred Kahn for ending CAB regulation.
Q: Which do you prefer the Paris Air Show or Oshkosh?
A: I’ve never been to either, but I think Oshkosh would be a lot more fun.
Q: What are you reading these days for fun?
A: Science fiction, mostly, such as the “Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi.
Q: What tunes are on your iPod playlist?
A: All the tunes from the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary concert tour, and all five piano concertos of Camile Saint Saens.
Q: How do you spend your leisure moments?
A: Working on my model railroad, which is re-creating the Southern Pacific Coast Line route from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara in the early 1950s (in O scale, ¼” to the foot). This takes a very large (30” x 50’) room and is a long way from being finished.