R.I.P. Bob Violett

R.I.P. Bob Violett

We woke up today and learned of the very sad news that Bob Violett had passed away. All in the RC community recognized him as the father of what we now know as the RC Jet industry. Without his innovation and drive for excellence, the jet modelling world wouldn’t be the same. For many years, the editors of Model Airplane News have reported on his amazing scale and sport jet designs, and watched as he lead the development of RC Jet aircraft with his company Bob Violett Models (BVM).

Bob served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam and piloted both A-4 Skyhawks and F-8 Crusaders and flew 76 combat missions, and was awarded the “Distinguished Flying Cross” and numerous other military honors. After he finished his tour in the Navy Bob became a pilot for Eastern Airlines.

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | R.I.P. Bob Violett

Active in model competition including Pattern, Scale, and Pylon racing, his early involvement in pylon racing lead to the development of his “BobCat” design, (published in the February 1973 issue of Model Airplane News), which earned him many championship titles. Ultimately, Bob used a ducted-fan unit designed by his good friend Jim Scozafava, to power his F-4 phantom-looking model called the “Sundowner”. The unit was called a Scozzi unit and it was powered by a K&B Pylon .40 glow engine.To simplify the construction,the fan unit was eternally hung on the underside of the Sundowner.

After taking an early retirement from Eastern Airlines he started BVM in 1981. Recognizing early ducted-fan jet models as being very noisy, Bob worked to produce much quieter versions. He developed new ways of making internal inlet ducting and this led to ducted fan jet models that operated more efficiently and at very low sound levels.

According to his longtime friend Frank Tiano, Bob was the first one to put a turbine engine in an airframe and fly it the USA. He powered an F-16 with one and demo flew it in the early 90s at Top Gun in Palm Beach, FL. Frank says that Bob was a leader and innovator in so many of the things that jets use today to be more powerful and efficient. Turbine installations, thrust tubes and inlet systems, are three of the biggies. Bob alone is responsible for the entire jet marketplace as we know it today.

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | R.I.P. Bob Violett

(Above) Bob Violett (Right) and Frank Tiano show off a couple of Bob’s latest Jet models.

Bob was also the first to incorporate a “Buy and Fly” model where only some light assembly work was necessary to get airborne. He won the Title Mr. Top Gun twice, in 2002 with his F-100 and in 2006 with his F-86 Sabre.

Bob also authored several articles relating to construction techniques and developments in his own publication “Inlet.” Originally from Maryland, he acted in the capacity of directing contests in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. Recognizing Bob for all his involvement dedication in the RC Industry, the Academy of Model Aeronautics inducted him, in 1996, into the Model Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2018, Bob was also an Inductee into the National Miniature Pylon Racing Association (NMPRA) Hall of Fame.

We at Model Airplane News offer our sincere condolences to Bob’s family and to all who knew him as a friend. Our hobby has lost a giant who’s inspiration  touched us all. The world is just a bit smaller without him.

Updated: March 22, 2020 — 3:02 PM


  1. Conocí a Bob en 1994,lo visité en Winter Spring. Fui acompañado por Jorge Herrera y el desaparecido Enrique Daza.

  2. A few years ago, Bob was in northern Indiana at a local jet show. I had no idea who the flyer was with a great e-jet F-86. My jets are smaller. I have an aero engineering education and knew there was something basically different with his. No one else was around so I struck up a conversation and soon Bob was opening the interior and revealing the “magic”. He was the typical senior modeler who knew how to share.
    I added his fan inlet diffuser to my small F-18. What speed and sound improvements. The fan rpm increase passed the red line and in flight there was a bang and all the fan blades went out the tailpipe. The Hornet is a good glider.
    Yes, Bob, I’m sharing with others.

  3. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Bob Violet. My father, William “Bill” Hinnant and Bob were good friends for many years. As a boy, I went to many different pattern contests across the country where we would run into Bob and his family. Like Bob, my father was deeply interested in the hobby as a contestant and a manufacturer. Dad used to always remark what an incredible man Bob Violet was and what an incredible builder. His planes were always amazing flyers with beautiful surfaces. I think Bob really became a standout in the hobby and my father really admired the man. RIP Bob Violet. Thanks for being my dads buddy.

  4. May the good lord be with him forever, great man. 1993 I went to Florida to buy a ducted fan F16.
    From portugal
    Rest In Peace

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