VIDEO: Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Bob Harvey Set To Assume Seat On Port Canaveral Commission
By Maria Sonnenberg // November 5, 2016
WILL embrace and work with local communities
ABOVE VIDEO: Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Bob Harvey is set to take over the Canaveral Port Authority District 4 Seat. Col. Harvey has devoted his life to serving his country.
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Retired Air Force Colonel Robert “Bob” Harvey, the epitome of grace under fire, was once ejected over the South Carolina skies from an F-16 fighter jet with a design flaw.
Even though badly bruised, Harvey just took a couple of days over a holiday weekend to recuperate from the ordeal before heading back to work.
That’s not the half of it, either, since while piloting another F-16, this time over Turkey, the engine completely conked out on Harvey, for all intents immediately making the beefy aircraft into one unwieldy glider.
Harvey is one of only a handful of pilots in the world to successfully maneuver an engine-less F-16 back to earth.
“It was akin to seven miracles rolled into one,” said Harvey, who now has a much safer gig as a pilot of an Airbus 320 for Allegiant Air.
Harvey may attribute the safe landing to divine intervention, but his clear thinking and judicious actions were critical components, too.
As the new District 4 Port Commissioner, a position which he won over Bruce Deardoff last August, Harvey should have no trouble navigating any possible turbulence in guiding the development of one of America’s busiest and fastest growing ports.
Born in California and raised in rural Oregon, Harvey enlisted in the Army at 18.
“I worked my way up to helicopter pilot,” he said.
His Army duty done, Harvey continued flying UH-1 helicopters, this time to fight forest fires, while he attended night school. He went back into military service, choosing the Air Force in this go-round.
“I started at the bottom,” he said.
He worked his way up quickly, going through the USAF Fighter Weapons School and becoming a fighter pilot of F-16s, with 3,100 hours, including 160 combat hours, on those aircraft.
Harvey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor, a Bronze Star, five Air Force medals, two Legion of Merit decorations, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Air Force Koren Kolligian Trophy for the most outstanding achievement in U.S. Air Force aviation safety (his amazing landing of the engine-out F-16 over Turkey earned him that distinction).
By the time he retired with a colonel’s rank, Harvey had logged more than 5,700 flight hours.
During his Air Force service, Harvey was responsible for airfield operations in Phoenix and Arizona, and overseas in Korea and Japan.
His duties included full responsibility for all aspects of airfield operations, including safety, quality assurance, crew scheduling, maintenance and budgeting. That experience in logistics should serve him well were he to win the Port commissioner’s job.
This National Defense Fellow served as analyst on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and as senior air advisor to the Army commander during the war in Iraq. His last active duty assignment, as chief of standardization and evaluation for the U.S. Central Command Air Forces and 9th. Air Force, carried the responsibility of assessment of 38 flying units at ten bases throughout the Southwest Asian Central Command Area.
Retirement from military service arrived in 2009, and Harvey addressed the civilian chapter of his career by joining Atom Airways in Melbourne as director of business development and safety. He was also vice president of plans and development for AAR Airlift Group in Palm Bay.
His current day job, based out of Orlando Sanford Airport, allows him the luxury of coming home to his Cocoa Village condo every evening, a fact Connie highly appreciates.
After 33 years of military service, and the migratory lifestyle that accompanies it, the Harveys embraced Brevard with open arms when they moved here in 2011. As has been their modus operandi throughout the marriage, the couple became immersed in the community.
“As soon as Connie and I touch down somewhere, we get active,” said Harvey, who has served on the board of directors of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce of Commerce, PREVENT! Of Brevard and on the City of Cocoa’s Brownfield’s Advisory Council.
Connie also works with the American Red Cross on a national level to raise awareness of water and swimming safety.
“We love our Brevard community and have made it our forever home,” said Harvey.
In fact, Harvey has written the book about his beloved Cocoa. “Cocoa, Florida, A History,” is his well-researched celebration of this singular town.
“I drove all over town for my research and talked with many of the older residents to get a sense of the city,” said Harvey.
“I love history. You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
He is also the author of “The Whole Truth: The Tainted Prosecution of an American Fighter Pilot,” the story of his friend’s wrongful military court martial conviction. Harvey played a pivotal role in the case, successfully lobbying the Air Force to overturn the case.
“I knew for a fact that he was wrongfully accused and convicted,” he said.
Although he is way too young to be a member of the Greatest Generation, he shares the philosophy of service of that era. When several community leaders encouraged him to run for port commissioner, he decided to throw his pilot’s visor into the ring.
“We need to address the issue of transparency and the lack of trust between the community and the Port,” he said.
“I believe the Port Authority should embrace and work with local communities. I will do my utmost to ensure the Port Authority abides by its charter and truly serves our community. I love where I live and this is another opportunity to serve.”