Robert Pratt has worked for only two companies in his 34-year professional life: Purdue Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Immediately following graduation, he began his piloting career at his alma mater’s airline, which ceased operations in 1971. Looking back, he knows his first job put him in the right place at the right time for a great professional opportunity.
In 1971, a new airline was introduced — Southwest Airlines — serving three cities in Texas. Bob joined the venture on the proverbial ground floor and flourished as his employer became one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. Southwest now annually serves more than 82 million passengers landing in 62 cities in 32 states.
His long career was the culmination of his childhood dreams of flying. Bob chose Purdue because “it was the best program available anywhere,” he says. In addition, he remembers professor emeritus Charles Holleman as being supportive and dedicated.
In retirement, he plans to continue his support of the growth of the aviation technology program. He also enjoys boating and finds time to work on car and aircraft restoration projects.
He and his wife, J. C., reside in Punta Gorda, Florida.
This was originally written for the Distinguished Technology Alumni Awards in 2007.