Captain Robert Lee Bragg, aged 79, died in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on 9 February 2017 at Sentara RMH. He was born in Ward, Alabama, 14 September 1937, the son of William Branch Bragg and Sara Louise McDonald Bragg.
Captain Bragg graduated from U.M.S., a private military school, in Mobile, Alabama. After U.M.S., he attended Auburn University where he was a member of the Arnold Air Society, an R.O.T.C. Honorary society, and was the founder of the Pershing Rifles, another R.O.T.C military honorary society.
He graduated from Auburn University in 1959 with a degree in Aeronautical Administration and a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force, he flew the T-34, T-37, T-33, C-121C Constellations, and C-130E Hercules. After leaving the Air Force in 1964, he was employed by Pan American World Airways.
On 27 March 1977, while a first officer with Pan Am, Captain Bragg was in what is still known as the world’s worst commercial aviation accident in history at Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Captain Bragg’s B-747 was struck while on the runway by another B-747 belonging to KLM. In all, 583 individuals died on the day of the accident or shortly thereafter, For his efforts in assisting fellow crewmembers and passengers, Robert Bragg received the President’s Award for Heroism. He also received the FAA’s Achievement Award, the highest award that the FAA can bestow on a civilian pilot, and the Flight Safety Foundation’s Award for Actions during the Accident. In 1987, United Airlines purchased Pan American’s Pacific route structure and thereby acquired Captain Bragg’s services. Captain Bragg maintained a website on the Tenerife crash, http://www.tenerifecrash.com, and produced a DVD which assessed the interrelated factors associated with the crash.
During the time Captain Bragg flew for United, he operated in the capacity of Line Check Airman – instructing and qualifying new captains and first officers in the international operations of United. He also operated several of United Airline’s inaugural flights, such as the first flight from Miami to London, England, the first flight from Los Angeles to Frankfort, Germany, and the first flight from Los Angeles to Beijing, China. Additionally he flew the first military charter “Desert Storm” flights. Throughout his career, he accumulated over 35,000 flight hours and is rated on the following commercial aircraft: Lockheed L1011, Boeing 707 and 747, including the 100, 200, and 400 models .
Both before and after retirement, he worked as a consultant for ABC, CBS, NBC, and the BBC. Most recently he appeared in two documentaries shown on the History and Discovery channels. His articles on aviation have also appeared in international publications. At the time of his death, he was collaborating with his wife on several books, one of which is tentatively entitled Robert’s Rules of Aviation.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy A. Boyd-Bragg, Ph.D. They resided in McGaheysville, just outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia. All services will be private and his ashes will be buried at Hillside Cemetery, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania