Robert M. "Mitch" Grundman
Robert “Mitch” Grundman was born in Vincennes, Indiana in 1946. Flying came to him early when he soloed at 18, earning his private pilot certificate seven months later.
Flying became Mitch’s passion and career when he attended Purdue University to earn a degree in Aviation Technology. After obtaining graduation, Mitch became a flight instructor with Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology, beginning a 46-year commitment to Purdue aviation. He instructed thousands of aspiring aviators in flight, ground, and simulator instruction. He served as the Chief Flight Instructor for 18 years and held the prestigious Federal Aviation Administration Gold Seal Instructor rating for 40 years. In recognition of his outstanding education career, Purdue’s Aviation Technology Department established the “Mitch Grundman Flight Instructor-of-the-Month Award.”
Mitch also had the distinction of being named the first FAA Designated Pilot Examiner in Indiana, testing pilots for licenses and certificates of all kinds for over 40 years.
Besides teaching, instructing, and testing pilots, Mitch also flew the Purdue staff transportation planes throughout the lower 48 states on flights which let meet hundreds of Purdue educators, staff, and administrators. Mitch was also a mentor, advisor, and counselor to many students and future pilots, also serving as faculty advisor for Purdue’s Fowler and Hillenbrand Halls.
While Mitch projected a gruff exterior, but he had a heart of pure gold. Discussions with graduates of Purdue’s professional pilot program almost always include remembrances of “Professor Grundman”. The generosity and kindness Mitch gave to students and faculty members alike, always without fanfare, had a lasting impact on their lives.
Mitch accumulated over 21,000 hours in his career in hundreds of aircraft types. He flew part-time for corporations and an Indianapolis charter company. In 2014, the FAA presented the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Mitch in recognition of his 50 years of professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise.
Mitch’s enduring contribution to Indiana aviation was inspiring and educating thousands of pilots and flight instructors in his classes and flying. The impact of his career is seen in the thousands of Purdue students who fly airliners, corporate jets, and private aircraft around the world.
Mitch continued to solidify his place in Indiana aviation history by serving as an original director of the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.
For his enduring and significant contributions to aviation education and service to Purdue University and the inspiration and instruction he provided to generations of pilots around the country, Robert “Mitch” Grundman is inducted into the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.