Robert Joseph Durant was born on July 7, 1938, in Akron, Ohio, to Ronald Joseph and Mary Linnane Durant.
After the U.S. Navy, Durant joined Pan American World Airways in 1967, flying six different types of airliners for Pan Am, primarily on international routes serving as navigator, flight engineer, copilot and captain. He was also a flight operations manager for two-and-a-half years supervising 1100 pilots and flight engineers. Durant moved from Pan Am (after they went out of business) to Delta Airlines in 1991, where he flew until his retirement at 60 years of age, in 1998. He continued to serve as President of the Pan Am Pilots' Retirement Foundation, Inc. for several years.
Durant was a licensed ham radio operator (Call Sign KC2FXH), proficient in Morse code.