Found out last night that Bob Hoover, famed test pilot, airshow pilot, and WWII/Korean War fighter pilot passed away Tuesday at the age od 94. Bob Hoover was flying one of the chase planes behind Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier in the X-1. He also escaped a Nazi POW camp and flew to safety in a stolen German fighter. He thrilled the crowds flying his twin engine Shrike in which he would shut off the engines and still perform many maneuvers including loops and rolls with the plane "Dead Stick". I am proud to say I have met this man and seen him fly. A true hero. RIP Bob Hoover.
I just read his book last week "Forever Flying". Bob was a fascinating person and one of our nations best. He was a true ambassador to aviation and has left a void that won't likely be filled in our lifetimes.
This is Model T related, in his book Bob mentioned buying a Model T as a kid for $8 or something. Stripped the body off and drove the stew out of it. He said he used to like to see how high he could get it. His parents put the kibosh on that and he turned his attention towards airplanes. Took lessons without his parents knowing and soloed by 16 years of age with money he made at a part time job.
Bob had his piston Commander and office in the same hangar with me when I worked in Long Beach, California. Sometimes it would come taxiing in with 5606 all over the top of the empennage and dripping out of the boiler room door because he liked to come in on final inverted, then flip to right side up at the last minute before hitting the runway.
He was just a real nice guy in person. Very polite, kind of quiet. It really killed him when he lost his medical in the late 90's but then he got it back again.
We are losing are WW2 and Korea area vets at an alarming rate. It's estimated that there will not be any WW2 vets left in two years and Korean area vets will be all gone with in 5 to 10 years. If you happen to know a WW2 vet talk to them. It doesn't need to be about their military life but rather things they saw and did as kids. It would amaze you some of the things they saw and did. If they don't mind sharing their history get all you can.
I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Hoover at the Salinas airshow in the early 2000's. After his flight he parked his Aero Commander next to the public area so he could greet the air show guests.
My son was about 9 or 10 at the time. My Hoover leaned over and shook his hand then asked him if he wanted to sit at the controls. My son was just thrilled to do so. Mr Hoover treated my son like he was his best friend. What a gentleman!
What a great American. He was an outstanding member of the Greatest Generation and contributed so much.
The vidoe at:
gives a great summary of his accomplishments. You may need to scroll down just a little to see the video screen. And it is a great encouragement to anyone -- that if you want to do something and are willing to work hard at it, it is amazing what you can get done.
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I was also lucky enough to meet Bob Hoover. Unlike some who achieve his level of fame, he seemed to remain a genuinely kind and humble man.
No tribute to Hoover is complete without a link to this clip of his remarkable skill:
I saw many of his airshow performances. I'm not sure the non-pilots in the audience truly appreciated how difficult the exacting precision with which he flew is to achieve, but the aviators in the audience surely did. In one show the cloud ceilings were really much too low to fly legally at aerobatic altitudes, but Hoover would not let the crowd go home disappointed. He flew the famous routine Hal referenced at much lower than the usual altitude, with the top half of the aerobatics in the clouds. The part we could see was as precisely flown as if he was doing it in clear weather.
Wow, Absolutely amazing videos. He must have known to the very second what the limits of his plan were. I can't imagine how long he must have studied and trained to get every maneuver perfit. His aeronautical know how must have been vast.