Bob Hoover, the best stick and rudder man in the world
Demonstrating the joy of being really good at what you do!
Before I get to the subject matter, just another word from me about the Posts being published on Learning from Dogs just now. As I mentioned earlier, I’m presently away from home and back in England for as long as it takes to complete all the necessary procedures at the US Embassy in London. All part of me being allowed to become a resident of Payson, Arizona and the husband to my lovely Jeannie.
Anyway, I’m posting items that catch my eye and don’t require the normal amount of time to prepare and write, simply because to have a new Post every day means keeping the pipeline going to cover the times when I shall be in darkest Devon and away from internet coverage! Trust I have your support during this period – I just love seeing so many readers of the Blog!
OK, to the article.
Bob Hoover is well known to many besides pilots because for years he has demonstrated the huge skill in managing the energy of a flying aircraft – with both engines stopped.
Thanks to Peter Kelsey, a Facebook contact, who recently posted a YouTube video of Bob flying his famous display. But more about the man. Here’s an extract from Wikipedia:
Robert A. “Bob” Hoover (born January 24, 1922) is a former air show pilot andUnited States Air Force test pilot, known for his wide-brimmed straw hat and wide smile. In aviation circles, he is often referred to as “The pilots’ pilot.”
Bob Hoover learned to fly at Nashville‘s Berry Field while working at a local grocery store to pay for the flight training. He enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard and was sent for pilot training with the Army. He was sent to Casablanca where his first major assignment of the war was test flying the assembled aircraft ready for service. He was later assigned to the Spitfire-equipped 52nd Fighter Group in Sicily. In 1944, on his 59th mission, his malfunctioning Mark V Spitfire was shot down by a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 off the coast of Southern France and he was taken prisoner. He spent 16 months at the German prison camp Stalag Luft 1 in Barth,Germany.
He managed to escape from the prison camp, stole an Fw 190, and flew to safety in the Netherlands. After the war, he was assigned to flight-test duty at Wright Field. There he impressed and befriended Chuck Yeager. Later when Yeager was asked who he wanted for flight crew for the supersonic Bell X-1 flight, he named Bob Hoover. Hoover was Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program and flew chase for Yeager in a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star during the Mach 1 flight. He also flew chase for the 50th anniversary in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
What Bob shows is that true professionalism, in whatever one does, work or play, always comes over as an underplayed, understated skill. Just look at this video for proof of that:
Well over 1,700,000 viewings at the time of writing this Post!
Remember Gordo Cooper in the film “The Right Stuff” poses the question, “Who’s the greatest pilot you ever saw?” Most pilots of all sorts would elect Bob Hoover for that honorable position.
The Smithsonian seem to agree as well. If you can, settle back and watch Bob Hoover’s talk at the 2010 Smithsonian Charles A Lindberg lecture. The video at that link is a long one and Bob doesn’t come on stage until minute 20.
But the flying scenes in the introduction include some historic footage and the talk by Bob Hoover, now nearly 90, is just wonderful. That link also includes the following summary of Bob Hoover:
Robert A. “Bob” Hoover is a fighter, military, and civilian test and air show pilot of legendary proportions. Using his superb piloting skills to fly aircraft to the edge of their performance capabilities, Hoover has left an indelible mark in aviation history. During his Air Force and North American Aviation careers, he flew 58 combat missions (and as a WWII POW flew himself to freedom), served as back-up pilot on the Bell X-1 and tested a wide array of fighter aircraft. As an ambassador of aviation, Hoover flew aerobatic routines in a North American P-51 Mustang, the T-39, and the Aero Commander fleet, culminating in the Shrike Commander 500S, at more than 2,500 civilian and military air shows. Bob Hoover will discuss his career in aviation and some of the pilots he has known including Orville Wright, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Jacqueline Cochran, Neil Armstrong, and Yuri Gagarin.
By Paul Handover