March 21, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
This month The Wings Club, a global society of aviation professionals and the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) is honoring Mr. Robert “Bob” Hoover. Hoover has done it all. He was a pilot in WWII, a U.S. Air Force test pilot, world record holder and most recognized as an accomplished civil air show pilot. The groups will be honoring him with the Outstanding Aviator Award.
Hoover is known as one of the founding fathers of aerobatics. He got his start in aviation by enrolling in the Tennessee National Guard, who sent him to pilot training with the U.S. Army. His first assignment as a new pilot was to test flying assembled aircraft before they were released to service. Later Hoover was assigned to fly the Spitfire and was shot down over Germany. He spent 16 months in a German prison camp until he escaped and amazingly found his freedom when stole a FW 190 and flew to safety in the Netherlands.
Hoover has known such aviation greats such as Orville Wright, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Jacqueline Cochran, Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin. Hoover also holds the record for transcontinental and “time to climb” speed.
After the war Hoover was assigned as an U.S. Air Force test-flight pilot at Wright Field. There he met Chuck Yeager and was part of Yeager’s flight crew. He flew the chase plane for Yeager’s flight in the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star and was Yeager’s back-up pilot for the Bell X-1. He was a test pilot in the FJ Fury, F-86, and F-100 Supersabre.
Air Show Demonstrator
During the 1960s Hoover proposed that he fly the P-51 fighters at air shows. Hoover demonstrated the P-51, nicknamed “Ole Yeller” and later started flying the trade mark plane, the Aero Commander Shrike Commander. Hoover was able to perform all sorts of aerobatic maneuvers in this relatively bulky looking twin piston-engine business plane. He was able to put the plane through loops and rolls. As a grand finale, he shut down both engines and executed a loop and an eight-point hesitation slow roll as he headed back to the runway. One of Hoover’s signature stunts was to do a complete barrel roll in the Commander, while pouring a glass of ice tea from a pitcher. Hoover was the official starter at the Reno
Air Races flying ‘”Ole Yeller” as the pace plane. To start the race, he would pull into a vertical climb and blast over the radio “Gentlemen, you have a race!” Hoover retired from the air show circuit in the 1990s and his Shrike Commander is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
During his illustrious career, he was awarded the following military medals: Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier’s Medal for Valor, Air Medal with Clusters, Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre. He was also made an honorary member of the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, RCAF Snowbirds, American Fighter Aces Association, Original Eagle squadron and received an Award of Merit from the American Fighter Pilots Association. In 1992, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor. In 2007, he received the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy.
The Wings Club, founded in 1942, is the premiere aviation club in the world. Dedicated to preserve the history and traditions of aviation, the Club provides a forum for discussion and debate on aeronautical and aviation issues. Previous recipients of this award were Patty Wagstaff, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) and the Doolittle Raiders.
Angel MedFlight congratulates Mr. Hoover for all his accomplishments in aviation and for being awarded the Aviator Award.