Bob Hoover, whose extraordinary aviation life included flying in World War II, test-flying for the Air Force and performing a unique airshow act demonstrating the laws of aerodynamics with a twin Shrike Commander, died this morning at age 94. Hoover was widely regarded as “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived,” as Jimmy Doolittle described him. During his long career, he won a long list of awards and honors, including the National Aeronautic Association’s Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, the Living Legends of Aviation Freedom of Flight Award, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Croix de Guerre and many more.
“We lost a true, one-of-a-kind aviation hero today,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “We all knew of Bob’s incredible aviation career and witnessed his unmatched flying skills. It was Bob Hoover as a person that also made him legendary. He was a true gentleman and unfailingly gracious and generous, as well as a true friend of EAA through the years. We can only hope to use his lifelong example as a pilot and a person as a standard for all of us to achieve.”
“Bob Hoover has been a source of awe and inspiration,” said Ed Bolen, president of NBAA. “He was a national treasure, who was respected and beloved by history’s most significant aviation figures, and the millions who saw his air show performances or heard him speak… He was simply the best. Our aviation community has been fortunate to have such an extraordinary person with us for so many decades.”
Mark Baker, president of AOPA, said, “Bob Hoover brought great richness to the aviation experience, and he leaves behind a legacy of heroic caring and sharing with the general aviation community. He will be deeply missed. … Bob Hoover was so much more than a great pilot. He was a great man and a model for what our community can and should be.”
Other aviation groups expressed similar sentiments throughout the day.