|Bob Hoover waves to the crowd after performing in the Shrike Commander in Oshkosh.
PHOTO BY JIM KOEPNICK
On Tuesday, July 26, EAA will honor a man who’s often been called the “pilot’s pilot,” Robert A. “Bob” Hoover, with a special Tribute to Bob Hoover Day.
Hoover, EAA 21285, was one of the most popular and successful air show performers on the circuit. He also performed heroic service in World War II and was an accomplished test and corporate pilot.
Inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988, Hoover is best known for his air show performances in a Shrike Commander and P-51 Mustang. On his 59th mission during World War II, Hoover was shot down and captured while flying a Spitfire. But he was able to escape from Stalag Luft 1, commandeer a German Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and fly to safety in the Netherlands.
The air show on EAA’s Tribute to Bob Hoover Day will include many of the legendary aircraft he made famous, like the Fw 190, F-86 Sabrejet, P-51 Mustang, Shrike Commander, and Sabreliner jet.
Hoover will also appear at two Warbirds in Review sessions: Tuesday at 10 a.m. with the P-51 Ole Yeller and Friday with two Fw 190s, one the new-build Flug Werk FW 190 owned by Dan Kirkland and the other owned by Rudy Frasca.
“We are honored to pay tribute to one of the greatest aviators in history, Bob Hoover,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA and AirVenture chairman. “Bob has been a fixture at our convention for decades. Everyone marvels at the aircraft and maneuvers synonymous with Bob, and will enjoy hearing about his experiences firsthand.”
After escaping in the Fw 190 in April 1945, Hoover returned to the United States and enrolled in test pilot school. He flew a variety of aircraft, from the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star to the Northrop N9M flying wing.
Hoover, who was the official starter at the Reno National Championship Air Races for three decades, began working for North American Aviation in 1950, where he tested and demonstrated the company’s civil and military aircraft. When the company merged with Rockwell International in 1968, he began demonstrating the strength of the Shrike Commander twin-engine business aircraft, putting it through rolls, loops, and other maneuvers usually not associated with executive aircraft.
Also in his Shrike Commander routine, Hoover performed aerobatics with the engines stopped. For the grand finale, he shut down both engines, then executed a loop and an eight-point hesitation slow roll as he headed back to the runway, where he touched down on one tire, then the other, during landing. Hoover later added to his legend by pouring a cup of tea without it spilling while performing a slow barrel roll.
In 1993, Hoover had his medical certificate pulled by the FAA, beginning a three-year fight against the FAA’s emergency revocation power. EAA joined Hoover in questioning the FAA’s authority without due process, leading to his reinstatement in 1995. EAA’s efforts helped result in Congress passing the “Hoover Bill” in 2000, giving an FAA certificate holder the right to immediately appeal an emergency certificate revocation to the NTSB.