March 25, 2024

The 2024 R.A. “Bob” Hoover Award was given to aviation legend Russ Meyer, Jr., by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) on March 20, as part of the organization’s annual ceremony, in which several industry figures were honored for their contributions to the aviation community.

The Hoover Trophy – awarded to Meyer during an evening ceremony held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – recognizes aviators who best exemplify Hoover’s airmanship, leadership, mentorship and passion for aviation. Past recipients include Clay Lacy, Harrison Ford and other luminaries.

Meyer, who has been flying for almost 70 years, started his career in the military before joining Cessna Aircraft Company, ultimately becoming its chairman. He was instrumental in creating the original Cessna Citation, and in the formation of Cessna’s “Be a Pilot” program, which inspired tens of thousands of people to learn to fly. In his acceptance speech, Meyer emphasized the need to continue to encourage future generations of aviators.

In 1995, NBAA paid tribute to Meyer with the association’s own highest honor, the Meritorious Service to Aviation. He has also been awarded the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and the Collier Trophy (on two separate occasions; once jointly with Cessna). In 2009, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who was in attendance, noted Meyer’s legacy and enormous impact in the industry: Russ Meyer’s is one of the absolute giants of aviation,” Bolen said. “The profound impact he has had on policy, products and people is staggering. It is not only appropriate but wonderful for our industry to pay tribute to Bob Hoover and Russ Meyer, two legendary aviators, veterans, human beings and friends on a beautiful spring evening in the nation’s capital.”

AOPA honored other industry leaders for their contributions to safety, advocacy and leadership:

  • King Schools co-founders John and Martha King were awarded the Richard G. McSpadden General Aviation Safety Award for their pioneering work to educate pilots. The Kings also received the NBAA American Spirit Award in 2009 and Martha King served on NBAA’s Advisory Council from 2012-2018.
  • AOPA presented the Hartranft Award to Representative Sam Graves (R-6-MO) for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the aviation community’s interests. Graves, the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is a two-time recipient of the Hartranft Award. The congressman has been a featured speaker at several NBAA conventions.
  • The Sharples Award, which honors extraordinary contributions to general aviation, was awarded to John Dobson, the President of the Washington State Aviation Alliance and the Washington State Pilots Association.
  • Theresa Claiborne, who was the first African American female pilot for the U.S. Air Force, accepted the Brigadier General Charles McGee Aviation Inspiration Award. The award recognizes aviators who persevered through adversity and inspired others on their way to becoming pilots and leaders in the aviation industry.

Read more about the AOPA Hoover Awards.