Washington, DC, Oct. 25, 2016 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today reflected on the passing of Robert A. (Bob) Hoover, an aviation legend and long-standing advocate for business aviation.
“Bob Hoover has been a source of awe and inspiration, who has provided a shared connection for generations of aviation enthusiasts,” Bolen said. “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.
“The boldness and grace of Bob Hoover the pilot was matched only by the humility and graciousness of Bob Hoover the human being,” Bolen continued. “He was simply the best. Our aviation community has been fortunate to have such an extraordinary person with us for so many decades.”
Hoover was born in Nashville, TN, on Jan. 24, 1922, and learned to fly at Nashville’s Berry Field. He served as a combat aviator during World War II, then flew as a military and civilian test pilot before becoming a renowned air show performer. Recognized by his signature wide-brimmed straw hat, Hoover is often referred to as “the pilots’ pilot.” Jimmy Doolittle, a fellow aviation pioneer, called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”
During World War II, Hoover was shot down during a combat mission and spent 16 months as a prisoner of war before escaping by commandeering a German fighter aircraft. Upon returning to the United States, he evaluated captured enemy aircraft and flight-tested U.S. combat airplanes, including the first jets. As an alternate pilot for the supersonic Bell X-1, Hoover flew the chase plane when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. During his military career, Hoover’s citations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit and the Prisoner of War Medal, among others.
After leaving the Air Force in 1948, Hoover became a civilian test pilot, working for North American Aviation and Rockwell International for more than three decades. Considered a founder of modern aerobatics, Hoover, who piloted more than 300 types of aircraft, is best known for his jaw-dropping aerial demonstrations in his Shrike Commander and famous yellow P-51 Mustang.
Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988, Hoover regularly attended NBAA’s annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, where he joined other legendary aviators in presenting the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s Combs Gates Award, which is named for business aviation leaders Harry Combs and John Gates, and recognizes aviation history, research and preservation efforts.
During NBAA’s 2010 convention, Hoover was among several business aviators presented with Wright Brothers Master Pilot Certificates from the FAA. Also recognized in the ceremony that year were Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Clay Lacy, Russ Meyer and Arnold Palmer.
In 2014, Hoover received NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, the organization’s highest honor, at the association’s 2014 convention in Orlando, FL. convention in Orlando, FL. That same year, he was awarded the Wright Brothers Memorial trophy.
In 2015, a documentary film titled “Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project” was recognized with the Combs Gates Award during NBAA’s convention that year.
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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 11,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.
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