r.a. "Bob" hoover
Robert Anderson “Bob” Hoover (January 24, 1922 – October 25, 2016) was a United States Army Air Forces fighter pilot, USAF and civilian test pilot, flight instructor, air show pilot, and aviation record-setter. Known as the “pilot’s pilot”, Hoover revolutionized modern aerobatic flying and in many aviation circles has been described as one of the greatest pilots ever to have lived.
Hoover learned to fly at Nashville’s Berry Field while working at a local grocery store to pay for the flight training. After graduation from Isaac Litton High School in East Nashville he enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard and was sent for pilot training with the Army and served as a fighter pilot in the Mediterranean theater, shooting down a FW-190 before being shot down and captured, remaining a POW in Stalag 1 until almost the end of the war in Europe.
After the war he and Chuck Yeager were test pilots together at the Air Technical Service Command at Ohio’s Wright Field. He was the initial selection to be the first pilot to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 but became Chuck Yeager’s backup in the program and flew chase for Yeager in a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star during the Mach 1 flight.
Hoover left the Air Force for civilian jobs in 1948. After a brief time with Allison Engine Company, he worked as a experimental test pilot/demonstration pilot with North American Aviation, While there, he developed a dive- bombing technique for the F-86 Sabre and traveled to Korea to demonstrate and teach the maneuver for pilots flying combat missions in the Korean War. During his six weeks in Korea, Hoover flew many combat bombing missions over enemy territory, but was denied permission to engage in air-to-air combat flights.
North American eventually sent him to US Navy Test Pilot School and he began performing carrier tests. Hoover flew flight tests on the FJ-2 Fury, F-86 Sabre, and the F-100 Super Sabre.
In the early 1960s, Hoover began flying the North American P-51 Mustang at air shows around the country but was best known for his civil air show career demonstrating the capabilities of Aero Commander’s Shrike Commander, a twin piston-engine business aircraft that had developed a staid reputation due to its bulky shape. Hoover showed the strength of the plane as he put the aircraft through rolls, loops, and other maneuvers, which most people would not associate with executive aircraft. As a grand finale, he would shut down both engines and execute a loop and an eight-point hesitation slow roll as he headed back to the runway. Upon landing he would touch down on one tire followed gradually by the other. After pulling off the runway, he would restart the engines to taxi back to the parking area. On airfields with large enough parking ramps, such as the Reno Stead Airport, where the Reno Air Races take place, Hoover would sometimes land directly on the ramp and coast all the way back to his parking spot in front of the grandstand without restarting the engines.
For More information on Bob Hoover click on the picture of Bob at the left which will lead you to "Testimony of Pilot #9"
Written By Kathleen Bangs
By age 19, Kathleen Bangs was already a flight instructor for one of the world’s top aviation programs. She has spent a career passionately involved in all facets of aerospace, with a particular dedication to aviation safety. She’s a rated Airline Transport Pilot and former commercial airline pilot, airline training instructor and check airman, with over 10,000 hours of flight time spent flying aircraft ranging from large wide-body passenger jets to amphibious seaplanes. Kathleen is an award winning aviation writer and journalist whose work has appeared in leading industry magazines and newspapers. In addition to flying and training pilots, she’s also led a number of creative marketing and public relations programs to support a variety of top aviation industry manufacturers.