October 26, 2016

Aviation Loses a Legend: This might have only a tangential relation to sports, but Bob Hoover's long time promotion of the Reno Air Races and his former captaincy on the US Aerobatic Team should qualify. Bob Hoover died on October 25 at the age of 94. He was a former Naval aviator, aerobatic performer, and corporate test pilot for North American Aviation. One of his "signature" performances was his demonstration of the capabilities of the North American "Shrike" Commander, a variant of the twin turboprop corporate Aero Commander business aircraft. He would take the aircraft through a series of maneuvers, and for the climax he would kill both engines, feather the props, execute a full loop, and land the aircraft precisely "on the numbers" (that is, the numbers at the end of the runway). His skills were unmatched. My working life was spent for the most part being in, on, under, and generally around aircraft, and Mr. Hoover was one of the giants I respected greatly.

posted by Howard_T to other at 04:17 PM - 3 comments

It's for articles like this, that I'd never find myself, that I most enjoy about SportsFilter.

Thank you, Howard.

posted by tommytrump at 09:12 PM on October 26

I had read a couple of obits about Hoover, and I was so struck by the universal admiration for his pure flying ability. Among fellow aviators of multiple generations - biplane guys, WW II guys, jet fighter guys, etc. They all thought he was the best.

posted by beaverboard at 07:29 AM on October 27

Hoover was 94, my dad is 84, and a long time fighter pilot. Like virtually all of his contemporaries, whether Air Force or Navy, my father idolized Hoover as both a pilot and a human being. My dad was lucky enough to meet Hoover twice, the meetings separated by almost 50 years:

The first meeting was on an Air Force base in Brownsville, Texas in the mid- 60's. Dad, a young-ish F-100 pilot, had just arrived at the urinal in the officers' chow hall when Hoover, already a legend, sidled up next to him, nearly causing him to miss his target when he realized that he was about to pee next to the great Bob Hoover. When business was complete, dad extended his hand to Hoover and told him how much he admired him. In response, Hoover smiled, turned and washed his hands, and stood politely while my father did the same before accepting the invitation to shake. The two had a brief, but nice, chat about their careers at greater than the speed of sound.

More than 50 years later, dad got to meet Hoover again. Living in northern Nevada, the Reno air races are an annual outing for us, and Hoover was known to travel in VIP circles around the races. In 2013 or 2014, dad ran into Hoover again in the pit area of the races. Even in his 90's Hoover was energetic and congenial. Dad re-introduced himself to Hoover, and recounted the tale of their first meeting in Brownsville. Hoover laughed and said that it sounded familiar before posing for a picture with dad and going their separate ways.

Just knowing how much my father, a man I greatly admire, genuinely idolized Hoover is enough to tell me how important he was to aviation and American military pilots in general.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:04 PM on October 27

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