Bob Hoover celebrates 85th birthday

Bob Hoover turned 85 on Jan. 24.

He has been called a “living legend,” “a magician in the cockpit” — even “the greatest stick-and-rudder pilot who ever lived.” Hoover may actually deserve all that fulsome praise, for his has been a life of doing wonderful, almost magical things with airplanes, not only thrilling a great many pilots – not to mention groundlings – but increasingly showing others how he does that stuff of legend.

Hoover has spent roughly 65 years building experience at some of the most varied and exciting flying imaginable. He might have been just as happy to miss some of his more challenging World War II experiences, but they still make great stories, and Hoover knows how to tell a story. These days, retired from his spectacular air show performances, his Aero Commander Shrike at the National Air & Space Museum, Hoover is preaching safety to the current generation of pilots.

A firm believer in upset recovery and unusual attitude training, he often states that every pilot should have at least basic aerobatic experience. Even more important, he tells us, is planning ahead, preparing ourselves to recover quickly from situations that could kill us.

“There will be times when you’ll save your life by being properly prepared and ready to react,” he lectures.

When Bob Hoover offers advice, the wise pilot listens. Hoover has devoted a long life to the excellence of his flying. If he could tell us all that he has learned, we’d be much better pilots – although probably not “magicians in the cockpit.” That’s for living legends.

Happy birthday, Bob. Fair winds and blue skies to your 100th.

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