Famed air show pilot Robert A. “Bob” Hoover has been chosen to receive the 2014 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, one of aviation’s most prestigious awards. The trophy is awarded annually to a living American for “significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced Hoover’s selection Sept. 25.
“There are very few people in the world that capture the history, progress, importance and sheer excitement of aviation and aerospace like Bob Hoover,” said NAA Chairman Jim Albaugh. “For 70 years, he has set the standard for skill, leadership and bravery which may last forever.”
NAA called Hoover, 92, “a living bridge from the origins of flight and space travel to the present,” having known such industry giants as Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong. Doolittle called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”
During World War II, Hoover flew 58 successful missions before being shot down and captured by the Germans. After spending 16 months as a prisoner of war, he escaped by commandeering a German fighter. He later served as a military and civilian test pilot.
“But it was Hoover’s exceptional skill and precision as the world’s greatest air show pilot that made him an inspiration and example to pilots around the world,” NAA said. “In over 50 years of flying, he is believed to have performed in more air shows, in more types of aircraft, in more countries and before more spectators than any other pilot in the history of aviation.”
Performing in his Rockwell Shrike Commander, he thrilled audiences as he “swooped, rolled, looped and finally maneuvered the aircraft to a landing with no engines running,” NAA said. The aircraft is now displayed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
NAA plans to hold a dinner in Hoover’s honor on Dec. 12 in Washington, DC.
News of the award comes as NBAA prepares to honor Hoover at the 2014 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2014), which runs Oct. 21 to 23 in Orlando, FL. Hoover will receive NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award.
First presented in 1950, the NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation is one of the aviation industry’s most prestigious honors. Candidates for the award must be individuals who, by virtue of a lifetime of personal dedication, have made significant identifiable contributions that have materially advanced aviation interests. Previous Meritorious Service to Aviation Award winners include Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle and Bill Lear.
Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988, Hoover regularly attends NBAA’s annual convention, where he joins 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.
Source: www.nbaa.org; October 7, 2014.