RIP: Bob Hoover
Bob Hoover died last night, age 94.
One of the best pilots ever, he flew "chase" for Chuck Yeager on 14 October 1947. Two years earlier, he'd escaped from POW camp and got out of Germany by stealing an Fw-190 and flying it to Holland, where he was mistaken for a German by the Dutch farmers when he crash landed, and was saved at the the last minute by British troops.
Bob was legendary for his aerobatics routines, particularly in the Shrike Commander. He'd do an entire routine with both engines on, then turn off the right and do it again, exactly the same, then switch engines and do it again, exactly the same, then turn off both and do it again, exactly the same, then land dead-stick and roll up to the exact spot where he'd started up from. I remember watching him do it for the third day in a row, exactly the same, and a guy nearby commented "he just does the same thing all the time," to which the pilots around him all replied, "Right! That's hard!"
Not only was he a great pilot, he was a legendary character. Being up at Reno in the 70s and 80s and partying with his crowd was always the best.