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Tom Cleaver
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RIP: Bob Hoover

October 25, 2016 · in Aviation · · 17 · 1.7K

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.

Reader reactions:
7  Awesome

17 responses

  1. Great character. Not many opportunities now to 'express the difference'.

    Thanks for posting.

  2. A true testament to the spirit of the Greatest Generation! RIP

  3. A great one, I remember revell's issue of his yellow P-51.

  4. Sad to hear...I'd seen him perform years ago. Fly free now, Bob.

  5. Very sad, He was one of the great aviators of our life time. Rest in peace Bob.

  6. Sounds like a real character for sure. Not many of the greats left sadly. RIP

  7. man of great accomplishments...

  8. I got to see him fly in an air-show once in Medford Oregon many years ago, how sad. A great pilot an American. Rest in Peace.

  9. RIP Bob Hoover, an incredible pilot for sure. Caught his act with the yellow P-51 and Shrike Commander in Cleveland in the 80's. All you could say about it was wow.

  10. Nice post Tom - a great gentleman and pilot

  11. RIP Mr Hoover. An extrodinary life for an extrodinary gent. Nice words Tom.

  12. I can remember as a teen watching him perform his routine in the Shrike and I was awestruck to see not one, but BOTH props standing still. Then his yellow Mustang aerobatics were something to behold. I distinctly remember my Dad telling me, "Now THAT's a PILOT !"
    He will be missed.

  13. Thanks for posting Tom. Hadn't picked up on this till I saw your post.

    Saw him perform once Down Under. An amazing guy and brilliant pilot.

  14. R.I.P. - I wish I could've seen him. Such talent! I love the fact that Chuck Yeager busted Mach again, 50 some years after the 1st time. And Bob Hoover was also right there flying chase. Awesome! (however, I believe both were in an F-15 this time. HaHa! A little easier the 2nd time, right?!)

  15. I had the rare oportunity do meet Mr. Bob Hoover in OSH 2014. A quick conversation, but he was very kind and attentive.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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