January 18, 2009
Bob Hoover - America's Greatest Living Pilot?

Bob Hoover - America's Greatest Living Pilot?

It was a beautiful sunny day in California. I had gotten up real early that morning in Seattle, fighting snow and bitter cold to get to the airport on time. I had slept a little on the plane, so when I saw the sunshine, it really made me feel alive.
I rented a car and drove straight to Palos Verdes. It was about an hour from the airport, south and then straight up a large, very large hill. I made it to the top and could not believe the incredible views. It was a crystal clear morning, so you could see for probably a hundred miles.
I rang the bell and was met by a very tall, slender gentleman named Bob Hoover. I was there with Bob for the purpose of doing a video interview for the Legends of Aviation project for Airport Journals.
I set up my lights and high definition video camera, tripod, and sound equipment. There was a magnificent view out the back deck. On the inside walls were probably a hundred photos of very famous people. While setting up my equipment, I could not help but notice people like Presidents of the United States and other famous people in the photos.
Bob and I sat down and talked for about three hours. Bob told me how he learned to fly when he was a young boy near Nashville. He told me in detail how he overcame his air sickness problem and how he taught himself how to do rolls in the airplane. He was in the Tennessee National Guard, and became a top pilot for the US Army.
Bob told me how he had the job to bring over new planes for the pilots in Europe and to take back the shot up ones. Bob earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courage in bringing back a very important airplane from Europe.
Bob had 58 successful missions in the 52nd Fighter Group flying the Spitfires. He was shot down on his next mission and was taken a prisoner by the Germans. He was put into a Stalag prison camp.
Bob told me his incredible story of escaping from the Stalag, stealing a German plane and flying to the Netherlands, where he got surrounded by people with pitchforks because they thought he was a German because of the plane he flew.
After World War II, Bob became a test pilot and worked closely with Chuck Yaeger on the X-1 program to break the sound barrier. Later he became a test pilot for North American Aviation, and helped train the American pilots on the F-86 in the Korean War. Bob told me a great story about how, even though he was technically a civilian, he blew up a bridge for the Allies in Korea.
Bob holds several record for flying. He is very famous for a stunt where he poured a glass of ice tea while doing rolls in his plane, all without spilling a drop. You can see this stunt on You Tube.
Bob really is a true hero and seems like a living-John Wayne to me. He is a great guy who has mentored many pilots over the years. Bob told me about his friendship with lots of great pilots, like Charles Lindberg and Jimmy Doolittle.
After my interview with Bob, I started looking all over the internet and on Youtube to see him in action. I am going to buy Bob's book to read more about his interesting life.
When I got back to Seattle I couldn't wait to see the interview footage. Bob did a super job. I hope he likes the short video we are making about him.

Leave a comment*

Note: All comments must be approved by the post author.