Robert A. “Bob” Hoover celebrates his 92nd birthday today and the entire air show industry joins in wishing Bob the happiest of days.
Hoover is considered one of the founding fathers of modern aerobatics, and was described by Jimmy Doolittle as, “… the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.” In the Centennial of Flight edition of the Air & Space Smithsonian, he was named the third greatest aviator in history.
During his illustrious career, he was awarded the following military medals: Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier’s Medal for Valor, Air Medal with Clusters, Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre. He was also made an honorary member of the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, RCAF Snowbirds, American Fighter Aces Association, Original Eagle squadron and received an Award of Merit from the American Fighter Pilots Association. In 1992, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor. In 2007, he received the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Mr. Hoover a few times at Oshkosh where he is mobbed by adoring fans who he endures graciously while finding time to greet military visitors both serving and veterans. The picture above comes from AirVenture 2011. Below, sharing a special moment with Bob at last year’s event where he autographed a print of his famous yellow P-51 Mustang.