Like everyone else, I had assumed that Bob Hoover was already a Wright Brothers Memorial award winner. Now we can say that he really is.
Yesterday the National Aeronautic Association's selection committee voted Bob Hoover the winner for 2014, beating out a very distinguished group of nominees in the process.
Hoover's story is legend. A WWII fighter pilot, he was shot down, captured and imprisoned for 18 months in a German concentration camp before escaping and flying off in a German Focke-Wulf fighter, which he successfully piloted to freedom.
After the war, Hoover worked various civilian jobs including at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Hoover was Chuck Yeager's backup and flew the chase plane for the first Mach 1 flight.
Hoover is best known to aviators today as an airshow performer. For years he put on arguably the best performance in the world, flying a North American Shrike Commander through a series of aerobatic maneuvers before shutting down both engines in flight, doing a few more maneuvers dead stick and coming in for a perfect landing to roll up at show center with the props stopped.
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