Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bob Hoover, an icon and his plane "Ole Yeller"

Bob Hoover's "Ole Yeller". Photo by Michael.

Bob Hoover is an icon.  He flew a Spitfire during World War II.  In 1944 his malfunctioning Mark V Spitfire was shot down in France, and he spent 16 months at a German prison camp.  He managed to escape from the prison camp, stole an Fw190 and flew to safety in the Netherlands.  
He flew aerobatics in the Mustang "ole Yeller" at air shows around the country until his retirement in the 1990's.  
Bob Hoover has set records for transcontinental and "time to climb" speed.
Bob Hoover is best known for his civil air show career, which started when he was hired to demonstrate the capabilities of Aero Commander's Shrike Commander, a twin piston-engined business aircraft which had developed a rather staid reputation due to its bulky shape. Hoover showed the strength of the plane as he put the aircraft through rolls, loops, and other maneuvers which most people would not associate with executive aircraft. 
With the advent of camcorders, Hoover added a flourish to the act by pouring a cup of tea from a Thermos bottle, while performing a slow barrel roll, a 1G maneuver. Video of this has been widely distributed.
Hoover also served for many years as the official starter of the Unlimited-class races at the Reno Air Races. The race planes (mostly modified World War II fighter aircraft) joined up in line-abreast formation on Hoover's yellow P-51 Mustang, and when in satisfactory order the spectators would hear over the PA his famous radio call, "Gentlemen, you have a race." Hoover's plane would pull up sharply into a vertical climb as the racers dived toward the first turn. Hoover would circle overhead during the race, ready to assist any race pilots with problems. In several cases, Hoover helped pilots with crippled race planes to a safe recovery by talking them down while flying in formation with them. (source: Wikipedia) 

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