Bob Hoover was an amazingly cool aviator, and those who knew him often just referred to him as “The Hoov”. Two things can be said about Bob Hoover no one is going to argue with:
- The best stick and rudder man known
- He was a company man.
He loved North American / Rockwell like no other. And one day he sat down with Bronco pilot Harry Gintzer (pictured) and revealed, “That became my second favorite airplane.” We can armchair debate the first–P-51’s, Sabre’s, Shrike Commander– but the OV-10 was #2. The black and white photo below is from a 1972 demonstration Bob did in Ft. Worth. There is a video of it on YouTube below.
There are a couple things that stick with me from my encounters in his presence– Bob didn’t care if you were a 777 Captain or a Student in a Skyhawk– He wanted you to be safe. The things he taught me I remember when the plane starts letting you down is “Fly the Airplane, Fly the Airplane, Fly the Airplane.”
I used that mantra in a V-Tail Bonanza about two months ago with a rapid unscheduled total electrical failure over the Pacific Ocean. Great, Single engine over water complications. Once reaching the relative safety of 3,000 feet over Long Beach Airport in Southern California–using my cell phone to text airport operations and have them relay landing clearance from tower–and during those long minutes of relaying communications, hand cranking the gear down, unknown if safe, watching fire trucks and ambulances gather at the far end of my runway below me– I heard Bob’s voice “Always fly it as far into the crash as possible.” And I’m fairly certain I had a strange grin – the kind you get in those high stress situations where you’re on your way to an outcome with high stakes whether you like it or not – but your mind catches on that advice that lets you keep your cool.
Thanks Bob. And I agree, the Bronco is a pretty awesome airplane.