Remembering R.A. “Bob” Hoover

The National Championship Air Races were saddened to learn this morning of the passing of R.A. “Bob” Hoover. An accomplished pilot himself with an air show career that spanned nearly 50 years, we were honored to have Bob join us in September at this year’s races.

Described as “the best stick and rudder man” who ever lived, Bob entertained in Reno for many years. Bob was a friend of NCAR from the beginning and served as a director of the Reno Air Racing Association.

Bob learned to fly at Nashville’s Berry Field and worked in a grocery store to earn money for flying lessons. After serving his county with the Tennessee National Guard, Bob was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field. In 1948, he became a test pilot for General Motors. Bob served as the backup and chase pilot to then-Captain Charles E. Yeager on the X-1 flights that led to the breaking of the sound barrier on October 17, 1947.

Bob flew more than 300 types of aircraft in his career. He was the first to fly the XFJ-2 Fury Jet and the T-28 trainer. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. In 1988, Bob was named to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Bob was an aviation pioneer, a hero and a great man.

We will miss his smile and we extend our condolences to his friends and family.


  1. R.A. thrilled us many times with his skill and kept us laughing with his sharp wit . fair skies Bob.

  2. Very sorry to hear of his passing. Saw him perform at Reno many years ago, and have read some of his background and yes…an amazing career that spanned many decades, and an amazing human being. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

  3. Had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hoover when I worked as staff at an airshow in Meridian, MS. Delightful person, amazing pilot! Sorely missed.

  4. R.A. Bob Hoover the best pilot who ever flew an airplane thrilled all of us with his flying skills and made aviation safer for all of us as a test pilot. May he and his wife have a glorious reunion in the high blue yonder of heaven.

  5. Mr. Hoover almost dislocated my shoulder. One day at the races I stepped aside and reached out to help him up the bleachers at Reno, he was on his way to the announcer stand was at the top of the bleachers, but instead of helping him up – he shook my hand. Saying something like “Thanks for coming out to the races young man”. I was about 45 years old at the time. But he shook my hand so hard he almost knocked me off my feet.
    10 seconds with him really left an impression on me. Blue skys R.A.


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