Thought for the Day: Bob Hoover – What did you learn from him?

Builders:

Last week marked the passing of R.A. “Bob” Hoover, arguably the best stick and rudder pilot who ever lived. There were many ‘tributes’ to him that spoke of things like “What a great loss” and sentiments of that sort. For a slightly different take, let me share a few thoughts that came from a brief conversation with Gus Warren.

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I was a bit tired of all the “huge loss” and RIPS. ” said Gus, “He was in his 90s, led a great life, and figured about every way possible to tell everyone else about what he learned.” At the root of Gus’s thought is a serious question of perspective and philosophy. It can be summed up by asking if you saw Bob Hoover as an instructor or as an entertainer.

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Gus, myself, and many other people see Hoover as an instructor. Yes, he put on thousands of great shows, but they were to demonstrate physics, not a claim to magic. He had a healthy ego, and could play the showman part with the best of them, but it was his consistent message there was no magic, only understanding, focus and practice.

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 He was an honest writer, who’s goal wasn’t to have you marvel at him as a demi-god, but to have you actually learn something from him. Most basic case in point: Hoover frankly discussing that he was relentlessly airsick in primary flight training. Think of how many student pilots questioned if flying was for them based on being queasy, but how few advanced pilots took the time to say it happens and how you get past it.

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Hoover offered countless frank lessons like that. As an instructor, his work is timeless, and it didn’t die with him. As an entertainer, it is all just video now, and his Commander is stuck in the NASM, where it will never fly again. If you only know Hoover the entertainer, the guy pouring iced tea in a glass during a roll, you are missing the better half.  Make the transition to understanding him as an instructor by picking up a copy of his 1997 book “Forever Flying”. It is a good start.

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Above, Gus Warren in the front seat, with his Father Clare Warren in back of our Piet in 1997, Edgewater Florida.  Gus’ father, the legendary Clare Warren, soloed in 1932, got his pilot’s license in 1936, became an instructor in 1940, logged more than 20,000 hours of instruction, and flew most of the models of light aircraft ever produced in the U.S.

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Gus is a flight instructor, and I learned at least half of what I know about good flying directly from him. I had the privilege of knowing Gus’s Dad, and I well understood that things Gus taught me came from his fathers lifetime of experience, as an instructor. Bob Hoover made it to 94, and Clare Warren made it to 97. We don’t have them with us, but we get to cherish everything they worked to share, and in that way they are both still here.

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Read the rest of the story: The Warren’s 1997.

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

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