Exerts of the
AOPA

conference with Bob Hoover -
January 30th, 1996


"I just want to take my hat off to the AOPA and the EAA,
because they responded without the slightest concern
about walking a tightrope of being friendly to anybody....
My only concern is that someone with less visibility
than me would just suffer and quietly go away
....It just isn't fair."

- Bob Hoover 1996 -


Legendary Aviator: Bob Hoover

Moderator:
Tonight's special conference features Bob Hoover,
famed aerobatic pilot who last Oct. regained his medical certificate
after a 2.5 year battle with the FAA...
Bob Hoover is writing an autobiography,
to be published by Simon and Schuster...
It is expected to be on sale by August.

David Perkins asks:
Good to have you back Bob. Do you still use the Aerocommander?
Bob Hoover:
David...Absolutely. This year, I will be using F. Lee Bailey's "Hoover Hornet"....but Lee has formed a company, called the Palm Beach Roamer Company, which is being operated by his son Scott....Lee, of course, is the owner. He's remanufacturing Shrikes and Twin Comanches. I must tell you.... It's just like brand-new.....I flew Lee's Commander at the Daytona Show, a week or so after receiving my medical.... and it's just one high-performance airplane. He's done a lot of things to add speed to it. The one he has at the moment does not have the big engines, which will be a part of the next model, but even without any additional power, it's just one fine performing airplane.

Don McNamara asks:
Bob--After reviewing all the publications' reports on your FAA debacle, I notice little or no mention of the two FAA employees who caused this disaster in the first place. What has been their fate?
Bob Hoover:

Don.... The one separated by his own choice from the FAA.... but he's now with the sheriff's department in El Reno, Oklahoma. The other one.....is still with the FAA.
One was Clint Boehler....and the other was James Kelln....
Bob Hoover: and there was a third person who was involved....Glen J. Nelson.


It's very important to mention...
...the wonderful FAA person who took the witness stand on my behalf. His name is Norb Nester.
One side note.....I understand that Nester has been fired from the FAA.


Alan C. asks:
Bob: I'm an American fan who happened to be in Australia during the FAA's deliberation. The Aussies love you..do you feel the Australian's are a more aviation oriented country than the US ?
Bob Hoover:
Alan...No, not really....except that I would like to make a statement that they have treated me so royally....that it's almost beyond description. I was pleased they gave me so much support....
I went out and bought an Australia flag, and wear that on one side of my flight suit, and a U.S. flag on the other side.

Andrew L. Hale asks:
In what year did you start flying and what was the first plane you flew?
Bob Hoover:
Andrew....January 1938. The first airplane.....was a Piper Cub, yellow in color.

Joseph Dunn asks:
Would you advise everyone who must deal with the Federal Government to get an attorney??
Bob Hoover:
Joseph....Indeed so. Absolutely!

Randy Grimm asks:
What can we as private aviators do to correct the structure of the FAA so this type of unfair action doesn't happen to others?
Bob Hoover:

Randy....I don't know what more can be done....
I just want to take my hat off to the AOPA and the EAA,
because they responded without the slightest concern about walking a tightrope
of being friendly to anybody....

My only concern is that someone with less visibility than me just suffer and quietly go away....
It just isn't fair.


David Gerstein asks:
What is your favorite plane?
Bob Hoover:
David....For years I always stated the F- 86....because it was a predictable airplane, yet had a lot of speed and wonderful performance. Could go supersonic....although you had to be going straight down with full power to get supersonic. It didn't have any characteristics. Could put it into a spin and stop it on any heading you wanted. More recently....The Saberliner I operated for years exhibits the same "honest" characteristics, and I thoroughly enjoyed that airplane.

Ken and Pam Brewer:
Do you intend to pursue any civil action against the gov't to recover the financial losses that they have caused you?
Bob Hoover:
Ken.....No, but I've had a lot of people suggest that I do...but I don't have any desire to do that. What's happened has happened, but what has been done is done....what I'm concerned about is this happening to others. I hope those in official capacity will think twice about my experience when this sort of thing happens to other pilots.

David Gerstein asks:
How many hours do you have?
Bob Hoover:
David....Not as many as most people would think....because in my years as a test pilot, most of my flights were very short ones...in combat, the Spitfire only had a range of about an hour and 15 minutes, so if people were back on the ground after that, they were in the sea. So in answer to your question, maybe 20,000 hours.

John K asks:
With all your problem with the FAA , how do the insurance companies react to your flying?
Bob Hoover:

John....They're very supportive....so many people have just come out of the woodwork to be supportive..
.lot of support from professional management insurance company in Wichita,

and the Eagle Insurance Company out of Dallas.

Both of them have been just wonderful in supporting me...my rates are just as normal as anybody else.


Andrew L. Hale asks:
What are some of the types of airplanes you have flown?
Bob Hoover:
Andrew....listing all would take an hour or so....there have been hundreds. I've been able to fly all the captured German and Japanese airplanesa after WW II.... Bob Hoover: I was assigned as the pilot to take the airplanes around the pattern after they were captured..P39s, P40s, P38s, plus the British airplanes coming off the production lines as well..

John K asks:
You have told us of the great aircraft, What's the worst?
Bob Hoover:

John....Oh, boy....I've always felt North American built the best airplanes in the world....

Bob Hoover: but the AJ-1.....in it's early days it had a lot of growing pains...and you wouldn't have enjoyed it that much at first. But once it hit combat, it was a wonderful.


Citabrickr asks:
What airplane will you use in your act when your Commander is turned over to the Smithsonian?
Bob Hoover:
Citabrickr.....I've already used Lee Bailey's Hornet and that's the airplane I'll use this year....but the situation with the Smithsonian is on hold right now.

Mike asks:
Bob what was the most unusual plane you have flown and do you still talk with or fly with Chuck Yegar? and do you plan to be at the Dayton Airshow in ohio?
Bob Hoover:
Mike....the most unusual plane I have ever flown.....I haven't been asked that question before.... let me think about this for a second....I've flown so many strange airplanes....first flight in the "flying wing" was probably a strange airplane.

Cases asks:
Mr. Hoover, I am a female pilot and have seen your shows on several occasions. I must say YOU'RE GREAT! I love your hats! Any hints for women in the air?
Bob Hoover:
Cases......I've met, known and admired a great many women who have just been outstanding in the air.... one that comes to mind right off is....when you hear the name "champion", one doesn't get the title unless you've really got a lot going for you, a lot of practice and hard work.,...and Patty Wagstaff has managed that title three times in a row...and you have to admire anyone who can do that, man or woman.

Thomas L. McMahon asks:
Bob, are you working on any projects with Jim Bede in St. Louis and are you going to be in stl anytime soon?
Bob Hoover:
Thomas....I had a call from St. Louis, to participate in their event...and I think that's the Labor Day weekend, but I checked my mail the other day and I haven't received a contract from them, so it's not solid.....on Jim Bede, I was involved with the BD-10 until the medical grounding took place, and I was very disappointed with what happened with that. But I do have a lot of respect for Jim Bede.

Rodney Martz asks:
You have no doubt read in some of the Warbird magazines about the Aussie divers who have found some Royal Navy WWII aircraft off of Australia...was wondering just where your Spitfire went down in the Med?
Bob Hoover:
Rodney...I don't imagine there's anything left of it....it went straight in, and it was burning on the way down. It was off the coast of the French Riveria, abouss of my life will be on the newstands, probably in August... published by Simon and Schuster.

Phillip W Bell asks:
Did you get to fly the german jets after ww2?
Bob Hoover:
Phillip....Yes...I did the evaluation of the Heinkel 162....that was the single-engine, single-seater fighter jet that had the engine up on the fuselage.
That was really one of the odd airplanes that was really very risky....and there weren't very many people who survived flying those airplanes.
It never saw production, so most of the people who got killed in it were test pilots.

Phillip W Bell asks:
What did you think of their performance?
Bob Hoover:

Phillip....they were really high-performing airplanes...the one thing they didn't have were boosted, hydraulic control system....the faster you went, the less control you had.

If you wanted to turn, the controls were very stiff.


Citabrickr asks:
What do you concentrate most on while flying your act?
Bob Hoover:
Citabrickr....preciseness. I'm challenged to do a little bit better than yesterday...each time I fly.

David P. Shelly asks:
Bob, What do you do for fun when you're not flying?
Bob Hoover:
David....I enjoy tennis, although I'm lousy at it....I have plenty of things to keep me busy.

EditorKaren-Sport A asks:

Bob, I read the letter Inspector Nestor wrote to Hinson;

Now that the case is closed, have you spoken personally with Inspector Nestor?

Where is he now?

Bob Hoover:

Karen....F. Lee Bailey let me know just today that he had been discharged from the FAA....

and I thought the letter he wrote to Hinson was a masterpiece of accuracy,
and stating the facts as they were.


Bob Hallbeck asks:
Have you flown Helicopters and which is your favorite machine.
Bob Hoover:
Bob....I don't have a favorite...but when Lee Bailey owned the helicopter company, I was flying a Bell 47, and Lee asked if I wanted to finish up the Enstrom, and his wife Patty is a helicopter/fixed wing pilot, so she delivered one here in California.

James Chambliss asks:
Have you ever flown any Soviet aircraft?
Bob Hoover:
James....Yes, I was the U.S. team captain in the aerobatic competition in Moscow in 1966, and flew the Yak 18, which was the winning airplane.

EditorKaren-Sport A asks:
Bob, Have you flown Pitts Specials, and what is your opinion of the new mono-wing competition a/c like Sukhoi, Cap, and Extra vs the Pitts?
Bob Hoover:
Karen.....Those airplanes have had a lot of thought in the design and construction....I enjoy flying the Pitts Specials...and the mono-wings tend to have less drag than the biplanes.

Mike asks:
Bob how do you think the P-51 and Spitfire compare in performance to each other and other WWII Plames?
Bob Hoover:

Mike....the Spitfire was an island defender, and had very short change....it had a problem in that when you would get up to real high speed, say diving at the enemy....as your speed built up, your ailerons would want to float up on you and it would pull you right out of the dive.

Bob Hoover: With the Mustang, it would go right up to 500 MPH and still be in good shape.


David Gerstein asks:
What inspired you to shut off both engines and do aerobatics in a plane not designed as a glider and not designed to do aerobatics?
Bob Hoover:
David....when we invaded Africa....P38's were coming over on ships, and we assembled them there, and we would take them up. I had been trained on multiengine in the military, and I would develop that routine..
.and then go out to the front-line units, and put on a demo to show them the overall performance of the airplane.
I developed the routine I'm doing with the Shrike with the P38. When Rockwell and North American merged, I was invited back to see if I could do something to give people confidence in the Commander....
if I could do that, it would help sales. Sales went from one a month to eight a month as a result of that demonstration.

Mike Busch asks:
Isn't your routine in the Shrike awfully tough on the engines, what with the shutdowns and all? Is some sort of pre-shutdown cool-down built into your routine?
Bob Hoover:
Mike....when we started doing this...we anticipated if we got 100 hours out of those engines, we'd be lucky.
The Lycoming engines in my airplane have been remanufactured by Victor in Palo Alto,
and at the last engine change, the engines were past TBO and they were running fine
so Victor Aviation lifted the engines out, and we could have gone for another round of TBO.

M.G. asks:
Bob...I'm concerned about the future of GA...many of my 20 something aged friends are dropping out due to expense and the much decreased prossibility of landing (no pun intended) an airline job...any words of wisdom?
Bob Hoover:

with each generation....everybody feels the obstacles are too great and insurmountable. But there are a great many people who perservere and get those jobs...

Bob Hoover: somebody's going to get them, and if you press on and work toward that goal, you can make it happen.


William J. Surprena asks:
How many air shows did you fly in during your time in Austraila
Bob Hoover:
William.....I'd be hard-pressed to remember.... I'd be there for 11 days....probably 30 or 40 shows.... Bob Hoover: but I might go for 6 months without flying...but found it didn't really affect my performance.....the Austrailians were warm and wonderful people...I'd get a standing ovation, and it was heartwarming to perform for those people.
Everybody wanted me to fly their airplanes. .....the inspector who checked me out in Australia actually flew the whole low-level routine with me...he has to be gutsy to fly with somebody he'd never known before.

Rodney Martz asks:
Did you fly chase for Yeager during the record sound-barrier breaking flight?
Bob Hoover:
Rodney...yes...I was flying a long-nosed T-80, and I took a photograph...that went on the Associated Press worldwide, and we had it on President Truman's desk the next day....Yeager has commissioned a painting of him passing me, Chuck and I will be signing those in Seattle,.,,,March 16th.

Mike asks:
Do you still talk with Chuck Yegar and do you ever fly with him?
Bob Hoover:
Mike...frequently. WE haven't flown together in some length of time, but we talk quite often, call each other from time to time.

Citabrickr asks:
Have you ever had an inflight emergency during an airshow performance, what type, if any?
Bob Hoover:
Citabrickr....I sure have...lots of them.... once with the P51 at Myrtle Beach AFB, I was putting on a demo there, and had an engine fail and I was landing out of a roll. I couldn't make the runway, and landed in a creek bed. The airplane was destroyed...but I was only banged up a little bit. Nothing to worry about.
Then in Columbus, Ohio, the airplane caught fire...and it made me get back into the Nomax fire suit and away from the business suit I'd worn.
Incidentally I left my Panama hat....in that airplane.

Robin Bray asks:
What do you like best about flying airshows?
Bob Hoover:

Robin....I enjoy all the many wonderful people I have the opportunkty to meet and visit with...admiration for all my fellow performers....after you've done this for many years, you have many wonderful friends...beyond that, the folks who put on the shows turn out to be great friends...

Bob Hoover: and as a result of the shows, you get to meet a real cross section of America. It's all a big plus.?


Mike Folan (OWD) asks:
Chuck Yeager relates a story in his book how you once bounced a deadsticked a/c off the top of a passing truck to make it over the fence.. how'd you do it?!?
Bob Hoover:
Mike....it wasn't exactly like that...there was a little license taken in that description...the truck was parked on the side of the road, and I was trying to avoid hitting cars, and I managed to get the wing down between two parked cars.....it put a big dent there...and of course all the newspapers said I bounced off the car, and that's how that story got started.

David Zuckerman asks:
Sir, can you make any recommendations for one wannting to learn aerobatics? How or what should one look for in an instructor and equipment?
Bob Hoover:
David....let me just say that....my friend Leo Laudenslager, world champion, he was a young person who came to Reno many years ago....and he was a mechanic at the time (now an American Airlines captain)...Leo said he watched the performance at Reno, and decided that was what he what he wanted to do...and he dedicates his performance to me on a lot of ccasions....I think if you want to achieve something badly enough...then you can put all your energy toward it and you will succeed.

Gary Crump asks:

There was some considerable friction detected between the Australian Federal Air Surgeon and the FAA Federal Air Surgeon when you were issued an Australian medical.

How many other countries did you receive certification before the FAA came through and which countries were they?

Bob Hoover:

Gary...the Australian certification was recognized worldwide....except the U.S.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that Dr. Rob Liddell, head of aviation medicine in Australia....
reviewed all of the data and was absolutely convinced that there was no foundation for any of the allegations.
I must give him credit for...

Bob Hoover: getting myself and Dr. Jon Jordon of the U.S. FAA together...
I respect Rob very much, and he made it possible for me to get back on flight status..


Karen Xander asks:
Bob, how did you come to wear your Panama hat?
Bob Hoover:

Karen....It all started because of my sensitive skin....I started losing hair....so I had to start protecting myself....I've been subject for many years to little skin cancer problems, and so it became a trademark....it was a matter of protection. ...

oh, one additional thing about that Panama hat....I used to give out my hat at the end of airshows...so this year, at the International Convention of Airshows in Vegas in December, I gave them an old one...and they auctioned it off....and do you know how much it brought? $500....some guy paid $500 for an old, beat-up straw hat. The money went to charity, so that was great..


William J. Surprena asks:
Bob did you ever consider trying for the space program early in your carrer
Bob Hoover:
William...No, I really didn't....I wasn't interested in it when it started...because I didn't feel the pilot would be in control...he was just a passenger.

EditorKaren-Sport A asks:

Have you ever experienced the "wobblies"
(named coined by competition aerobatic pilots for the "spins")

Do you recommend any particular tips for dealing with the physiological stresses of aerobatic flying?

Bob Hoover:
Karen....it's just a matter of conditioning yourself...I remember the first time I did a lomcevak...I was bewildered...suddenly, a lomcevak was nothing. So it's just a matter of conditioning, of both body and mind.

Mike Busch asks:
You mentioned some in-flight emergencies in the P-51. Ever had any in the Shrike?
Bob Hoover:
Mike....Yes...I participated in an event at Brown Field, and upon departing, I had been serviced with jet fuel (with recip engines) and both engines quit producing power yet completely normal readings.
I was heading north out of Brown Field, and I didn't have enough power to turn back and land, and in that area there are nothing but deep ravines, really deep....
and I pulled up at the last instant, and slammed into the side of a ravine, but I had the airplane slowed up enough so that nobody was hurt.
We hit a rock pile after about 200 feet of forward movement...but we all got out OK.

Jerome U. Ethier asks:
Mr. Hoover, could you ever have confidence in the FAA again in its current condition? If not, what would it take to restore your confidence in it.
Bob Hoover:

Jerome...Yes....and I'm pleased to get your question, Jerome.

There are so many good people within the FAA....it's like any organization..
you get a few bad apples, and it taints the whole organization.
There are just SO MANY wonderful people in the FAA...
and I got a great many calls from people within the FAA supporting me.
I have a wonderful feeling about the FAA as a whole....just not the bad apples.


VAPILOT asks:
Bob...do you believe the younger generation is prepared to spend the money necessary to fly for recreation, or do we need to get a handle on the increasing expense first?
Bob Hoover:
VAPILOT.....it takes me back to that old saying...if there's a will, there's a way...
it seemed expensive to me at the time...
I had to work 16 hours a day in a grocery store to earn $2....
and I got 15 minutes of flying time for that....If there's a will there's a way. Don't give up.

Gary Crump asks:
How much longer do you feel like you'll want to continue flying professionally on the show circuit?
Bob Hoover:
Gary....I've always addressed that from the viewpoint of...if I'm physically fit and enjoying it and choose to continue, I will...
and I think I'll be the first to recognize when I develop some kind of deficiency and stop flying.
Look at Steve Wittman...he was 18 years older than me.

John Cohen asks:
Do you have children and did you teach any of them to fly?
If so does it make you nervous to watch them do aerobatics?
Bob Hoover:
John....I have a son and a daughter...and they were over exposed to aviation, because I had them in airplanes at an early age...
and they never expressed a desire to learn to fly and I never pushed them.

Eric Murphy asks:
Bob, as a relitively new private pilot, I'm interested to know what advice you would have on achieving a long and successful flying career?
Bob Hoover:

Eric...I'd like to see any young person learning to fly take some aerobatics...if only to see if they can get an airplane out of an unusual attitude. Know you airplane...

Bob Hoover: know its limitations...and above all....know yours.


Thomas W. Beam asks:
Do you feel the NTSB appeal process failed? Do you recommend any changes. See you in Kalamazoo this summer.
Bob Hoover:
Thomas.....yes, I think I certainly would recommend changes...but I don't know how I would implement them, because the NTSB seats are politically appointed jobs...
and if the administration doesn't use its power to appoint qualified people,
I don't know how we could change it...
but we do need people who have an aviation and/or legal background.

Angela B. Elgee asks:
Bob, in regard to the FAA, do you think the inspectors who first expressed a concern about your flying acted inappropriately?
Bob Hoover:
Angela....of course I agree. I feel it was an out-and-out conspiracy.
Angela....I can only tell you that I have in front of me the letter from my FAA witness that says that I'd been flying long enough, and "it was time to get me grounded".....and the two apparently don't like tall, skinny people.
I don't know what their motivation might have been other than the fact that they felt I'd been flying long enough, and "let's put him on the ground."
Angela....I never had a problem in the first place....as confirmed by all the doctors I've been to... I've taken every psychological, physical test anyone has ever had...
I had doctors clinically observe me, all confirming that it was a bunch of baloney.

Eric Murphy asks:
Bob, on the whole, do you believe that Airshows specificaly, and GA in general, are on the rise, or in decline?
Bob Hoover:
Eric....on the rise...decidedly so, according to records kept by the International Council of Airshows.... more shows are being scheduled, and attendance is on the increase every year.

Karen Xander asks:
Bob, what do you think of "glass cockpits" and can you see them more in more in GA...I just couldn't think of it in a Pitts though...thoughts??
Bob Hoover:
Karen....no, I don't really have any thoughts on that. I do enjoy all the visibility thought....those new displays are the cat's pajamas....the one thing you have to worry about though, is a near fatality....an F18, the pilot was using his heads-up display, and doing a loop, and the sun blanked out his HUD, and he pulled too soon and didn't have enough height to recover...he survived...but the impact was enormous, right in front of me....but the airplane slithered about a 1,000 feet or so....he was broken up from head to toe, but he survived.

Bob Hoover:

Thank you very much for inviting me here.... it's been a wonderful interview....

Goodnight all and thank you for participating in our conference.


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