A Living Legend:
In my life I've been blessed with the
opportunity to meet a great many legends in the world of aviation, including
most of the Apollo astronauts, several of the Tokyo raiders, many WW II aces,
Chuck Yeager (1st man to break the sound barrier), and many others.
When you want to know something definitively, you ask the experts. So when you want to know who the best pilot who ever lived is, you start by asking the greats. Almost universally they all answer the question with one name, "Bob Hoover". Jimmy Doolittle said Bob Hoover is "the greatest stick-and-rudder pilot who ever lived.", Chuck Yeager said "the greatest pilot I ever saw."
In 2000 I had opportunity to spend some time with the man himself. It was a magical day. Mr. Hoover is not only a skilled aviator, and war hero, but a genuine patriot, and all around nice guy. He represents the kind of person you wish was your neighbor. If you haven't read "Forever Flying", the biography of his life I encourage doing so.
Thanks for the conversations Bob.
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All images & text © 2003 Phil Case