Geniuses come in all sizes and shapes, but appearances mean nothing when you do what you do at a level that very few people can hope to achieve. With Bob Hoover, we got both genius-level performance and an engaging appearance. As a young military pilot Bob Hoover looked the typical, confident fighter pilot, although an unusually tall one who wore an aw-shucks kinda smile. We in general aviation got to know Bob Hoover as the lanky, 6-foot 2-inch Southern gentleman who wore a straw hat, and who could fly an airplane like no one we had ever seen.
Over the years, millions of air show spectators watched in open-mouthed awe as Hoover climbed into a standard twin-engine business airplane, took off, and flew a low-level aerobatic routine that surpassed in both precision and spectacle the athletic gyrations of a purpose-built aerobatic airplane flown by a professional air show pilot.
That twin-engine business airplane was, of course, his green-and-white Shrike Commander. Millions of people saw how the stock Commander could safely be flown right-side up and upside down through low, tight loops and 16-point rolls with both engines running, one engine running, and neither engine running. When Hoover made his dead-stick landing, engines silent and propellers feathered, he did so with just enough energy to slow, exit the runway, and roll to a stop at the foot of the crowd at air show center. Every time.
Those performances cemented Bob Hoover’s reputation as the greatest pilot of our time—a genius—and the Commander as an airplane worthy of the genius pilot’s attention, skill, and respect.
North American Rockwell’s decision to assign Hoover the job of promoting the Commander brand by flying one at air shows was a stroke of marketing genius. There’s no telling how many pilots bought Commanders because they saw Hoover perform in one. And it’s still happening. That’s a remarkable testament to Hoover’s impeccable reputation, and the spotlight his performances shined on the airplane he flew.
We’ve always had the greatest respect and admiration for what Bob Hoover accomplished as a military and civilian pilot, and as an ambassador for the Commander brand. He is gone now, and our respect and admiration is even stronger. He will be missed.
TWIN COMMANDER UNIVERSITY
We’ve been asking you in a series of polls where the next Twin Commander University should be held. The results pointed to one of several Texas cities as the favored venue.
For a variety of reasons, we’ve had to make the decision to delay the University, to spring 2018. A rebounding economy means that more companies, associations, and groups are having conferences. That has made it difficult to find an appropriate venue that can accommodate the University in our preferred time frame.
Also, we’ve been very busy at Twin Commander Aircraft with various projects, and we want to make sure we can devote the time needed to plan and stage the kind of University experience you’ve come to expect.
So, please adjust your calendar for a spring 2018 University. We’ll be talking more about it in future issues of Flight Levels.