Ken and Susan Forester, Meridian owners and avid aviation enthusiasts, enjoyed a visit to the 2013 AirVenture Show in Oshkosh, WI, held earlier this month. The AirVenture show is held one week each summer where Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) members and aviation fans totaling more than 500,000 from more than 60 countries attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they rekindle friendships and celebrate the past, present and future in the world of flight.
While at the air show, the Foresters had the unique opportunity to meet one of aviation’s greatest legends, Robert A. “Bob” Hoover. Hoover, a 1988 inductee to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, is best known for his air show performances in a Shrike Commander and P-51 Mustang and a flying career dating back to World War II.
In 2011, EAA AirVenture honored Hoover with a special day of recognition saluting his iconic aerobatic career along with heroic service in World War II. “Tribute to Bob Hoover” Day featured an afternoon air show with many of the legendary aircraft flown by Hoover over the years, in addition to programs chronicling his experiences and achievements.
Considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of modern aerobatics, Hoover enjoyed a remarkable air show and air racing career after flying 59 missions in World War II and escaping a POW camp by commandeering a German Focke-Wulf 190 in April 1945.
Upon his return to the U.S., Hoover enrolled in test pilot school, after which he flew a variety of aircraft, from the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star to the Northrop N9M flying wing.
Hoover, who served as the official starter at the Reno National Championship Air Races for three decades, began working for North American Aviation in 1950, where he tested and demonstrated the company’s civil and military aircraft. When the company merged with Rockwell International in 1968, he began demonstrating the strength of the Shrike Commander twin-engine business aircraft, putting it through rolls, loops, and other maneuvers usually not associated with executive aircraft.
The Shrike Commander routine was renowned for its energy management as Hoover performed aerobatics with the engines shut down. As part of the finale, he shut down both engines, then executed a loop and an eight-point hesitation slow roll as he headed back to the runway, where he touched down on one tire, then the other, during landing. Hoover later added to his legend by pouring a cup of tea without it spilling while performing a slow barrel roll.
EAA AirVenture 2013 Facts and Figures
Attendance: More than 500,000 in total estimated attendance
Total aircraft: More than 10,000 aircraft arriving at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin.
Total showplanes: 2,335, including 867 homebuilt aircraft, 858 vintage airplanes, 337 warbirds, 130 ultralights, 92 seaplanes, 27 aerobatic aircraft, and 24 miscellaneous showplanes.
Commercial exhibitors: 821 (record total)
International visitors registered: 2,115 visitors registered from 64 nations, with Canada (562 visitors), Australia (257), and South Africa (187) the top three nations.
Media: 914 media representatives on-site, from five continents.