Thank you, Bob Hoover!

    Last week, I attended a wonderful memorial for a recently departed friend, a national treasure, the one and only, Robert A. “Bob” Hoover. 

    There were a couple thousand people gathered in the hangar at Clay Lacy Aviation in Van Nuys, California on a perfect, 80 degree, clear, sunny afternoon. All were there to celebrate Bob’s amazing life, all with a “Bob Story” to tell: The first time they saw Bob perform at an airshow; meeting him as a little boy, and deciding that flying was their life goal — some of whom are now retired from military or airline flying; or the Reno air racers who felt safe as Bob circled overhead the race course in his Mustang. Many talked about being completely transformed by watching the way he flew. Just the way he flew. Bob was certainly one of the best stick and rudder pilots the world will ever see; some talked about Bob as a life-long friend, and others talked about learning what it meant to be classy, a gentlemen, just by observing Bob. And for many of us, we considered Bob as our treasured mentor.

    We've all learned so much, and our lives made so much richer by his example. What a legacy.

    While fans and friends of Bob were gathered outside Lacy's huge hangar, waiting for the fly-bys and missing man formation, a constant stream of corporate Gulfstreams, Citations and Lears came and went on runway 34L, while three parallel contrails cut a diagonal across the western sky, both quiet reminders of Bob’s hand in the testing and development of the machine that we now take so for granted in our lives, the modern jet airplane. I was again reminded of Bob's contribution as I rode back to Colorado with a friend in his Beechjet, delivering me back home just a few hours after the memorial. 

    Even after years of talking with people about Artful Flying, I sometimes struggle to come up with a 20-sec elevator speech on what the book is about. But then I think of Bob Hoover and how he showed us the way to fly artfully, and I feel what it means to be Artful. I suspect you do too, even if it isn’t the easiest thing to verbalize. 

    "All my life, I've simply challenged myself to fly more precisely each time I step into the cockpit." 

    Simple, powerful words. It was such an honor when Bob agreed to write this cover blurb for my book 11 years ago. He understood that this thing I call Artful Flying is not a gift bestowed on an elite few, but something that is accessible and available to anyone; all you have to do -- all you have to do --  is work for it, as Bob did, and to continually seek to improve and challenge yourself every time you fly. 



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