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Banana Don’s Slice Of Americana – Happy Birthday Bob Hoover!

Friday, January 24th is Bob Hoover’s 91st birthday. Bob Hoover is arguably the greatest living pilot in the world.

That’s not just me saying it. Watch the video below.

Bob Hoover was a combat pilot, a test pilot and an airshow pilot. He spent 16 months in a German POW camp, and on his third escape attempt made it out and STOLE a Luftwaffe fighter plane and flew himself out of Germany!

Probably my favorite story about Bob is the one about how he ALMOST became the first man to break the official sound barrier – not his friend Chuck Yeager. Bob was going to be THE GUY to break the sound barrier in the X-1 experimental rocket plane. Unfortunately, as a favor to a friend, he buzzed the field at the Springfield, Ohio airport. Bob’s friend was going to tell everyone HE had buzzed the field, I guess so they would think he was cool. So Bob jumped in a P-80 jet, buzzed the field at low level and upside down and flew off. The problem was somebody from the Civil Aviation Authority (the predecessor to the FAA) saw it all happen, and since the P-80 was one of the few jets flying in America at the time, it wasn’t hard to figure out who the culprit was.So Bob got busted down to back up pilot, and the rest is history.

I’ve had the privilege to see Bob fly several times at air shows and talked to him a couple of times. He’s retired now, but he was (and is) in a league of his own in an airplane. This is us at the 1991 Reno Air Races. We got photo-bombed, and strangely enough, the guy behind me kinda looks like he belongs on “Reno 911″. Below the photo is a trailer for a documentary about Bob that I hope comes out soon. Happy birthday, Bob!

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