For all the battles one WWII Hero and legendary aviator fought, it was the battle that he was forced to take on with the Federal Aviation Administration, that still bothers him some 20 years after the fact..
Robert A ‘Bob’ Hoover, 93, known worldwide as one of the greatest flyers in all time should be enjoying a quiet semi-retirement after a life well-lived in service to his country and his fellow aviators. But… not so much. Hoover’s accomplishments are world renowned… even to the point where Brigadier General (Ret.) Chuck Yeager called him the best pilot he’d ever seen. Hoover’s exploits were many… including a thrilling WWII escape from a German POW camp, made possible by his theft of a Luftwaffe fighter plane to make his way to freedom.After a stellar career as a test pilot involved in shepherding some of this nation’s most important airframes into history, including his support of the early Bell X-1 Mach flight, Hoover further distinguished himself as an airshow pilot demonstrating a number of unique craft… flying them in ways that remain unequaled by any other performer.
However, in 1992, when the FAA was trying to provide justification for rules that virtually grounded every airline pilot past the age of 60, it was oft pointed out that Hoover’s amazing airshow performances, being flown while he was still in his 70s, pretty much negated and/or belittled the FAA’s position on the ‘Age 60’ rule. During a June 1992 performance in Oklahoma City, OK, two FAA Inspectors allegedly seeking to ‘bust somebody famous’ filed a report (later contested by every airshow performer who was there, and a fellow FAA inspector) that called into question Hoover’s abilities as a pilot, as well as his reasoning and social skills. Bob went on to fly 33 more airshows, in front of hundreds of thousands of people without a scratch (or a pep from the FAA), before the FAA issued an inexplicable “Emergency” order grounding him immediately – well over a year after the OKC show that started the action.Despite the fact that Bob’s flying privileges, including his amazing airshow performances, were otherwise unrestricted in a number of countries around the world (even after a cautious reexamination—medical and aeronautical in countries as far away as Australia), the FAA persisted in its course… despite a growing chorus of criticism and expert disapproval.
What followed became a three-year struggle for Hoover. It developed into an immense industry-wide protest of a scope that had never been seen before… or since. After millions of dollars, tremendous personal embarrassment, and no small amount of legal maneuvering, the FAA relented and restored Bob’s privileges—to the delight of flyers everywhere.While Bob was pleased to be vindicated, the matter still leaves him unsettled, “What happened was wrong… and what happened to me is still happening, every day, to aviators everywhere who did not have the expert help I had.” “This is America and my sense of patriotism requires me to question authority and right the wrongs I see… and the way that FAA deals with pilots, for even the slightest problem or infraction, seems like such a great wrong. I just won’t have it. Twenty years ago, we won MY battle, but lost the war for every other pilot… and I’m determined to see changes come about so that every pilot in the US is treated as every American should be.”
As a result of this concern, Bob started discussions last year with the Author of the definitive book about his fight with the FAA, ‘Air of Injustice.” Bob asked him to assemble a team capable of using all the extraordinary tools available as part of the NewMedia revolution to take on a definitive long-form documentary. This effort will not only chronicle what happened in the FAA v Bob Hoover action, but will undertake an examination of the opportunities available to recraft a more just, representative future for the flyers of today… and tomorrow.Work has already commenced on this aggressive examination of the FAA v Bob Hoover fight, the corrective actions that should have been taken once Bob won back his right to fly, and what needs to be done now and into the future, including an examination of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights campaign that is now in its second of several steps toward rebuilding the aviation community.
About The Documentary Team
TANSTAAFL Ltd., is the documentary arm of the Aero-News Network (ANN). ANN is a leading St. Augustine, FL based news organization covering the aviation and aerospace world. ANN’s Airborne Unlimited is the internet’s only daily video news program dedicated to the entire Aviation and Aerospace community.
To learn more about this project, please contact
Jim Campbell, Executive Producer
Mike Turner, Marketing Manager