For decades, people were thrilled by the aerobatic exploits of Bob Hoover, and he is widely regarded by some of history’s greatest pilots as the best of the best. His signature airshow moves included 8-point rolls, 16-point loops and pinpoint, no-engine landings. On some occasions he would place a glass of iced-tea on the dash, refilling it from a pitcher using only the motion of the aircraft rolling around its axis, all without spilling a drop.
Hoover, like many great adventurers, was also an accomplished escape artist. He famously escaped a German POW-camp in 1945 by stealing a damaged enemy aircraft and flying it back to Allied territory. Another time he performed so superbly at a Moscow airshow that he attracted the unwanted attention of the KGB – only to be saved by the intervention of another admiring aviator, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Even Bob Hoover, the consummate pilot’s pilot, was shaken by the 40-minutes he spent in an out of control F-86 Saber jet during one test flight.
That last tale perhaps best illustrates our favorite aviation-turned-life advice: keep flying through the crash. With a steady hand on the controls and an opportunistic optimism for success, you’ll stick the landing more often than you think.
Story credit: AirSpace from the National Air and Space Museum; https://airandspace.si.edu/learn/airspace-podcast