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Forever Flying

Forever Flying

5.0 2
by Robert A. Hoover, Mark Shaw

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Barnstormer, World War II fighter, test pilot, aerobatic genius -- Bob Hoover is a living aviation legend, the man General James "Jimmy" Doolittle called "the greatest stick and rudder pilot who ever lived." Hoover's career spans the history of American aviation, and now he tells his amazing story with all the flat-out honesty and gusto that have made his life an


Barnstormer, World War II fighter, test pilot, aerobatic genius -- Bob Hoover is a living aviation legend, the man General James "Jimmy" Doolittle called "the greatest stick and rudder pilot who ever lived." Hoover's career spans the history of American aviation, and now he tells his amazing story with all the flat-out honesty and gusto that have made his life an extraordinary adventure.

At twenty-two, Hoover was a decorated World War II fighter pilot, already famous both for his aerobatic abilities -- including looping under a bridge in Tunisia -- and for surviving seventeen equipment-failure crash landings as a test pilot. Then the Germans knocked his Mark V Spitfire out of the sky. He made three attempts to escape en route to the infamous Stalag I prison camp, and after sixteen brutal months, finally escaped by stealing a German plane and flying it to Holland.

After the war, Hoover tested the first jets at Wright Field, dogfighting Chuck Yeager, the man who'd come to call him "Pard." In the quest to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, Hoover endured every step of the grueling G-force training along with Yeager. But soon after Yeager's historic flight, Hoover broke both his legs in a desperate bailout from a blazing F-84 Thunderjet -- dashing his dreams of flying the X-1 himself.

In Forever Flying, we relive the thrills and danger Hoover continued to face as a civilian test pilot: testing the first jets to take off and land aboard aircraft carriers; flying bombing runs over North Korea; and demonstrating new planes for fighter pilots, who had to be warned not to attempt to duplicate Hoover's spectacular spins, stalls, and rolls. He became an adviser to engineering on the X-15 rocket, and rose through the corporate ranks, famed for flying his daring aerobatics routines in a business suit and straw hat instead of a pilot's "G suit."

Bob Hoover has flown more than 300 types of aircraft, dazzled crowds at more than 2,000 air shows all over the world, and is still flying today. He's set both transcontinental and "time to climb" speed records, and known such great aviators as Orville Wright, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Jacqueline Cochran, Neil Armstrong, and Yuri Gagarin, who saved Hoover from the KGB at an international aerobatics competition in Moscow during the height of the Cold War.

Spiced by reminiscences from fellow fliers, friends, and his wife, all of whom recount Hoover's devilish practical jokes as well as his death-defying flights, Forever Flying reveals the magnificent true story of a great American hero.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No less an authority than Jimmy Doolittle considers Hoover "the greatest stick and rudder pilot who ever lived," and in this autobiography, Hoover provides ample evidence that he has been as skilled a pilot of jets as he was of earlier aircraft. Born in 1922, he soloed at age 16 and went on to become a fighter pilot in WWII, during which he was shot down and served more than a year as a German prisoner of war. In 1950, he became one of the chief test pilots for North American Aviation and, subsequently, for the merged NAA-Rockwell. Although he became an executive in that corporation, he frequently climbed into the cockpit to demonstrate its products, even defying corporate orders by joining in some bombing missions during the Korean War. Hoover retired from the industry in 1986 but continued appearing in air shows until 1992, when, at the age of 70, his license was pulled by the FAA. After a three-year legal battle led by F. Lee Bailey, his license was reinstated last year. Shaw (Down for the Count) has helped him tell his exciting story, including anecdotes about Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong, all of whom he knew personally. Author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Hoover is one of the nation's premier airmen, probably best known to the public for his spectacular airshow routines. During the course of a half-century spent in numerous cockpits, he has gone from barnstorming in prop planes to dogfighting Germans to testing Supersopnic jets and done them all well. Along the way he has flown withand frequently againstmany of the legendary names in American aviation. His book is not so much a formal autobiography as a chatty memoir of the aviation community. Writing with the swagger he has justly earned, Hoover breezes past the mundane details of career, training, and family life in favor of an unending series of flying stories and reminiscences that are full of nifty details. Casual readers as well as airplane buffs will be fascinated. For popular collections.Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Edwards AFB, Cal.
Roland Green
Hardly any aviation buff will not have heard of Hoover, and none will fail to be fascinated by his autobiography. Learning to fly in the late 1930s, Hoover went on to be a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and to survive captivity in Nazi Germany. After the war, he was one of America's leading test pilots for 10 years, and after that, he enjoyed a 40-year career as one of the all-time masters of acrobatic flying. He is best known as a P-51 pilot, but his 30,000 hours of flying have been in more than 100 different aircraft. He also met most of the other important aviators of the last 60 years, which well enables him to offer vivid portraits of the flyers as well as the machines. Thoroughly enthralling from beginning to end, this should be considered a mandatory addition to any self-respecting aviation collection.
Henry Kisor
"A hair-raising popular read..." - Chicago Sun-Times
Kirkus Reviews
The ripsnorting autobiography of R.A. (Bob) Hoover, a storied airman who belies the aviation adage that there are old pilots and bold pilots but no old, bold pilots.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Hoover (who turned 74 last January) learned to fly as a teenager. When the US entered WW II, Hoover became an army pilot (albeit as a sergeant, not a commissioned officer). Posted overseas, he flew 58 successful missions in British-made Spiatfires before being shot from the unfriendly skies over Nice, France. Having endured 16 months as a POW in the infamous Stalag 1, the intrepid birdman stole a Luftwaffe F-190 and winged his way to freedom. Back in the US, Hoover embarked on an eventful career as a test pilot, flying experimental aircraft for the US Air Force. Among other memorable moments he recalls with the help of USA Today columnist Shaw, is his experience as Chuck Yeager's backup on the epic 1947 flight during which the X-1 first broke the sound barrier. Although Hoover left the military for private industry in 1949, he was in the thick of aerial combat over Korea, demonstrating the F-86's capabilities as a dive bomber. Since then, Hoover has made a heady living on the global barnstorming circuit, performing spectacular feats of aerobatics and becoming known as King of the Air Shows. The holder of several speed records and recipient of countless honors, he has rubbed shoulders and wingtips with many of aviation's greats: Neil Armstrong, Jacqueline Cochran, Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and more. He has appreciably fewer fond memories of the Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded him in 1992. With more than a little help from his many friends, however, the aging pilot won this dogfight last October and is again licensed to solo in this country.

An exciting and engrossing memoir from one of aviation's more engaging pioneers.

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.84(h) x (d)

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Chuck Yeager
"Bob Hoover [is] the greatest pilot I ever saw."

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Forever Flying 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
NeverStopsReading More than 1 year ago
I bought my dad this book for his birthday and he has already read it over 3 times. Awesome book
Guest More than 1 year ago
'From airshow left, Bob will shut down both engines on his turbo shrike, dive into ground effect, then pull up into a engine out roll!', the Reno Air Race announcer stated. 'This guys nuts!', I thought knowing full well what the fatal consequences could be...never the less I watched with wide eyed anticipation. After the 5 or 10 minuite demonstration had been completed, the pilot taxied up in front of the grandstands to give everyone a big thumbs up. To my astonishment, the body that appeared didn't belong to a lean young military aviator, but to a grey elderly fellow in his 70's! I'll never forget that moment...the first experience I had to witness the greatest pilot to ever shake the stick and push the rudder pedals perform - Bob Hoover. This book is a must read for anyone, pilot or not. Bob Hoover has lived the life that we have all dreamt about at on time or another. From Shooting up the Germans in WWII, to piloting experimental test aircraft, Bob has really done it all. A legendary man, born in a legendary time, who has led a legendary life.....R.A. Bob Hoover.