I’m currently driving around the Southwest. I’ve driven to southern Utah and these rock formations are simply amazing.
Took the advice of a Lexican and drove on highways 24 and 12. Highway 24 that takes you right through a national park called the Capital Reef. There, one drives in between these huge rock canyons that are hundreds of feet high.One has difficulty putting the experience into words.
By the time I got to Zion National Park a couple of days ago and saw even more impressive canyons thousands of feet high I almost got blasé about it.
So it has been with the Reno air races which I have attended pretty much on a regular basis since the late 1970s.
It’s really the last of the great air races and to see these World War II era fighters at almost 500 miles an hour maybe 100 to 200 feet off the deck is amazing.
But there was one pilot there who consistently amazed me. R.A. “Bob” Hoover would put on a demonstration with his twin engine Rockwell shrike commander that was amazing.
He referred to this demonstration as energy management, and boy did he manage it. After he did the normal loops and aileron rolls he would tell the crowd what would happen next.
He shut off both engines and did another complete loop. The plane of course is perfectly silent in the air. All you would hear is the wind whistling over the wings in the fuselage. He’s on the radio talking to the crowd as cool as a cucumber.
After he did the loop he would talk to his announcer over the radio and make an informal bet. With the engines still off, he would bet that he could land and taxi to the announcer within, say, 10 feet.
He lands the plane and more often than not he coasted right up to the announcer with the dead engines.
After seeing this for so many years I can’t say that I ever became blasé about it but I knew he could do it.
The thing is I’ve never known any other pilot who could do this.
He was equally adept with his P 51 Mustang that was painted yellow.
In fact for many years he would leave the unlimiteds out on the course, say “gentleman you have a race” and climb out and monitor the proceedings 500 feet higher or so.
And he coached countless racers with engine problems on landing their planes with the dead stick landing.
I was told he was up at Reno this year, and I went into the paddock area to see if I could find him. But he had gone by the time I got there.
Most years you would find him there in his trademark Straw hat happy to autograph his book for you.
Fairwinds and following seas, Bob.