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