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Bob Hoover (1922 - 2016)

AP Photo / Invision / Rob Latour

Bob Hoover (1922 - 2016)

Robert A. "Bob" Hoover, a World War II fighter pilot who became an aviation legend for his skills as a test pilot and for his appearances in air shows, has died at age 94, according to multiple news sources.

Hoover died early Tuesday, said Bill Fanning, a close family friend for many years and fellow pilot.

"He was every pilot's icon," Fanning said, recalling his friend as one of the premier test pilots of the 1950s and '60s. "Bob tested everything. He flew them all."

Hoover was known for being the chase pilot for Chuck Yeager, who set an aviation record by breaking the sound barrier in 1947. Hoover went on to set his own transcontinental and “time to climb” speed records.

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The famous General Jimmy Doolittle who was a pioneering pilot himself, called Hoover the “greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”

Hoover’s plane was shot down during World War II and he spent 16 months in a German POW camp. He escaped the camp by stealing a German plane and flying it to the Netherlands.

Hoover became the backup pilot for his friend Chuck Yeager and flew chase for Yeager during his famous Mach 1 flight. He flew flight tests for the F-86 Sabre and the F-100 Super Sabre.

Hoover later became a legend flying at air shows across the country. He retired from performing at air shows in 1999 at the age of 77.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum tweeted, “We mourn the passing of our friend Robert A. “Bob” Hoover, "The Greatest Stick and Rudder Man Who Ever Lived.”

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