Angle of Attack
Not too long ago Bob Hoover left this world but he left quite a legacy in aviation. Known as “The Pilot’s Pilot” Hoover had an amazing career with fighter planes, experimental aircraft and will always be regarded as one of the greatest pilots who ever lived. Hoover had some incredible stories during the war, one of the most impressive tales how he escaped from a German POW camp by stealing a German plane.
In 1944 Bob Hoover was in his prime flying a Spitfire for the 52nd Fighter Group. During his 59th combat mission, his plane malfunctioned and was shot down by a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in Southern France. Miraculously Hoover survived the crash but was captured by German soldiers and imprisoned in a POW camp. For over a year he endured the horrid conditions of the Nazi soldiers, but eventually, he got fed up with it and plotted his escape.
As the WWII was nearing its end, the camp guards began to dwindle in numbers and Bob Hoover saw his chance. Along with some other prisoners, he staged a fake fight to distract the guards and amid the chaos Hoover jumped over the fence escaped.
“We ran across this airfield and all the planes were damaged or unflyable. But I found one that had a lot of damage but it was full of fuel. I got in the cockpit, didn’t have a parachute but I was in there and I was going and got the engine started. I took off, I didn’t even go to the runway, I went out right across the grass and got airborne.”
– Bob Hoover
We can be thankful that Bob Hoover was brave enough to make that daring escape and went on to live a long life as the Pilot’s Pilot.