Washington, DC, Aug. 6, 2014 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is pleased to announce that Robert A. (Bob) Hoover and R.W. (Bill) de Decker will receive NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award and John P. “Jack” Doswell Award, respectively. The awards will be presented this October at the 2014 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2014) in Orlando, FL.
Famed air show pilot Bob Hoover has had a long and distinguished career, first as a combat aviator during World War II, then serving as a military and civilian test pilot and longtime air show performer. Recognized by his signature wide-brimmed straw hat, Hoover is often referred to as “the pilots’ pilot.” Jimmy Doolittle, a fellow aviation pioneer who served in the United States Air Force, called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”
During World War II, Hoover was shot down and spent 16 months as a prisoner of war before escaping by commandeering a German fighter. Upon returning to the United States, he evaluated captured enemy aircraft and flight-tested U.S. combat airplanes, including the first jets. As an alternate pilot for the supersonic Bell X-1, Hoover flew the chase plane when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. During his military career, Hoover’s citations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit and the Prisoner of War Medal, among others.
After leaving the Air Force in 1948, Hoover became a civilian test pilot, working for North American Aviation and Rockwell International for more than three decades. Considered a founder of modern aerobatics, Hoover, who has piloted more than 300 types of aircraft, is best known for his jaw-dropping aerial demonstrations in the P-51 Mustang and Shrike Commander.
Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988, Hoover regularly attends NBAA's annual convention, where he joins other legendary aviators in presenting the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s Combs Gates Award, which is named for business aviation leaders Harry Combs and John Gates, and recognizes aviation history, research and preservation efforts.
Commenting on the award to Hoover, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said, “Bob Hoover is well established as one of the world’s most accomplished aviators. He has been an inspiration to multiple generations of pilots, including business aviators, and has been an active participant in NBAA’s convention for many years. We are honored to bestow upon him our Association’s highest honor, in recognition of his long, illustrious career.”
Bill de Decker
Bill de Decker is chairman of the board of Conklin & de Decker, the aviation research firm that has been providing comparative aircraft acquisition, ownership and operating cost data and analysis – including the Aircraft Cost Evaluator and Aircraft Performance Comparator products – for 30 years.
Educated as an aerospace engineer, de Decker began his career in 1962 as a design engineer on the Apollo moon landing program, followed by a stint at Boeing doing helicopter design work and cost analysis. He worked for Dassault Falcon Jet from 1970 to 1976, selling aircraft and establishing a jet transition program, as well as the company’s international marketing department. From 1976 to 1989, de Decker managed FlightSafety International’s Falcon and Bell Learning Centers, in addition to the company’s Communications Systems Division. In 1989 he partnered with the late Alan H. Conklin to form Conklin & de Decker.
De Decker served on NBAA’s Associate Member Council from 1999 to 2005, and in 2008, NBAA and his firm established the Alan H. Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship, which each year provides $5,000 to an undergraduate student who is pursuing a career in business aviation management and is enrolled in an aviation management program at a University Aviation Association-member school.
Commenting on the award to de Decker, Bolen said, “Bill de Decker has been a strong supporter of NBAA since the 1970s. As the leader of a company that pioneered the development of objective aircraft cost and operating data, he has performed an invaluable service to the industry which has contributed to advancing the professional and efficient management of business aircraft.”
First presented in 1950, the NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation is one of the aviation industry’s most prestigious honors. Candidates for the award must be individuals who, by virtue of a lifetime of personal dedication, have made significant identifiable contributions that have materially advanced aviation interests. Previous Meritorious Service to Aviation Award winners include Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle and Bill Lear.
NBAA established the Doswell Award in 1987 to recognize lifelong individual achievement on behalf of and in support of the aims, goals and objectives of business aviation. It is named for Jack Doswell, a renowned World War II combat veteran, business pilot and flight operations director who was actively involved in many NBAA initiatives throughout the 1970s, and whose gifts inspired a high standard of involvement in the business aviation community. Previous Doswell Award winners include Robert Breiling, Dick Van Gemmert and Chuck McKinnon.
NBAA2014 will take place from Oct. 21 to 23 in Orlando, FL at the Orange County Convention Center and nearby Orlando Executive Airport (ORL).