UNCOMMON WISDOM – BOB HOOVER

Every pilot knows the name Bob Hoover.  He is a master at the controls of any airplane from fighter jet to a single engine prop personal bug smasher.  Bob is famous for his trick of pouring a cup of tea with one hand while putting the plane through a complete roll without spilling a drop.

Years ago piston and turbine aircraft had the same size fuel hoses and a young line boy accidentally filled Bob Hoover’s piston engine aircraft with jet fuel. The engine will run for a while but then it will die.

In Bob’s case, there was enough clean fuel in the lines to taxi out, depart and climb to about 100 feet when the jet fuel caused his engines to quit. The airport (Brown Field outside San Diego) is surrounded with mountains which are probably the worst emergency landing locations imaginable. Bob drew on his skills and landed uphill, stalling right at touchdown, and pilot and passengers emerged unhurt.

Later, Bob returned to the airport and found the extremely red-faced line boy. He looked at him and said “Tomorrow I’ll be back to fly and I’ll need fuel added to my aircraft. And when I do, I only want one person to do it. And that person is you.”

Bob knew that, of all the line men at Brown Field, only one was guaranteed to have learned the seriousness of putting the right fuel in an aircraft.  He also knew how to treat and train a young line boy.  And that’s uncommon wisdom.

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