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Celebrating the legacy of R. A. “Bob” HooverCelebrating the legacy of R. A. Bob Hoover


FREDERICK, Md., July 7, 2020−The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has canceled the 2020 R.A. "Bob" Hoover Awards because of the ongoing situation surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. The awards were originally set to take place on March 18 in Washington, D.C., and were rescheduled in conjunction with the National Business Aviation Association's annual BACE convention in Orlando for Oct. 6, which has also been affected by the pandemic.

"The health and welfare of our staff and event attendees remain a priority," AOPA said in a statement. "We continue to monitor the ongoing situation surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic and decisions regarding AOPA events will always be communicated as soon as a decision is made. We look forward to being together again soon to recognize and celebrate the contributions of many notable leaders throughout general aviation."

The 2021 Hoover Awards date will be announced later this year. The 2020 R.A. “Bob” Hoover Awards would have been the fifth-annual awards ceremony and scheduled to honor Burt Rutan during a reception at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s historic Terminal A in Washington, D.C.

The Hoover Trophy honors “aviators whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspire a love of flight in countless others.” Hoover won the first trophy, himself, in 2016 and AOPA has carried on his memory through the prestigious annual awards each year. Other honorees have included Sean D. Tucker, Harrison Ford, and Clay Lacy.

In addition to the Hoover Trophy, AOPA was planning to present the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award, the Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, the General Aviation Safety Award, and the inaugural Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award.

If you would like to transfer your ticket purchase toward a donation to the AOPA Foundation (the AOPA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, tax identification # 20-8817225, all contributions to the AOPA Foundation are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law), please let Patty Miller ([email protected]) know as soon as possible. Otherwise, all paid attendees can expect a full refund within the next couple of weeks.

For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on aviation events, please visit this page.

History of the Hoover Award

AOPA was founded nearly 80 years ago on one simple mission: “Protect the Freedom to Fly”.

No one embodies the spirit of that more than the late R. A. “Bob” Hoover.  A true pioneer, Bob inspired so many with his passion for flight, unbelievable flying skills and his humility. 

The first Bob Hoover Trophy was presented to the late, great R.A. "Bob" Hoover himself in 2016 during the unveiling of the statue in his likeness at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center.

Bob agreed to have his name forever memorialized as a tribute to aviators whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspires a love of flight in countless others.  And AOPA has been entrusted with carrying on his memory through this annual award.

In the words of Bob, “The most important thing any aviator can do is to encourage others to want to fly”.

And that is one of the reasons why all of us here at AOPA share Bob’s passion, and one of the reasons we started AOPA’s You Can Fly initiative.

Sean D. Tucker was awarded the trophy in 2017.  After Sean D. Tucker, Harrison Ford was the recipient in 2018, and Clay Lacy in 2019.   

    photos of the 2019 Bob Hoover Awards at Regan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Other awards presented during this special evening are the Hartranft Award, named after AOPA’s first president and former chairman of the board “Doc” Hartranft. It is given annually to elected or appointed government officials for their significant contributions to the advancement of GA.  It was presented in 2017 to Congressman Todd Rokita (IN); in 2018 to Congressman Ralph Abraham (LA) and Congressman Steve Russell (OK); and in 2019 to Sen. Jerry Moran (KS).

The Sharples Award, named for AOPA’s first chairman of the board, Laurence P. Sharples, is given to people who do not work in aviation but who have made extraordinary contributions to GA.  It was presented in 2017 to Pat Hartness; in 2018 to Ron Dearborn, AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer; and in 2019 to Hawaii State Sen. Kai Kahele.

In addition, the AOPA Air Safety Institute believes that knowledgeable people, well trained and proficient in their craft, operating reliable equipment wrapped in a culture that promotes sound aeronautical decision making, will achieve strong safety performance. They recognize that there are individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary safety enhancements in one or more of these areas for general aviation. We established the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s General Aviation Safety Award to honor those that have delivered exceptional performance in safety to benefit the entire general aviation industry. We not only thank them, but also ensure our industry is aware of their work and its impact. This award was first presented to Dick VanGrunsven of Vans Aircraft in 2018, and in 2019 to Tyson Weihs and Jason Miller of Foreflight in 2019.

In 2017, we honored several members of the United States Congress for their strong support of General Aviation with the 2017 AOPA Freedom to Fly award. We thanked them for their leadership in protecting and growing the lifestyle, business, economic driver, and adventure that is general aviation.