A major fundraising campaign officially kicked off on Wednesday at EAA with the goal of building and maintaining a perpetual trophy named for Robert A. “Bob” Hoover that will be “given a special place of honor in Washington, DC”. Hoover, the man whom General James Doolittle called “the greatest stick and rudder pilot who ever lived”, is as well-known and respected for his good works on the ground as for his feats in the air. He has mentored thousands of military, civilian, air race and airshow pilots and he is renowned for his graciousness towards all people he meets.

Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, GAMA’s Pete Bunce, John Cudahy of the International Council of Airshows, NBAA’s Ed Bolen and EAA chairman Jack Pelton all stood up on Wednesday for the announcement.

“Please join us in honoring Bob Hoover. That’s why we’re here. We came up with a plan about a year ago to create this trophy and put in place in a museum in Washington, DC where it will be enshrined . . . . Our objective is to raise $600,000 to pay for a life-size bronze statue of Bob and to fund it in perpetuity. The Bob Hoover Memorial Trophy is a fitting recognition of his many accomplishments. We’re asking for your assistance in doing this. We’d like to do this very, very soon,” Herrick said.

Each contributor will be able to have his or her name put into a time capsule in the base of the life-size statue. The capsule will be opened 100 years after the trophy is dedicated. Donors who make more sizable contributions will be able to include additional commemorative documents or memorial remembrances in the time capsule.

“We want this trophy for a man whom we all respect so much, enshrined in our greatest [aviation] museum. Think about what this means. All of us who have ever been involved in aviation, who fly or want to fly are inspired by this great American. This trophy is all about inspiring the next generation, to have something for people to look at and say ‘That’s what I want to be’. That’s the best that there ever was,” says Bunce.

Hoover trophy proponents want it to be awarded annually to a person whose flying skills not only are top notch, but who gives back to the community by mentoring, inspiring and encouraging young people to better their lives by learning to fly or embracing STEM education. “Airmanship, leadership and passion” will be bedrock requirements for winning the Hoover trophy. Winners’ names will be featured along with Hoover’s on the award.

Herrick passed out envelopes soliciting contributions and he said that donations also are being accepted at BobHooverTrophy.org. Five minutes later, people were pulling out their checkbooks. One anonymous donor popped for $50,000, prompting Herrick to say “We’re well on our way.”