Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2018/January 2019 issue
Pilot, general aviation advocate, and actor, Harrison Ford, received the R.A. ‘Bob’ Hoover Trophy at the third annual reception presented by the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) in Washington, D.C., March 21, 2018, in the historic Terminal A lobby of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. In accepting the award Ford said that he was humbled to receive the award named in honor of airshow performer, test pilot and World War II combat pilot, R.A. “Bob” Hoover, an aviation mentor who inspired countless others. Ford then lavished praise for the 2017 award recipient and this year’s presenter, airshow performer Sean D. Tucker, who founded the Bob Hoover Academy in Salinas, California, an after-school program that teaches disadvantaged youth about aviation.
AOPA President Mark Baker noted that the trophy is presented to an aviator who exhibits the airmanship, leadership, and passion for aviation and life demonstrated by Bob Hoover. Ford once rescued a stranded hiker with his helicopter, is past chairman of EAA Young Eagles, flew the 2 millionth EAA Young Eagle, and testified before Congress on behalf of airports. He was also one of the key figures in AOPA’s GA Serves America campaign.
Hoover agreed in 2016 to have his name memorialized as a tribute to those whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspires a love of flight. The showman died in 2016 at age 94 after an illustrious aviation career, and his videotaped message to introduce the honorees appeared to be an emotional moment for both Ford and Tucker.
Other awards presented that evening included the inaugural “GA Safety Award” presented by Richard McSpadden of the AOPA Air Safety Institute to Van’s Aircraft founder, pilot, and engineer, Dick VanGrunsven. VanGrunsven, whose homebuilt aircraft company recently celebrated its 10,000th completed kit, pledged to work with the safety institute and other aviation entities to further the safety for builders and operators of homebuilt aircraft.
Mark Baker presented the “Sharples Award” to Alaska Airport Support Network volunteer, Ron Dearborn. The retired engineer, private pilot, and Bellanca Scout owner, was instrumental in coordinating several initiatives at Fairbanks International Airport.
The Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Jr. Award, named for AOPA’s first president, was presented to U.S. Representatives Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Ralph Abraham (R-La.) for their leadership and support of GA in Congress. Baker thanked the representatives, who spoke out on behalf of general aviation against the privatization of the air traffic control system “when it mattered most!”
AOPA also presented “Freedom To Fly Awards” to four dozen members of Congress for their dedication to preserving GA.