I've heard rumors about a pilot who demonstrated that you can pour a drink in the cockpit while doing a barrel roll and not spill a drop. Thanks to the magic of YouTube and an email tip, I have finally seen the video.

Since a barrel roll is a positive G maneuver (properly executed), the story was always believable, but there's something about seeing it for myself that made me smile. :-)

Oh, the other high speed, power off, low flying antics in that video are quite entertaining too.

Posted by jzawodn at May 11, 2006 07:17 AM

Reader Comments
# rr said:

One of the greats if not the greatest. Watched his Shrike demo many times at airshows with my Dad. Good times.

on May 11, 2006 07:35 AM
# Paul said:

Bob Hoover is undoubtably one of the greatest pilots in history. The maneuvers he performs in his Shrike are quite amazing, especially from a pilot's standpoint. There were some recent issues about his medical certification, but I think he is still flying.

Also, the Aeronca Champ looks great. I recently replaced the wing spars in one that is undergoing a total overhaul. I hope the finished product looks as good as the one in your pictures.

on May 11, 2006 07:48 AM
# Kuas said:

That's an amazing video. Anyone happen to know how fast he's going on those power off low passes?

on May 11, 2006 10:26 AM
# Doug Cutting said:

Bob Hoover's Shrike routine at Reno was an annual high point in my childhood. He always outclassed all the manic Pitts Specials, screaming F-16's, etc., with his silent, relatively low-speed, elegant, precision. Thanks for reminding me!

on May 11, 2006 12:54 PM
# msherbalpills said:

Incredibile video.Nice work with your Blog.

on May 12, 2006 04:13 PM
# msherbalpills said:

Incredibile video.Nice work with your Blog.


on May 12, 2006 04:14 PM
# Dan said:

The joys of physics. There are so many cool things that you can do out there to manipulate nature it's uncanny. I still think my favorite has to be the plasma in the microwave with an extinguished candle trick.

Nice find J!

on May 13, 2006 06:52 AM
# Paul Pencikowski said:

In my Navy career, it was an honor to fly with "Hawk" Hawkins (pilot), the most-agressive fighter pilot I've ever flown with. We flew together in both Dallas and San Diego fighter squadrons (as you know, I'm a radar operator so "flying with" somebody means "in the same plane"). Hawk had a zillion combat missions in Viet Nam, a zillion carrier landings.

Hawk's last Navy job was Operations Officer, Naval Air Station Miramar (San Diego). In this capacity *he had full authority over the annual air show*.

One year, Bob Hoover (Shrike) was to perform, and as "part of the rules" every performer had to fly a practice flight (full-routine). Hawk asked Bob Hoover if he could go along, Hoover said "Of course!".

The flight did include the dead-stick barrel-roll to landing. Hawk (not one for overstatement) told us that the maneuver was HIS MOST TERRIFYING MOMENTS IN LIFE. So yeah "energy management" etc but given the source of the statement (Hawk, an edge-of-the-envelope flyer if there ever was one) I must conclude that yes "Hoover is smart" but more-importantly is possibly the most talented aerobatics pilot in history.

Hawk later died in a T-34 accident (his own personal plane). RIP...

Paul P.

on May 15, 2006 10:20 AM
# dav said:


The film was excellent. There is another story about the
chief test pilot at boeing who barrel rolled a 707, while pouring himself a cup of coffee. It is another legendary
story running around. I read an article written by the man's
son in a magazine, where he writes about witnessing the roll during the first flight of the first plane off the assembly line in Seattle. I don't think that was the time he was pouring himself coffee, but there were plent of eye-witnesses to his maneuver. I've seen the video of it, and it is awesome to see such a huge plane doing such a roll.

I also have personally seen at airshows, bob hoover doing the routine that your video shows. Aviation lost a great pilot when Mr. Hoover died. RIP

on May 22, 2006 03:26 PM
# Tbone said:

That's pretty cool. Now if only they could get this worked out on the airlines so i could stop wasting 5 bucks when my drink spills.

on May 22, 2006 04:16 PM
# m. said:

The 707 story is true, the pilot was fired THAT DAY. Later on in the day orders for the 707 started rushing in, as story of the barrel roll spread. End result? Hello jet age.

The 707 pilot got his job back the next day.

Bob Hoover is a great pilot and a great man, my dad was friends with him, and I just knew him as Bob the pilot as a kid.

on May 23, 2006 06:32 AM
# Manfred Humphries said:

Another name for the manoeuvre is an "aileron roll".

Somewhere in my collection, I have a photo of a friend sitting in the backseat of an Aerostar pouring champagne with the Rocky mountains pointing down in the side window...

It is executed by pulling nose-up 10 degrees until the aircraft reaches manouvering speed, releasing all pressure on the column, and rolling the ailerons full left or right with no back pressure. The aircraft falls off as the wing descends, then climbs back as the wing rises, creating a more or less constant 1 g in the cabin. The manouever ends at about 5 degrees nose down. Stating in level attitiude leaves you in about a 25-30 degree down pitch, which causes a lot of acceleration and g force on the pullout - not good for the wings.

Some planes do it better than others - Lears are fabulous, Mooneys are good, Pipers are ponderous and Cessnas are scarey. Don't try it without an aerobatics instructor on board.

on May 23, 2006 08:22 AM
# Ethan Herdrick said:

Here's the real story about the barrel roll of the prototype 707:


There's no coffee involved and the pilot, Alvin "Tex" Johnson (who hailed from Kansas, actually) was certainly not fired although many a heart skipped a beat or two when he did it. He did the roll over Lake Washington during a break in the action of the Seafair hydroplane races which, especially back then, seemed to be attended by most of the populace of Seattle. That was when the economy of the Seattle area was totally dependent on Boeing and Boeing had bet the company on the 707. So you can imagine that as he began his roll, hundreds of thousands of people saw their jobs, the value of their homes, their future, and their children's futures pass before their eyes. After he pulled it off, everyone went nuts. Yet another great moment in the history of a great company and a great city.

on May 25, 2006 02:13 PM
# jim mcgrew said:

hey guys, I just bought a champ to restore and i heard there is a champ expert out there that has some good books with all the info needed to do it right. anyone know who and how to contact this person. Jim McGrew

on June 14, 2006 07:38 AM
# Allen Locher said:

I once saw Hoover at Reno do an exceptional stunt - he overheade the stage are at low altitude, high airspeed with both props feathered, then proceeded to do some vertical stuff off the end of the runway, props still stationary. He ultimately descended, during the maneuver routine, and disappeared below a low hill off the runway end; still stationary props. Everyone held their breath awaiting his re-appearance, which came after what seemd a very long interval. The shrike suddenly rose above the hill horizon line, did a couple more rolls, the gear came out and he landed.
The topper was his rollout, the Shrike exited the runmway, and rolled to the ramp and stopped exactly at the chocks which he had left at the start of the whole routine, props not still unturned!!!

on June 15, 2006 09:18 AM
# Ron Hoover said:

My brother Don and I saw Bob all the time
at airshows down south.
I know he started first flying out of
Hickam Field in Nashville Tn.,I've been
curious if he was related to my Tenn
Does anyone know his email address
or blog site?.
Ron Hoover
in Colorado

on June 22, 2006 02:16 PM
# Ron Hoover said:

When did Bob Hoover pass away?,
Ron Hoover in

on June 24, 2006 03:17 PM
# Larry Beguin said:

I thought he was in Orlando last November for the National Business Aviation Assoc meeting there to help present the Combs Award.

on July 11, 2006 09:24 PM
# Ron Hoover said:

Hi Larry Beguin,
I just read your post.
Where did you hear about Bob Hoover in
Orlando on Nov of 2005?.
I and two other people are trying to
uncover his family history and have found
we think are a lot of leads.
Somebody else on this message board states
that Mr Hoover has passed away?,so far we
haven't found any obits anywhere??!!.
We would appreciate any info from anyone
about Bob's ancestry etc.
Thanks,Ron Hoover
in Colorado

on July 12, 2006 12:36 PM
# Ron Hoover said:

Anyone with info on Bob Hoover
please email Ron Hoover at:

Ron Hoover

on July 12, 2006 12:40 PM
# Brad Polin said:

I too am looking for contact information for Bob Hoover. With help from family members I am researching the life and death of NATC pilot LCDR H.G. Bud Sickel. Bob Hoover and Bud would have spent a great deal of time together while test flying the XFJ-2 Fury for North American Aviation. Mr. Hoover would be able to answer many question I have. If anyone knows how to get into contact with Bob please email me at bradp@3wlogic.net


PS Bob is scheduled to appear at the A and S Museum in Washington on Oct 24--so I assume he is alive and well.

on October 19, 2006 04:15 PM
# Tina Cargile said:

I am Bud Sickel's daugher. Would be grateful for any information you have. I have less than I would wish but can possibly help.

on August 26, 2007 01:01 PM
# Wheels said:

What a superb stick Mr. Hoover is. His flying skills are exceeded only by those of a hummingbird.

on July 10, 2008 02:04 PM
# ruggbutt said:

Bob Hoover, one of my heroes along with General Yeager. There are some things that cannot be accomplished by mortal man but Mr. Hoover shows us that he's not completely mortal.

on April 26, 2010 10:28 AM
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