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


It is our sincere honor to continue furthering Bob Hoover’s legacy by awarding the 2023 trophy to RUSS MEYER, JR!

Russ Meyer Jr. is an aviation pioneer who has blazed an incredible professional career, along with a lifelong focus on helping to build general aviation into the extraordinary passion that so many pilots and aircraft owners hold dearly today.

For his enduring commitment and dedication to aviation, Russ will be awarded the 2023 AOPA R.A. “Bob” Hoover Award on Wednesday, March 20, and we invite you to join the celebration of Russ and all of the award winners that evening.

The Hoover Award is one of the most honored recognitions in all of aviation and is presented as a “tribute to aviators whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspire a love of flight in others.”

A jet pilot with the U.S. Air Force, Russ was the longtime CEO and Chairman Emeritus of Cessna Aircraft and leader of the effort to create the original Citation, which has become the best-selling line of business jets in history.  Russ was a tireless advocate of general aviation, helping to lead the passage of the 1994 General Aviation Revitalization Act, and was involved in various programs throughout his career that aimed at growing and strengthening the aviation industry.

Giving back to the community was always as important as the bottom line to Russ. He conceived the Citation Special Olympics Airlift in 1986, which uses Cessna Citation Jets to transport thousands of disabled athletes to the National Special Olympics.

Russ also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Grumman American Aviation Corporation. He is an accomplished commercial, instrument-rated pilot with more than 17,000 hours of flight time and type rated in all models of the Cessna Citation business jet.

Richard G. McSpadden General Aviation Safety Award will be awarded to John and Martha King. For 50 years, John and Martha King have delivered high quality instructional courses to over a million pilots in training. Through their decades of effort, John and Martha have made flight training accessible, understandable, fun, and undoubtedly safer, for many pilots throughout the world.

Winning the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award is first African- American female pilot for the United States Air Force Theresa Claiborne.

Registration Information

We invite you to join us at a very special evening honoring special aviators.  The event will be held at the historic Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport between 6:30 – 9:30 pm.

The first trophy was presented to the late great R.A. ”Bob” Hoover in 2016, and since then the recipients have included Sean D. Tucker, Harrison Ford, Clay Lacy, Burt Rutan, Wally Funk and Senator James M. Inhofe.

A block of rooms has been secured for this event:  The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City Hotel located at 1250 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA  22202.  The preferred rate will close on February 19, 2024, and does not include parking.  Please identify yourself as part of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Group.  Book your group rate here.

To purchase tickets, please click here.  If you have any questions or require additional information, please email Kelly Haga – [email protected]

We look forward to another great evening.

History of the Hoover Award

AOPA was founded 85 years ago with one simple mission “Protect the Freedom to Fly”

No one embodies that spirit more than the late R. A. “Bob” Hoover.  A true pioneer.  Bob inspired so many with his passion for flight, unbelievable skills, his humility and an anwavering commitment to the aviation community.

The first Bob Hoover Trophy was presented to Bob 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 inspire a love of flight in others.  AOPA has been entrusted with carrying on his legacy 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.”

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

Sean D. Tucker was awarded the Bob Hoover Trophy in 2017, followed by Harrison Ford, Clay Lacy, Burt Rutan, Wally Funk and Senator James M. Inhofe.

Sean D. Tucker tells a story about his mentor R.A. 'Bob' Hoover. Photo by David Tulis. AOPA President Mark Baker and master of ceremonies Sean D. Tucker present retired Sen. James Inhofe with the R.A. 'Bob' Hoover Trophy during the seventh annual reception at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., March 22.  Photo by Rebecca Boone. AOPA President Mark Baker presents retired Sen. James Inhofe with the R.A. 'Bob' Hoover Trophy.  Photo by Rebecca Boone. The R.A. 'Bob' Hoover Trophy. Photo by Rebecca Boone. Guests attend the seventh annual R.A. 'Bob' Hoover Trophy awards reception in Signature Flight Support’s Hangar 7 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., March 22. Photo by David Tulis.

Also in 2021, the late Brigadier General Charles McGee presented the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award to Legacy Flight Academy founder Kenyatta Ruffin.  In 2023 the award was presented to Ramone Hemphill. 

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).  To Sen. Jerry Moran (KS) in 2019, to Sen Tammy Duckworth (IL) in 2020; to U.S. Representative Rick Larsen in 2022; and to Peter Defazio in 2023.

The Sharples Award named for AOPA’s first chairman of the board, Laurence P. Sharples, is given to those who may not work directly in aviation but who have made extraordinary contributions to GA.  It was presented in 2017 to Pat Hartness; 2018 to Ron Dearborn, AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer; in 2019 to Hawaii State Sen. Kai Kahele; in 2020 David DeVries, President and Founder of the Out-Of-The-Blue Scholarship Foundation and Dewey Davenport and Tony Restaino in 2021 and 2022.  Mike Dale received the award in 2023.

In addition, the AOPA Air Safety Institute believes that knowledgeable people, well-trained and proficient in their craft, and operating reliable equipment in a culture that promotes sound aeronautical decision making, will achieve strong safety performance.  It recognizes individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary safety enhancements for general aviation.

We established the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s General Aviation Safety Award to honor those that have delivered exceptional safety performance and innovations.  This award was first presented to Dick VanGrunsven of Van’s Aircraft in 2018; in 2019 to Tyson Weihs and Jason Miller of Foreflight; to Boris Popov, Founder BRS Aerospace in 2020, and Garmin in 2022.  The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers were awarded in 2023.