EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame
The history of aviation is marked by men and women who possessed the passion, the leadership and the can-do spirit to ignore the known limits of possibility.
The EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame was established to honor the outstanding achievements of men and women who share the spirit of EAA’s founder: a passion for the freedom that flight offers. Those inducted into the Hall of Fame are selected by their peers for the myriad of contributions made to their particular realm of flight – and aviation as a whole.
Bringing together EAA’s Boards of Directors, Divisions, Affiliates and Councils, the Hall of Fame is a tribute to the pioneering spirit and innovation that has marked the evolution of flight, a spirit that is nurtured and promoted throughout EAA’s membership. The event also reunites past honorees to celebrate their collected achievements.
EAA welcomed and honored six new members to its 2009 Hall of Fame, recognizing their contributions to the history, development, and growth in their different areas of sport aviation. View the photo gallery.
Robert A. “Bob” Hoover – International Aerobatic Club Inductee (see video)
George H. Baker – Warbirds of America Inductee (see video)
Lance A. Neibauer – EAA Homebuilders Inductee (see video)
Roy Pinner – EAA Ultralights Inductee (see video)
Paul Sanderson – National Association of Flight Instructors Inductee (see video)
Stephen Pitcairn – Vintage Aircraft Association Inductee (see video)
These inductees capture the spirit of EAA and its community. Through their efforts and passion, they’ve become an inspiration for aviation enthusiasts around the world.
Robert A. “Bob” Hoover – International Aerobatic Club Inductee
Robert A. “Bob” Hoover was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1922 and became inspired by aviation when Charles Lindbergh, who would later become his friend, made his historic trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. At age 15, Hoover began taking flying lessons, paying for them with the money he earned bagging groceries. As soon as he was able to fly solo, he began performing aerobatic maneuvers with planes that weren’t designed for it, working his way up to Cuban-eights, Immelmanns, and hesitation rolls.
He joined the Tennessee Air National Guard in 1940 on his 18th birthday. After thoroughly impressing the instructors and his commanding officer during his first orientation flight, he was asked to put on a 30-minute demonstration for the other cadets on graduation day. Unwilling to become a transport or bomber pilot, he slipped the sergeant in the personnel office $20 to switch him to fighter duty.
During World War II, Hoover was shot down in his Spitfire and captured by the Germans. After more than 15 months of imprisonment, he escaped the prison camp Stalag Luft 1 in April 1945 and commandeered a German Focke-Wulf 190, which he flew to Holland. There he was picked up by an English truck driver. By that time, the war was nearly over, and he headed back to the United States.
Upon his return to the United States, he enrolled in test pilot school, after which he flew everything from the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star to the Northrop N9M flying wing.
Hoover went to work for North American Aviation in 1950, where he tested and demonstrated the company’s civil and military aircraft. When the company merged with Rockwell International in 1968, he began demonstrating its Shrike Commander twin-engine business aircraft, and production demands increased from one a month to eight.
In 1964, Hoover served as the first official starter at the Reno National Championship Air Races, a role that he continued for three decades. He also served two terms as president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and is the namesake for the Hoover Bill that passed in 2000, which gives an FAA certificate holder the right to immediately appeal an emergency certificate revocation to the National Transportation Safety Board. Most recently, in 2003, Hoover co-founded Jet Fleet International, which sells products and services to jet owners at discounted prices.
George H. Baker – Warbirds of America Inductee
George H Baker was born January 19, 1930 in Hawthorne, NJ and has been flying since the age of 16. He soloed in 1946 while in the eleventh grade in high school. At the age of 20, he started in the aircraft restoration profession, starting with a Culver Cadet.
George is well known for his restoration work on Beechcraft T-34’s and flying his aerobatic routine in the unique Curtis-Wright R-3350 powered Hawker “Sky Fury”.
Over the years George has won numerous awards for his T-34 N341GB, including Grand Champion Warbird at EAA AirVenture 2000, along with Reserve Grand Champion at the 2001 & 2002 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-Ins. He was also awarded the Golden Wrench for his meticulous restoration work. In 2004, he won a Preservation Award at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In. George has also travelled the globe to recover and restore a number of warbird aircraft.
He is also recognized for his efforts to inspire future aviators, mechanics, and other warbird enthusiasts, by sharing his vast knowledge of aviation and restoration work.
George has been a member of EAA Warbirds of America since 1974 and was a founding member and past commander of the Valiant Air Command. He has served as the chief pilot for NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway and has flown over 100 different types of aircraft, accumulating over 20,000 hours of flying time.
Lance A. Neibauer – EAA Homebuilders Inductee
Lance A. Neibauer is the founder of Lancair International Inc. and the designer of its line of aircraft. He began his career as a graphic designer, after receiving his degree from Michigan State University in 1971. Neibauer gravitated toward aviation in the late 1970s when composite structures began to appear. He already had a strong family background in aviation through Meyers Aircraft, where his uncle had collaborated with the company to build the Meyers 200, and put his design skills to work on planes.
Neibauer’s fi rst aircraft, the Lancair 200, was test fl own on June 26, 1984, in Chino, California. In 1994, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed a Lancair in its lobby as a design work of art. Other honors he has received are the August Raspet Memorial Award for the advancement of light aircraft design from the EAA; Top Ten U.S. Designers/Engineers, Designer News; President’s Award, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association; Top Ten Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Magazine; and numerous others.
Neibauer has been president and CEO of Neico Aviation Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of kit aircraft; Lancair International Inc., the distributor for the product line; Advanced Composite Technologies, a Philippine manufacturing company formed to build composite components and preassemble kits; and Pacifi c Aviation Composites LLC, which was the fi rst company to design and certify a new generation of general aviation four-seat aircraft in more than 30 years. All of his companies were sold in 2003, but the Lancair legacy remains today in homebuilt kits by Lancair International Inc. and an advanced line of composite aircraft by Cessna Aircraft Company.
Roy Pinner – EAA Ultralights Inductee
Roy Pinner started in aviation as an 8-year-old playing with a rubber band-powered balsa model airplane. He worked his way up to radiocontrolled models, finally designing and building his own model aircraft in his late 20s for competition. In 1977, he competed in the United States Radio Control Aerobatic Masters Tournament. During a ski trip that year, he saw a powered hang glider flying around nearby. It piqued Pinner’s interest, and he decided to build his own.
In 1979, he purchased a Hummer ultralight kit, and after building it, he took it to the EAA fly-in convention and won Reserve Grand Champion. The following winter he designed and built the single-place Drifter. He flew it the following summer and winter. In 1983, he designed and built a prototype Double Drifter with a friend and later put it into production in kit form. The Double Drifter is still produced and sold today.
Pinner started an electrical business in 1973 and retired in 2002. He and his wife, Rocky, have four children: Troy, Greg, Todd, and Scott. He received his private certifi cate in 1970, his instrument rating in 1974, and his seaplane rating in 2000. He has logged approximately 4,000 hours.
Paul Sanderson – National Association of Flight Instructors Inductee
Paul Sanderson began his career as an aviation instructor in the Navy during World War II. He went on to start his own ground school, offering pilot rating courses from which the Sanderson Training System was developed. By 1968, more than 3,000 schools were using the Sanderson Courses in their fl ight training. The system helped make aviation ground instruction accessible and affordable. His programs and work became part of the basis for the Jeppesen fl ight training products that are used throughout the world in aviation education.
Fifty years later, Sanderson’s basic training approach is still being used with success. His involvement in aviation education has been attributed with helping significantly grow the pilot population in the United States. The result of the programs that started with Sanderson was the training of millions of pilots.
His company, Sanderson Films, was sold to Times Mirror Company, which eventually merged with Jeppesen to form Jeppesen- Sanderson, now owned by Boeing. Jeppesen continues Sanderson’s legacy of providing pilot training and reference materials. Sanderson has been recognized by the National Aeronautic Association as an Elder Statesman of Aviation for his contributions to the aviation world.
Stephen Pitcairn – Vintage Aircraft Association Inductee
Stephen Pitcairn, the son of the famous Harold Pitcairn, preserved his father’s legacy by restoring Pitcairn aircraft and donating to many aviation endeavors. He had a deep love for aviation and attained his pilot’s certificate around 1940.
Because of the effects of a childhood illness, Pitcairn was rejected from military service, but he was able to fly with the Civil Air Patrol along the East Coast of the United States searching for enemy submarines. For a short time he flew DC-3s for Eastern Air Lines. In the 1950s he was denied his FAA medical certificate. During this time he put his energies toward antique cars. When he finally got his medical certificate back, in the 1970s, he began buying and restoring Pitcairn aircraft.
Stephen Pitcairn served EAA as a member of the EAA Foundation Board of Directors from 1982 through 1990. After the restoration of EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor was completed, a donation by him made possible the construction of EAA’s Pitcairn Hangar on Pioneer Airport. The hangar serves as a fitting home for the Tri-Motor, and is a place to tell the story of his father’s company, Pitcairn Aviation. It serves as a grand location to display the other aircraft he has donated to EAA over the years; the PA-39 Autogiro, the PA-7 Sport Mailwing, and Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro “Miss Champion.” He also made possible the restoration of the 1928 Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-1 Autogiro accomplished by Posey Aviation, donating the historic rotorcraft to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum’s collection. Preferring to keep his philanthropy quiet, Pitcairn donated to many museums, and gave of his resources to preserve the history of aviation, making his contributions with little or no fanfare.