What started off as a fun experience shared between a father and son turned out to be that and then some when Brian Hoover took third place in the Silver bi-plane division of September’s National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, while also winning the event’s rookie of the year award.
Both Brian and his father, Al, fly professionally, but in a very different fashion than the bi-plane racing they enjoy during their free time. Al is a pilot for Southwest Airlines, while Brian is a corporate pilot for Biomet. Brian said that his grandfather, Al’s father, was a pilot during World War II, and that flying is part of his DNA, chuckling that “between the two of them I was pretty much toast.”
Several others from the area traveled to Reno to lend a hand to the Hoovers and their plane, “The Whip.” The team’s crew chief was Warsaw native Jim Holbrook, who has built at least three planes on his own, and fixed several others. Joining Holbrook on the crew was Winona Lake Postmaster Dan King, who rode all the way out to the event on a motorcycle in order to be apart of the race.
Racing bi-planes usually carry an average racing speed of 200 miles per hour, at heights between 50 and 100 feet. The Hoovers are planning to bring a second bi-plane with them next year so that they each have their own and can become the first father-son duo in competition history to race against each other. “It’s like our Christmas” Al said of the event, “We loved the experience.”