Hoover Trophy awards ceremony to honor legends

The Hoover Trophy, center, is the centerpiece of the fifth R.A. ‘Bob’ Hoover Trophy awards presented by AOPA. The virtual ceremony will be streamed live on Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., EST. (AOPA photograph by David Tulis)

Famed aerodynamicist Burt Rutan, who designed Voyager, the first aircraft to make a nonstop, non-refueled circumnavigation in 1986, and SpaceShipOne, which made three successful suborbital spaceflights in 2004, will be honored with the prestigious R. A. “Bob” Hoover Trophy Award.

Rutan has designed 49 manned aircraft, 25 of which the public can view in museums worldwide; 17 are still flying.

“Rutan’s work and life represent the airmanship, leadership, and passion for aviation demonstrated by his good friend Bob Hoover,” said the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, announcing Rutan as the Hoover trophy winner. The first trophy was presented to Hoover himself in 2016, Sean D. Tucker in 2017, Harrison Ford in 2018, and Clay Lacy in 2019. Rutan was announced as the winner in 2020, but the awards ceremony was postponed until this year because of the pandemic.

During the awards ceremony, AOPA will present the inaugural Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award to retired Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Presentation of the award announced in 2020 was delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to honoring McGee with the first award, AOPA will also present it to its second recipient, U.S. Air Force Maj. Kenyatta Ruffin, an F–16 pilot and commander of the 71st Operations Support Squadron. Ruffin founded the nonprofit Legacy Flight Academy, which helps youth discover their passion for aviation careers and hosts programs that draw upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Aviation pioneer Burt Rutan (Scaled Composites photograph by Michael Mills)

AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden will present the GA Safety Award to Boris Popov, founder of BRS Aerospace. The company’s whole-aircraft parachute rescue system has saved more than 400 lives. More than 35,000 systems have been installed on experimental, sport, certified, and military aircraft. The award honors those who “have delivered exceptional performance in safety to benefit the entire general aviation industry.” The GA Safety Award was first presented to Dick VanGrunsven of Van’s Aircraft in 2018, and to Tyson Weihs and Jason Miller of ForeFlight in 2019.

The event, which is typically limited to 200 people and takes place in the historic Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., is free and open to everyone through the livestream. The awards presentation will start at 8 p.m., EST, on Feb. 3 and will last about one hour. You can set a reminder to watch the livestream at https://www.youtube.com/c/aopalive/live.

Editor’s note: Article reprinted with permission from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, www.aopa.org.

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