Fort Worth’s Doreen Hillard was recognized as the recipient of the prestigious Bob Hoover Wingman Award by the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) during an awards ceremony conducted as part of the 2020 Virtual ICAS Convention Dec. 9.
The award is given each year by ICAS to “recognize individuals and organizations that have served as ‘good wingmen’ to the air show community.”
It was presented to Hillard for the support that she has provided to air shows and air show professionals during the last three decades.
“Doreen Hillard is the kind of wingman that every pilot wants and deserves,” said ICAS President John Cudahy as part of the award presentation ceremony. “And, as an industry, we are very lucky to have her on our wing.”
Hillard was recognized for the role she has played with the Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show for many years, as well as her work with the EAA AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the International Council of Air Shows Foundation.
“To be recognized this way by ICAS with an award that is named after Bob Hoover is both humbling and overwhelming, and I am truly honored,” Hillard said.
Past recipients of the award include Ross Perot Jr., the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and Rudy Malnati from the Chicago Air & Water Show.
Hillard was the wife of the late Charlie Hillard, a Fort Worth automobile dealer and a noted airshow pilot and competitor who was killed April 16, 1996, when his recently restored Hawker Sea Fury flipped on landing after a performance at the Sun-N-Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida. He was a U.S. National and World Aerobatic Champion.
“The airshow community first became acquainted with Doreen Hillard when she married airshow legend Charlie Hillard. It was then that she fell in love with the members of the airshow family. And it was when we fell in love with her.
“But in the years since Charlie’s tragic death in 1996, our family has come to know Doreen as Doreen. Charlie was an airshow legend and he cast a long shadow, but it didn’t take Doreen long to step out from that shadow and establish her own reputation in the airshow business,” he said.
The award is named for the late R.A. “Bob” Hoover, a World War II fighter pilot, a military test pilot, a civilian test pilot and executive with North American Rockwell. He died Oct. 25, 2016.
Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who led the first bombing mission to attack the Japanese homeland during World War II, called Mr. Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived.”
Mr. Hoover was shot down over the Mediterranean and taken prisoner by the Germans, but ultimately escaped, stole an enemy airplane and flew himself to freedom.
“I am both humbled and overwhelmed to receive an award named for the consummate wingman, Bob Hoover,” Doreen Hilliard said. “I am truly honored. However, I am accepting this award for all wingman who put their heart and soul into leading from the wing, to make the magic of flight happen.”
Includes material from The New York Times and the Bob Hoover Legacy Foundation.