March 31, 1997, Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois.
Air South Flight 935 to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is ten minutes from push-back. The lead flight attendant leans into the flight deck and says: "I think we have everyone." The Captain asks: "Full boat?" "Of course." A quick glance over my left shoulder confirms her answer. The cabin looked full. About a third of the way back, on the left side, I see the hat---just the brim and crown; the person's face is blocked by the seat back in front. I say to the Captain: "Someone has a hat like Bob Hoover."
It was my leg. The weather in Chicago was beautiful. The sky was clear, the air was smooth, and the winds were light and variable. Not what you would expect for the last day of March. Myrtle Beach was a different story. Moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet with strong low level winds gusting out of the southwest. It was a sporty approach---and I rolled it on! My best landing ever in the Boeing 737-200. I had about four minutes to feel good about myself---time to taxi to the gate---and then it was back to work.
Air South fancied itself South Carolina's version of Southwest Airlines. The operational objective was point to point travel with thirty minute airport turnaround times. Like most of the upstart airlines in the 1990's, they ran out of money before they could figure it all out. But that is a story for another time---and thirty minutes is not a lot of turn time. As a rule, I tried to complete the post flight walk-around as soon as possible after we blocked in, usually finishing before the last of the passengers could exit the airplane. Such was the case that day in Myrtle Beach. As I reentered the jetway; the guy in the hat was saying goodbye to the flight attendants. As he turned my way, I said: "I know you. You're Bob Hoover!" Shaking my hand, he said: "And you are?" I said: "Bob Cottom." With a twinkle in his eye, he asked: "Was that your landing?" I replied: "Yes it was!" With a giant smile, he said: "Great job!" Then he ambled up the jetway. . . My ten seconds of fame!
|Air South 737-200, Columbia, SC, 1997.|
Sixteen years later. . .
|Mr. Bob Hoover|
Signing prints at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, April 9, 2013.