Wally Funk was awarded the 2021 R.A. “Bob” Hoover Trophy at an event hosted by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) on Wednesday. Funk is the first woman to serve as an Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB along with being one of thirteen women to complete Lovelace’s Woman in Space Program, which tested women pilots for astronaut fitness in the early 1960s. She has logged 19,600 flight hours and trained more than 3,000 students during her time as a flight instructor. Funk also went to space as part of the first crewed mission of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule in July 2021.
“One of Bob Hoover’s hallmark lines was, ‘The most important thing any aviator can do is to encourage others to want to fly.’ I can’t think of a more inspirational aviator and a more deserving winner of this year’s trophy,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “There are many, many people, especially women, who have pursued the great passion for flight because of Wally.”
AOPA presents the R.A. “Bob” Hoover Trophy annually to “aviators whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspire a love of flight in others.” The inaugural Hoover Trophy was awarded to Bob Hoover in 2016. Previous winners also include Sean D. Tucker, Harrison Ford, Clay Lacy and Burt Rutan.