I first met Hoot back in November of 2012. I flew to Las Vegas to interview him for a possible book about his experience with TWA 841. His health and memory were in decline even back then. I spent three days interviewing Hoot, and while I thought he had an interesting story to tell, his inability to remember important details made me reconsider the idea for a book. When I got back from my visit, I discovered three cartons of documents sent to me by Hoot. A few weeks later I received a fourth carton of documents. I soon discovered that inside those cartons was everything I needed to tell Hoot’s story. Hoot had the foresight to save everything related to TWA 841. It took me the better part of a year-and-a-half to go through those documents. It was from those thousands of pages that Hoot sent me that I was able to piece together the missing parts of Hoot’s story.
I’ve been a pilot for a very long time. I have about as many hours of flight time as Hoot had. But Hoot has me beat on a number of fronts. Hoot flew everything from the Ford Tri-motor to the Boeing 747. He flew aerobatics; he flew helicopters, he had a license to fly hot air balloons, and he also had a seaplane license.
In April of 1982, Hoot attended the deposition of one of the NTSB investigators. During a lunch recess, Hoot pulled the investigator aside to have a frank discussion. I talked about that deposition in the post silenced. The lawyer representing the NTSB investigator asked that Hoot be removed. But before that could happen Hoot got a chance to tell his side of the story. That’s when Hoot made the following comment: “I said I was going to pursue this as long as I live if it took that long because we have got convicted of doing something we did not do.” Hoot kept his promise. He knew that one day the truth about what happened to him and his crew would come to light. That day has now arrived – read the book Scapegoat to learn what actually happened (Hint – it’s not the nonsense in the Air Disasters episode.).
I was going to include a picture of a sunset with this post, but I remembered a picture I took recently as we were taking off from Toronto, Canada. As we lined up for takeoff the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the departure corridor. I think this picture is a better way to remember Hoot as he takes off for another journey.
Hoot Gibson 8/6/34 – 01/31/15.
Services for Hoot will be held on Monday February 23, 2015 at 12:40 P.M. at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Veterans Memorial Drive, Boulder City, Nevada, 89005. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Nevada State Veterans Home, NVAL account, 100 Veterans Memorial Drive, Boulder City, Nevada, 89005. After the services, a “celebration of life” will be held at a hanger at the Boulder City Airport.