Two Bozos are better than one

Chief Warrant Officer Richard L. “Hob” Hobson was a Silver Eagle pilot from the inception of the team through the 1973 season, then returned in June 1974 and stayed through the 1975 season.  For most of that time, Hob was “Bozo”, the clown. 

Flying an OH-6A dressed up with a red nose, big eyes, and floppy ears, Hob played the clown’s role with panache.  Whether picking up hoops from a stand, rolling a barrel, or playing with a hundred-pound yoyo, Hob gave the crowd a good laugh aas he filled in time while the rest of the team maneuvered for its next precision maneuver.  Bozo was the best-known and most popular helicopter in the show.  

Good as he was, however, Hob was not always the luckiest guy in the world.  Take for example what happened to him in Milwaukee, WI, on July 27, 1975.  We were performing in Trans-Aire ’75 at Billy Mitchell Field.  A big part of the show was a stationary display of aircraft, including a number of antique aircraft built before 1920.  

The team was housed at a motel just across the western boundary of the airport.  We were scheduled to perform near the end of the show, so some team members, including Hob, watched the first part of the show from the motel parking lot.  At about the same time Hob started to go to the airfield for the team’s performance, the pilot of one of the antique aircraft from the static display decided to head for home.  

Unfortunately, as the airplane crossed the airport boundary, the engine failed.  With no power the plane fell like a rock.  Hob, walking to his courtesy car, looked up and saw the plane coming directly toward him.  He ran to get away from the crashing plane.  Of course he tripped over something and severely sprained his ankle.  Hob was not going to be able to fly in the show that day, but he was more fortunate than the pilot of the antique airplane, who died in the crash.  

Hob was the only pilot on the team who had practiced the Bozo routines, so we did the show without Bozo that day.  When my narrator, Ron Cox told me that I did not have a Bozo pilot for the show, my first response was, “Can we get enough money together to pay his bail?”  Then Ron told me about Hob’s injury. 

Our show that day was very slow, and probably very boring, but I learned a couple of things from it.  First, plan ahead.  Cross train another pilot to perform the Bozo routine.  Second, instruct your pilots to avoid crashing airplanes.