Gary Hover was born in Visalia, California March 27, 1946. His dad, Fred Hover Jr. was an active Freeflight modeler joining what is now the AMA in the late 1930’s.
Fred was eventually able to reacquire his original AMA 3200. Gary learned the art of building Freeflight models from his dad. He first joined AMA in 1956 (10522) at the age of 10
and competed in various Freeflight events with his dad traveling 3 weekends a month from Fresno to Bakersfield. He competed in the 1959, 1960 and won 1st in Senior Freeflight at the
1963 AMA Nats. He still has that checkerboard pylon on his desk at home.
1963 Gary designed he first Freeflight called the Blitz, a 696 square inch powered by a Johnson .36 and flown as a “C” class Freeflight. Gary believed the higher you got going straight
up with the 15 second engine runs at the time, the better chance for a thermal. Coupled with a wide glide circle … the concept worked.
Gary took time away from the sport while attending college. He graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s of Architecture Degree in 1971.
Gary met Leonard Ledson in 1973. Lenny had an RC trainer next to his office desk which started a conversation and ultimately Gary’s first experience at RC. Lenny encouraged Gary to build
a Monterey glider as a first model then was taught by Lenny the challenges of learning to fly off of a slope glider hill. Soon, Gary joined the local club, the SLO Flyers and became president
a few months later.
The SLO Flyers were active volunteers at the BARKS Bakersfield F1 Races. Leonard Ledson, an exceptional pilot and mentor to Gary, determined he wanted to fly in the 1974 event. Lenny bought
a Stafford Minnow kit and two K&B F1 engines. With Gary’s help he built the Minnow, but the closer the May race came, the colder Lenny’s feet got. Leonard said to Gary “let’s make a deal” so
Gary ending up with the Minnow and the two engines. Less than a year after his first solo glider flight, Gary was entered in his first F1 race. The Minnow judged a #1, and survived, placing 19th
out of 70 in Standard Class.
Their partnership flourished with Lenny supplying the money and Gary the building. Lenny developed many relationships including one with Kraft Radio's Dave Shadel. Later Dave encouraged Jim
Shinohara to allow Gary to pit with the fledgling Samurai Racing Team and was soon presented with a team shirt, which meant he had arrived.
1977 Gary placed 4th at the AMA Riverside Nats and 3rd at the NMPRA Championship Race in Valkaria, Florida. That 3rd place was lost in a very rainy fly off for 2nd with Bob Smith. The good
news was that both Bob and I won new Seiko digital watches. The bad news was on the flight home, Lenny would ask Shadel ”Hey Dave, what time is it?” Pretty cruel, so the next year Gary and Lenny
presented Dave with his own Seiko. That was Lenny’s way of celebrating his pride in our success.
In 1978, the SLO Flyers hosted their first F1 race. Because of restrictions at the Camp San Luis site, the event was held at Camp Roberts north of Paso Robles, California. The California State
Championship Race was born ultimately replaced Bakersfield as the premier F1 event.
Some of Gary's accomplishments:
- 1981 NMPRA National Points Champion
- Possess six SLO Flyers California Championship “wire” trophies.
- Won the 1984 famed SLO Flyers California Championship Calcutta Race, the first for a Samurai.
- 1983 Appointed as the first AMA RC Pylon Contest Board Chairman
- 1983 Designed the Samurai Kaze which first flew in final round at the 1983 Nats.
- 1983 AMA Nationals F1 Champion
- The Kaze won virtually every major F1 Pylon Race from 1984 through 1998 including in 1987 by F3D World Champion Dave Shadel.
- 1986, designed the Stiletto for FAI F3D competition. The Stiletto borrowed the wing from the Kaze and with its inverted engine proved to be another winner.
- 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1998 Gary won the NMPRA F1 National Championship Race.
- NMPRA President 1988-1989
- The Stiletto won the 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1999 World Championships. A few of these winning racers can be seen in the AMA Museum. In entire 1989 USA team including
returning World Champion Dave Shadel all flew the Stiletto.
- 1989 was a member of the F3D World Champion Team which included Dub Jet, Bruce Richmond and Gary. All four USA pilots placed in the top five.
- 1990, built the first molded wing RC pylon racer through the effort of a friend who had been experimenting with vacuum bagging gliders. Gary provided the wing shape
and his personal airfoil were used to develop the mold. Gary was taught the vacuum bagging process in December 1992 by taking notes as a new wing was being created. Gary
further improved the process and ultimately built over 160 wings.
- Kaze #3, in the photograph with Gary, won the 1990, 1993 and 1998 NMPRA Championship race. This is the third molded wing Kaze built and believed to be oldest surviving
molded wing pylon racer.
- 1991, Gary was approached by friend Steve White to be involved in a Cal Poly Pomona Aeronautics Senior class project to design a better F1 pylon racer. 9 students dedicated 8 month effort to the
project that resulted with the Loki, a mid-wing design the students calculated should reach 205 mph based on 193 mph Kaze test flights. Two weeks later the model was test flown.
The Loki averaged 207 mph using the same engine, propeller, fuel from the original tests. The Loki in the photo debuted at the 1992 AMA Nats winning best of show and proved to be very fas
- 1993 while a member of the AMA’s Property Acquisition and Development Committee, Gary developed the Master Plan for AMA’s 1,000 acre Muncie, Indiana site. The plan was adopted by the AMA
Board of Directors in 1994 and remains the template for developing facility.
- 1995 Gary joined the AMA staff as Director of Facilities appointed by Executive Director Jerry Rouillard.
- 1996 became an AMA Life Member – L10522
- 1996 received the AMA Distinguished Service Award.
- 1998 at the insistence of old friend Ron Schorr, Gary un-retired Kaze #3 again and raced it for the last time winning his 4th the NMPRA Championship Race and the 3rd with Kaze #3.
NMPRA President Dan Kane Presenting NMPRA Hall of Fame Plaque to Gary Hover
Gary Hover With Original Kaze
Gary Hover With Kaze 3
Gary Hover, Bob Pearce, Jim Shinohara, Brian Richmond
Gary Hover's Loki