Master Sergeant Roy W. Hooe was initially inducted into the Airlift/Tanker Hall of Fame in 2001, however, due to the cancellation of the 2001 Airlift/Tanker Association Convention and Symposium caused by the cowardly 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he was“officially” inducted and honored during the Hall of Fame Banquet at the 2002 Convention and Symposium.
Master Sergeant Hooe was born in Charles Town, West Virginia, on 27 October 1892, and enlisted with the 14th Observation Squadron, U.S. Army Air Service in April of 1920. He was assigned to Headquarters Detachment Air Service, Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. throughout his long and distinguished Army and Air Force career, from 1921 until his retirement in 1950. During the summer of 1921, Sgt. Hooe was the aircraft engine mechanic assigned to Col. Billy Mitchell during tests of aerial gunnery and bombing conducted on captured German Navy ships. During this assignment he served on the crew of the first aircraft to drop a bomb down the smokestack of a ship.
In May and June of 1927 Sgt. Hooe was the Chief Mechanic (crew chief) for Lt. Lester Maitland and Lt. Albert Hegenberger on their cross-country flight and prepared their aircraft for the first flight from California to Hawaii. In December of the same year he prepared Charles Lindbergh’s Ryan plane the “Spirit of St. Louis” for a good will flight to Mexico City. For 151 hours beginning on 1 January 1929, then Staff Sergeant Hooe was responsible for keeping the famed “Question Mark” aloft during a record-setting endurance flight, which at one point required him to go outside the aircraft on a catwalk to make engine repairs. In addition to serving as “airborne mechanic” SSgt. Hooe operated the pump that transferred fuel from the cabin tanks to the wings. Along with the rest of the “Question Mark” crew, which included Maj. Carl Spaatz, Capt. Ira Eaker, 1st Lt. Harry Halverson and 2nd Lt. Elwood Quesada, SSgt. Hooe received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation in the flight.
In 1931, Sgt. Hooe was again Chief Mechanic for Capt. Ira Eaker when he attempted to set a west-to-east, non-stop, cross-country flight. Feeling it would be difficult for Capt. Eaker to exit the Y1C-17 should the plane flip over during a rough landing, Sgt. Hooe provided him with a hatchet which saved the pilot’s life when his engine iced-up and forced a crash landing during which the plane did indeed flip over.
During his long aviation career Sgt. Hooe also served as a crew chief for other aviation pioneers including Ameila Earhart. Master Sergeant Hooe retired from the Air Force after 30 years of service in April of 1950. Following his retirement he was active in the affairs of his native Charles Town, West Virginia, serving as Chief of Police at one point during the Korean conflict.
Master Sergeant Roy W. Hooe died at the age of 78 on 18 April 1973 and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.