Oh, what an aviation life to have lived. Robert “Bob” Hoover left us on Tuesday at age 94, but his legacy will remain in fighter pilot lore for generations. When you have fighter pilot legends brag on you, you must have been something special.

Jimmy Doolittle, the World War II hero, aviation pioneer, and commander of the famous Dolittle Raid on Japan called Mr. Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived.” General Chuck Yeager, the most famous test pilot of all time, described him as the “greatest pilot I ever saw.”

It is hard to believe one fighter pilot could garner such a reputation–but it was well earned through a life in aviation that spanned over 60 years.

Bob had the ability to elevate his flying to an art form. His graceful loops, vertical climbs, four-point rolls and half Cuban eights painted the sky like the smooth broad strokes of a painter’s brush. It was enough to captivate millions of people and influence thousands of others to fly professionally.