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Determination and a Dream: Bob Hoover documentarian Kim Furst wins Combs Gates Award
By Beth E. Stanton
November 18, 2015 - Airplanes have always fascinated Kim Furst. Growing up in Leesburg, Virginia, she spent summers at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. A favorite pastime shared with her dad was lying on the hood of the car parked at the end of the runway at National Airport watching airplanes taking off. Even though she came from a family of airplane buffs, Furst never considered aviation as something she could get involved in. “We didn’t know any pilots so we never intersected with general aviation,” she said. “We were more fans and spectators.”
Furst knew she wanted to be a filmmaker. By “happy accident,” she cut Burt Rutan’s interview for a Discovery Channel program prior to him winning the Ansari XPRIZE. She later went on to edit the independent film One Six Right.
For years, that interview with Burt Rutan stuck with her. She explained, “There came a moment in my career when I needed to figure out what kind of stories I could wake up every morning excited to tell.” Furst decided to strike out on her own. In 2011, as producer, writer, and director, she started a dream project: chronicling the story of Robert A. “Bob” Hoover. In a career spanning seven decades he influenced generations of pilots, and is considered by many to be our greatest living aviator. She was determined to preserve his historic achievements and commemorate the contributions of test pilots and veterans who put their lives at risk pushing the boundaries of aviation to make safe what we now take for granted.
Her film, Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project hit a home run. This award winning film has met with universally positive response and has generated an enthusiastic fan base. Initial screenings were arranged through flying clubs and aviation associations. It has crossed over from a purely “aviation realm” phenomenon to mainstream with two recent sold out screenings at AMC theaters. This past Veteran’s Day, the documentary was shown in 10 theaters nationwide. Promotion of the film has been a grass-roots effort. Word of mouth from fans has been the best advertising as people purchase the DVD and share it with their family and friends. Furst explained, “We’ve don’t have big advertising dollars to take out ads, but we do have passion and people who love the movie.” Furst’s husband, Mark McPherson is director of social media. “It's a family effort,” she said with a laugh. There are approximately 8,000 people on their e-mail list, Facebook, and Twitter followers. “Seven thousand people turned out to see the film at AirVenture 2015 on opening night,” Furst said. “It’s an incredible experience that everyone cares about this story as much as I do.”
In October, Furst received word that she had won the Combs Gates award. The National Aviation Hall of Fame grants this prestigious award for aviation history research and preservation efforts. She was stunned. “It’s kind of mind blowing,” she said. This is a huge honor.” Hoover is delighted. “The film captures my life story in an authentic and accurate way,” He said. “I don’t know how it could have been done any better.”