Hank Francis Bond-Hale (born April 18, 1957 in Mesa, Arizona) is an American Pilot and the Michael Schumacher of the WHRC. He has won 8 titles between 1993 and 2010, something which hasn't been matched since. He competed to 1984-1997 and again in 2000-2014.
Bond-Hale was born in Mesa, Arizona to Austin Bond-Hale (who was also a pilot) and Samantha Wendoline Bond-Hale (a budding novelist). Bond-Hale's father was the inspiration to his successful piloting career.
Tragically, Bond-Hale's father was killed in a fiery accident in 1963 in which his helicopter spun out of control after clipping the control tower and crashed to the ground. Despite this, Bondhale quickly forgot about it, and slowly developed an obsession for helicopters.
Bond-Hale is married to Jocelyn (nee Johnson) and has two children, Tanner (b. 1988) and Hank Jr. (b. 1992). Tanner raced in the series between 2010-2011 alongside his dad and even won the HR2 Series in 2007.
Bond-Hale made his debut in 1984 in the U.S. Grand Prix as a wildcard, in which he stalled at JFK Airport and had to wait 21 minutes for his helicopter to work again. He finished 24th and last.
He would not race again in the WHRC until 1991, in which he scored his first win in the Japanese Grand Prix, and would win the first of his nine titles two years later in 1993. He won every race in the 1994 season and almost did it again in 1995 until he was beaten in the last round by Finland's Hugo Seppänen. Bond-Hale still won title No. 3 anyway.
Bond-Hale retired from active competition after the 1997 season. This absence lasted for two years until he returned in 2000 and surprisingly won his first race back, along with the title. He would win in 2001 and 2002 as well, taking yet another title in 2006.
He very nearly won the 2009 championship until his helicopter caught fire in the title decider and Bond-Hale jumped from the burning copter, fortunately equipped with a parachute; it is customary in the WHRC that every pilot must bring a parachute to any race weekend to prevent pilot casualties such as his father Austin. Danilo Pinto of Brazil would be the 2009 champion.
Bond-Hale recovered from this and won an unprecedented eighth title in 2010. He signed up to race for the 2014 season with no plans to retire again despite being well into his fifties. But, he retired again at the end of the year, feeling he was too old to continue. Bond-Hale fans protested but this was the end.
- Hank Bond-Hale is the most experienced pilot in WHRC.
- He won the Austin Bond-Hale Trophy, named in honour of his fallen dad, in 2010 and has kept it in the basement of his home ever since. The trophy is awarded to the highest-placed American pilot in the standings.
- Bond-Hale's preferred manufacturer is Boeing.