Douglas W. Smith
Aviation was a part of my life from age 8. My father taught me the basics of flying before I could even reach the rudder pedals of an airplane! High school found me working at a local airport with a flight school in Texas, whereby for every day I worked washing and fueling airplanes, I earned a one hour flight lesson as payment. I graduated from High School with a Commercial Pilot Certificate before I left for college. My aviation passion never faded, with flying in college and afterwards in Australia for two years.
In 1974 I obtained my flight instructor credentials and after building time and experience, worked my way up the aviation ladder to flying freight and passengers in larger aircraft for Basler Airlines in Wisconsin, including the famous DC-3 from WW II, even flying smokejumpers one summer for the Forest Service in Missoula, MT in the wonderful “gooney bird”. I also flew Jimmy Carter around Illinois in a DC-3 when he was a candidate for President!
Aviation led me to the Chief Flight Instructor position at Auburn University’s School of Aviation in 1976. Within a year, I was hired by Delta Air Lines, and spent 35 years flying as an airline pilot for Basler, Delta, Eos, and Air India, retiring off the Boeing 777 international routes. My total flight time exceeds 35,000 hours.
I remained active as a flight instructor throughout my career, specializing in instructing Private Pilots just starting in aviation, and offering seaplane training as well, on my days off. I served as a Line Check Pilot with Delta , qualifying new pilots on most of the Boeings that Delta flew. When the opportunity to start an aviation program with Vermont Tech arose, I first co-founded the Vermont Flight Academy, applied for FAA approved (Part 141) flight school certifications, and then working with VTC, established the first BS degree in aviation for the state of Vermont. The broad aviation curriculum included ground and flight courses in all the short-comings that I had observed over my career, to include more pilot training with certificates and ratings, specialty training in conventional landing gear aircraft (tail draggers), spin-training and upset recoveries, seaplane training, and high altitude training with hypoxia, simulator training as often as possible, and high performance training, among the regular curriculum courses.
The adjunct professors of Vermont Tech’s Aviation Technology, come to the classroom as former airline pilots, flight instructors, weather experts, and learning and curriculum specialists. We focus and enjoy the process of training the next generation of professional pilots, and the students seem to appreciate the real-world examples in their courses that the faculty often include. Aviation insists on hands-on participation in every subject of the curriculum.
In addition to duties as Aviation Program Director, my participation in additional arenas include:
FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (for VT, NH, ME)
Vermont Aviation Council (Governor appointed)
Flight School Association of North America
University Aviation Association
Aircraft Owner’s & Pilot’s Association
Experimental Aircraft Association – Young Eagles flying
Seaplane Pilots Association, Field Director for Vermont
FAASTeam, Lead Representative for aviation safety workshops
Vermont Aeronautics & Aviation Association
Vermont Chamber of Commerce
Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE)
Assistance Chief Flight Instructor, Vermont Flight Academy
Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) member