Member Spotlight – Scott Thompson

by Bruce Estes

This month’s member spotlight is on Scott Thompson, our new EAA Chapter President. Scott has always loved aviation. He fell in love with warbirds at an early age, watched TV programs such as “12 O’Clock High,” and built lots of model airplanes when he was a child. Scott learned to fly at Orange County Airport in 1975, then went on to get lots of ratings, including his CFI. Scott instructed for four years and tried to segue into airline flying by taking a job at a small commuter airline which then went bankrupt six months later. The necessity of providing for his young family and the economics of flying for a living at that time didn’t work, so Scott left the cockpit for a few years. He worked in flight operations at AirCal in Newport Beach and later at Flying Tigers, then based at LAX.

In 1984, Scott got a job as an air traffic controller working first at Oakland Center and then San Jose Tower. In 1990, Scott was able to move back to a flying job working at the FAA’s Sacramento Flight Inspection Field Office (FIFO) where he designed instrument flight procedures. Part of this job required Scott to fly as a copilot of FAA Beech 300 King Airs where they flew some of the procedures that Scott and others had designed. In 1995, Scott got promoted to fly as a full-time Flight Check pilot, the job that Scott still holds today.

So, Scott gets to fly a government owned jet for a living. But not just any jet. Scott flies a LEAR JET. I think everybody knows that a Lear is a really high performance jet. Scott says that “this job is a lot of fun.” It is technical, challenging flying and dives deep into the nuts and bolts of
navigation aids and flight procedures.

Nine years ago, Scott started building an RV-8. His RV-8 first flew in August 2015, and Scott has had the “RV Grin” every since his first flight. Scott looks at his RV-8 as the closest he’ll (probably) get to owning and flying a P-51 Mustang. Scott’s RV-8 is immaculate.

In addition to Scott’s job with the FAA, Scott has also written ten books and numerous articles on U.S. World War II aircraft, particularly the B-17, He was able to dabble with airplanes with big round engines when he got to fly the sole remaining FAA DC-3 (N34) on the airshow circuit for a few years.

I asked Scott about his thoughts as EAA 1541’s incoming President. Scott summed it up by stating that his goals are to continue to build on what has been
accomplished, thus far but also help move the chapter from the “start up” mode to an “established chapter.” Scott recognizes that he will have different challenges than previous presidents. He has lots of thoughts on this task and I know that Scott is up to the challenge.

Thanks Scott for stepping up to the challenge.