Text and Photo by Bruce Estes
If you have been to an EAA Chapter 1541 function where food is being prepared, you have seen Dug Smith. Dug always seems to be helping with the
cooking. What you have not seen is all of the work that Dug does behind the scenes on other EAA projects. Dug keeps our website going, prepares flyers for events, helps with the mailing list, helps with hangar maintenance, is on the Board of Directors for EAA 1541, and is always assisting with an EAA project. Dug is everywhere that work needs to be done. Dug was awarded the EAA 1541 M.V.P award for 2016, which he obviously deserved.
Dug started flying in 1985 in England. In England, the Royal Air Force provides a few hundred scholarships each year to attend a flying school in order to learn to fly, before you’d join the service. So, at the age of 17, Dug met the RAF qualifications, passed a battery of tests, and went
on to a civilian flying school to obtain his Private Pilot’s License thru an accelerated and intense training program. Dug says that obtaining the license in England was similar to the process in the U.S. Dug was all set to become a pilot in the RAF when disaster struck. Dug was involved in a motorcycle crash that was not his fault, but severely injured the nerves in his right arm. Dug was no longer able to become a military pilot in the RAF.
Dug did not stop flying. Dug bought a microlight airplane and got approval from the CAA, which is the English equivalent of the FAA, to modify
the airplane with a special throttle so Dug could fly with one hand. Dug compares the process of dealing with the CAA unfavorably to that of dealing with the FAA. Lots of government interference with little communication between government departments. Having moved to the US, he had first an ultralight, and then a Light Sport aircraft. Dug still flies his airplane out of Lincoln Airport.
Dug came to the U.S. in 1998. Dug explained that he can fly in the U.S. under his English pilot’s license, but to keep his license current, he has to keep his U.K. medical current. These are similar to the U.S. requirement except the medical has to be administered by a doctor licensed in England. To satisfy the requirement, it entailed a trip to Phoenix every time Dug needed a medical. Phoenix was the closest location that has a doctor licensed in England that could do the medical. Dug states the obvious that “this was a pain,” So, Dug applied for and passed the test in the U.S. to obtain his Sport Pilot License, which does not require a medical.
Dug currently owns and flies a Flightstar IISL, powered by a 2 stroke Rotax. The empty weight is approximately 500 pounds, has a top speed of about 80 mph, and can carry Dug and one passenger. Dug says that this is fun, inexpensive, simple flying. It is cheap enough to operate that you don’t need a reason to fly. He can just go out and have fun, which Dug does a lot of.
Dug makes his living by providing computer software support for his employer. Dug is fortunate in that he can work out of his house most of the time. So, if you are at one of our meetings, and you hear an English accent, say “Hi” to Dug. EAA 1541 is very lucky to have Dug as one of our members.