Michael Smith 1945-1986

Growing up on his family's 14-acre farm outside Beaufort, N.C., across the road from the local airport, Michael Smith fell in love with flying. When he was nine or ten, he built a large model airplane of wood and hung it in the yard to use as a swing. Later he earned money for flying lessons by selling chickens and eggs, and soloed in a single-engine Aeronca on his 16th birthday.

By his senior year in high school, Smith had grown into a darkly handsome, athletic six-footer with a quick smile and a head that sometimes failed to come down from...

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