Oakley M. Smith
SMITH, JR., OAKLEY MEAD, retired airline executive and pilot, died April 18, 2005, of cancer at Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs, California. He was 80 years old. Services will be held Monday, April 25 at 10:30 a.m. at San Jacinto Valley Cemetery in Hemet.
Mr. Smith was born in Hemet, California in 1924. He attended Banning High School, San Bernardino College and the University of Southern California. He was a resident of Anchorage, Alaska at the time of his death, and also maintained a home in Palm Springs.
Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Joan; three children, a son, Oakley M. Smith III, daughters Pamela and Piper Smith; a sister, Barbara Brinton; two brothers, Donald and Harold Smith; two stepchildren, Debby Cryer and Dale Mayfield, and nine grandchildren.
Mr. Smith's distinguished aviation career included civil, military and commercial experience spanning more than 45 years and 32,000 hours of flight time. A consummate pilot, Mr. Smith began flying when he was 16 years old. In 1942, at the age of 18, he joined the United States Navy and flew a variety of aircraft including carrier-based torpedo bombers during World War II.
Following his Navy service he flew cargo and passengers throughout China as a captain for the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) before joining Flying Tigers, a U.S. based commercial airline, in 1950. During 39 years with Flying Tigers, Mr. Smith flew domestic and international routes as a captain on aircraft ranging from propeller-driven DC-4s to B-747 jetliners, was an instructor and check pilot, and held management positions including Director of Flight Operations and Senior Director of Flying.
He was honored for his volunteer participation flying hazardous airlifts of rice to refugees in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 1975.
He retired in 1989 as the airline's senior pilot. Following his retirement from Flying Tigers he served as an aviation consultant investigating airline accidents including the crash of an El A1 B-747 in the Netherlands.
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, California)
Coachella Valley Edition
Sunday, April 24, 2005