Aviation author and speaker Frank Kingston Smith died early Wednesday. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Smith was 84.
Smith was one of the most prolific aviation writers of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. His column in AOPA Pilot was often the first page pilots would turn to. He also wrote for Flying and Sport Aviation magazines and was the author of such must-read books as I'd Rather Be Flying, Weekend Pilot, and Flights of Fancy.
"Frank was really a mentor to me," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "His articles and books and audiotapes helped me and encouraged me as I was first learning to fly and as I worked on additional ratings. He had a wonderful way of making me feel that whatever fear or foible I experienced was okay, that it was all part of the common experience of flying."
Smith learned to fly in 1955 as a way to relax from his job as a lawyer in Philadelphia. He soon realized that not only was flying fun, it wasn't nearly as hard as some people said—it was an acquired skill.
In 1965, Smith left his law practice to become the executive director of the National Aviation Trades Association (NATA). It was during his tenure there that he wrote for AOPA Pilot.
In 1975, he returned to law practice, this time with a Washington, D.C., firm that specialized in aviation matters.
Smith stopped flying in 1995 but continued to write occasionally.
He is survived by his wife, Marianne, their three sons, Frank Jr., Doug, and Greg, as well as 16 books and more than 1,000 magazine articles.