Jerry Smith, native of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a one of a kind 76-year-old man with motivation, determination, and enthusiasm. Smith’s drive and ambition has taken him to new heights, literally.
Smith, a Sales Show Associate/Trade Show Specialist for Spectrum Industries Inc., flies all over the U. S. to set up booths for Spectrum at tradeshows and is always working ahead on the next one. He helps plan and organize tradeshows and sets up all the product once it arrives. Traveling, organization, and assembling products are all duties Smith has mastered, but that’s not the only job he excels in.
For over 35 years, Smith has been a flight instructor, has licensed 55 to 60 pilots, and has 3,500 to 4,000 hours of flying under his belt.
“I have a commercial pilot license with flight instructor instrument ratings,” Smith stated. “Right now, I’m working at Gibson Aviation in Menomonie. It’s a lot of fun.”
When Smith was 36 years old he obtained his aviation license, an unusual age for someone who wants to begin flying.
“One time somebody asked me, ‘why did you want to start flying at your age?’” Smith said. “Typically, if you’re going to become a commercial pilot and fly airlines you have to start when you’re 18 because by the time you’re 25 you need to have about 1,500 hours’ worth of flying. So with that, you have to start young to get all of those hours.”
“Becoming a flight instructor involves learning a bit about instructional design, learning theory, and going into all commercial pilot topics much more in depth,” stated Phoenix East Aviation’s website. “The flight instructor certificate allows pilots to share their knowledge of flight with others while gaining necessary experience to move on to an airline.”
At a young age Smith grew a passion for flying and has taught many people how to fly, including his family.
“When my son was younger he wanted to learn how to fly so I licensed him as a pilot,” Smith stated. “Eventually my grandson, Ryan, wanted to fly. So my son, grandson, and I have all flown the same airplane now. We have three generations flying the same airplane; it’s really neat.”
Smith’s plane that three generations have flow is a Cessne 172. Smith’s 61-year-old Cessne 172, is a small, four seat airplane full of memories cherished by Smith.
His history with Spectrum and involvement in aviation aren’t the only things that contribute to Smith’s uniqueness. He has also spent over 53 years working within education.
Smith’s interest in teaching began in 1959 when he went to UW-Stout and graduated four years later with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Industrial Education. He continued his education and received his Master’s Degree from UW-Stout in 1970 with a Master of Science and Technology. Three years later, he received his graduate degree from UW-Superior in School Administration.
In 1966, Smith taught at Chippewa Falls High School and eventually became Vocational Coordinator and Assistant Principal in 1973. While Smith was still a teacher at Chippewa Falls High School, he also taught at Arkansaw School, now consolidated with Durand. Smith continued to stay in the Northwest region of the state and a few years later became Principal of the Chippewa Falls Middle School. Smith also served as the Assistant Superintendent for Business in Chippewa’s Central Office and served as Superintendent of Bloomer Schools for three years. For 10 years, he worked at Chippewa Valley Technical College as a college Campus Administrator. As part of his job, he also took care of the Neillsville campus until he retired in 2001. Then for one school year, he served as Chippewa Falls School Board President until he retired from that position in 2016.
With an astonishing background working within education, love and knowledge of flying airplanes, and rigorous job as a Tradeshow Specialist, Smith is a diversified man with many characteristics and experiences.