Enshrined November 11, 2006
Charlie Ray Smith is a native of Kodak, Tennessee who has led a double life… one as an Airline Pilot, and another as a Doctor, and both at the same time! FAA mandatory retirement at age 60 took him out of the left seat as an airline Captain after 36 years with American Airlines, but not out of the Doctor’s office. Today, 17 years later, Dr. Smith continues to practice medicine in Nashville, now primarily as one of Middle Tennessee’s most beloved FAA Medical Examiners. Charlie R. Smith joined the Air Force at the tender age of 17. He later flew a B-29 mission into Korea on the first day of the Korean War, a fact recorded at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. After 57 missions over Korea, at age 23, Charlie Smith was discharged from his distinguished service to his country having earned The Distinguished Flying Cross and Five Oak Leaf Clusters. Smith was hired by American Airlines in 1953 and began flying the DC-6. While flying for the airline, he used his G.I. benefits to enroll in pre-med at UT-Knoxville. He persisted through furloughs and leaves-of-absence through medical school and residencies and graduated from UT’s Medical School in 1965. He practiced Ophthalmology and taught as a Clinical Medical Instructor at Vanderbilt University until 1994. Even though Charlie retired as American’s 10th most senior pilot in 1989 he continues to serve aviation through his private practice of Aviation Medicine as an FAA Senior Aviation Medical Examiner and consultant to the Federal Air Surgeon.
To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com