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Andrew James Smith

AJ was a very successful architect in the Detroit area, owning his own major firm (Smith and Gardner) that designed many award-winning structures from airport terminals to major office complexes across the US. AJ's artistic flare from his architecture background, combined with his engineering knowledge of sailplane aerodynamics, enabled him to design an extremely efficient racing airplane in the early 80's which rocked the racing world of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The plane - the AJ-2 - was designed to compete in a new efficiency race the Oshkosh 500 sponsored by the EAA. The plane dominated the race from its first entry in 1981 and each succeeding year for seven years. The sponsors of the race eventually changed the rules, rendering the plane no longer competitive - the plane is now headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

AJ grew up in Tecumseh and graduated from Tecumseh High School in 1942. After high school, AJ began working for NACA (now NASA) as a model builder at Langley Field, Virginia. He then served in the Navy during WWII, flying Corsairs off aircraft carriers for two years in the Atlantic. From 1946-1951 he attended the University of Michigan acquiring an architectural engineering degree.

Although AJ had not been active in soaring for several years, he always stayed abreast of the competition scene and the development of new-generation sailplanes. His heart was - and will always be - with the competition soaring pilot.

Posted: 9/23/2004 By: General News

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