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Nov 26, 2019, 12:27 PM
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Jim Smith a total class act will be missed; Loved that guy

As you go through life there are moments in hind sight that define our lives. Meeting Jim Smith in the mid-seventies on the Southern California Soaring Circuit (SC2) was a life changing experience an eighteen year old could have never know. Jim belonged to the Soaring Union of Los Angeles Club (SULA) and was a notable member. My father had ties to that club through the Parzik’s who were the JP Models family (Dart 2 and Javelin) and the most fun guy around Rick Norwood. As the years ticked by the contest traveled all over Southern California while I was in pursuit of the contest wins for the League of Silent Flight. Jim was LSF 1849 and obtained Level 1 on 3/12/76, Level 2 on 2/19/77, Level 3 on 6/21/80, and Level 4 on 7/11/07. SULA always had a strong membership that attended these events. At their Cal State Dominguez field we always had a huge attendance. I was in awe of all the soaring people I saw at these events. Many of them were in the soaring columns or in the news letter sent to my father. Jim was in RCM at one point and that is how I recognized him. My first few attempts at the SULA field were not the best. They had something I had never seen before at my home field called a wave. Jim was the first person to explain how that develops on their field and how to use if for the long duration flights. That changed my techniques on flying in the wind forever.

As the landscape changed due to population expansion in the Los Angeles area his SULA club faced its challenges. The Los Angeles Olympics added a Velodrome next the SULA field and then homes were built to the south. It pretty much ended the clubs hope to maintain a field. SULA’s demise was Silent Wings Soaring Association’s (SWSA) win. Jim joined our club and that is how I really got to know the man inside. There was never a SWSA contest that Jim was not happy to great you with a great big hug. When he was with you there was nothing more important to him. We shared hours of conversation over the 40 years we traveled the soaring circuit together. I have never seen a man who sees the world for what it is as I did from Jim. He made light of all humans because he knew there was no changing it. We talked about family life, friends current and those who had passed on, and he provided me with advice as a person who genuinely cared.

Jim had a sense of style that made you admire him. Occasionally the wind would give you a gentle whiff of his cologne or the sunlight would enhance his Hawaiian shirt for the day. I loved the Cubs shirt when they were on the way to the World Series. For Christmas club events he would wear a Santa Hat to brighten your day. His models had the Iconic polka dots on it he named “Bubbles”. He added the phases to his models from time to time, “Closing the GAP” and “Cloud Teaser” these added that little extra to his machines which made you smile. His bird of choice was the Paragon which he routinely improved and discussed the modifications with Ed Slobod. Jim’s craftsmanship was amazing. His models always were top notch. He made a glider stand that was completely transportable and did the job. He made countless stands for the guys because he loved being active in his friends lives.

As a timer he had that calm voice to talk you through a tough flight. Afterwards if it worked out you had the big embraced because “we” pulled it off. If it didn’t work out there was a practical conversation why it did not and what could be done the next time.

One of the most important things that I learned from Jim is you got to the contest to be with others regardless of how well you do. Jim always went to do his best and be in the moment with those you care about. My most memorable moments with him is the time he gave me a picture he took of me flying that he framed in all white boarders and the time he reached over and wrapped his arm around me at John Rodgers funeral when I was having a tough moment. Had I known as an eighteen year old what I know now forty years later I wouldn’t have changed a thing with Jim but I sure would have appreciated the impact he had on my life and the soaring community even more.

My biggest regret was not insisting we flew the Sailare he completed at the CVRC bent wing event. It is beautiful and is total balsa over cast. The other in not spending more time with him this past Fall Soaring Festival in 2019. We spoke during the event between rounds but I figured we would catch up the following week at our club contest. It was never to be. His battle with the unknown came front and center right after that contest and I never saw him again.

Thanks for the life’s moments “Jimmy”. There will always be a part of you with me : )
Last edited by Keith Kindrick; Nov 27, 2019 at 02:17 PM.
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Nov 26, 2019, 07:58 PM
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Mr. Bubbles

He will be missed...
Nov 27, 2019, 12:18 AM
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Jim Smith

Gosh, my memories of Jim go back to SCSC contests and two day Rose Bowl and CVRC competitions. Probably 35 or so years ago. I was in my 30’s. Every time I saw Jim he had a great smile and huge personality. What a wonderful person. He will always be in my memories. He is unforgettable! God Speed Jim. May your life be a model to us all! My condolences to his family but know that he affected many of us in such positive ways.

Hank Schorz
Nov 27, 2019, 01:29 PM
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Big Jim Smith

This is just not the news I expected for our Thanksgiving 2019... Just broke my heart. Jim Smith was one of the first guys I ever met that had his picture in RCM magazine. Very early 70's... He was always so positive and happy... And always led with a big Hug when you got to see him at a contest. Nice sense of humor too. I will seriously miss him at our soaring events. RIP Jimmy..... Love you always,
PS. Thanks Keith for all the wonderful pictures. They truly capture the essence of Jim Smith..... What an outstanding man...

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