Former Air Force pilot shares love of aviation as ‘Dr. Aviation’

Aviation education web site combines love of flight with teaching

Much of the time, Daryl Smith goes by the title of “associate professor of management” at Cedarville University.

But the former Air Force officer has another title that he likes: “Dr. Aviation.”

Smith is the educator behind the Doctor Aviation web site (, which offers students of any age and inclination an online aviation education, via 15 lectures on facets of flight.

The site has drawn viewers since 2016, with about 150 subscriptions in that time.

Smith brings to the site a 24-year career in the Air Force. The Petersburg, Ky. resident flew around the world on multiple airframes while in the service — the KC-135 air refueler, a NKC-135 (which he flew at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), T-37, T-38, T-41, T-3 and TG-7.

He first soloed on a T-41 at the age of 21. It’s rather sobering when one’s flight instructor gets out of the plane and shuts the door for the first time, the Air Force Academy graduate said.

“My instructor got out of the plane, shook my hand, shut the door and off I went,” Smith recalled with a laugh. “All of a sudden I’m like, ‘OK, Lord, it’s you and me in here now.’”

“I loved flying,” he added. “I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

So much as so that he wanted to share that love.

He was teaching in a graduate program in Cincinnati when a former student recommended a book called The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau. Smith started thinking about pairing his love of aviation with his vocation of education.

“I don’t know if you want to call it an ‘epiphany,’” Smith said. “What are the two things I’ve done vocationally in life? I’ve flown airplanes, loved that, and I’ve taught at the university level.”

From that inspiration, the site was born.

Smith explores an array of topics. The physics behind flight. How does radar work? How does stealth technology deflect radar? How can one build an air tunnel?

He introduces viewers to piloting, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and more. Famous aviators are examined as are milestones in aviation history.

A fee of $199 will gain students access to the course for six months. You can watch the videos as often as you want in that time. Charter schools and homeschools are typical customers, Smith said.

Aviation offers plenty of career opportunities, and Smith’s own experience bears that out. After his retirement from the Air Force in 2004, his plan of piloting for Delta Airlines was derailed. He still found a way to start a business based on his love of flight.

But one need not be searching for a new career to enjoy the site, Smith believes.

“Some of my most enthusiastic students have been people in the their 40s or 50s,” Smith said. “They just want to know more about aviation.”

He has been pleased with the site’s impact.

On the site, he wrote about a crash at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash. while he was stationed there. One of the men who died in the crash had a 5-year-old daughter at the time, and she recently wrote Smith thanking him for the article.

“I never expected it, but it is nice to know that the website has impact,” Smith said in a release from Cedarville University.

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