SAM DORIA. 

Sam first met Elton on the tarmac in front of the Confederate Air Force hangar where he noticed Elton with his head buried within the cowling of his Bonanza.  After a considerable amount of time, Sam strolled out to Elton to see if he could help him.  As Elton pulled his head out from under the cowling he extended a hand of friendship.  He told Sam he could not fly the Bonanza until it was repaired.  Elton asked Sam if he could leave the aircraft on the tarmac overnight.  Sam granted his request, and Elton countered with another request; he needed a ride home.  Sam asked Elton where he lived.  When Elton told him “Sun Lakes” Sam said he would take him home.  At that time Elton was not aware that Sam also lived in Sun Lakes, but he accepted the ride, no questions asked.  We will have to explore Sam’s life story to discover what events led to this chance meeting.

 

Sam was born in Chicago, Illinois.  He moved around the Greater Chicago area a number of times during his formative years.  His introduction to flight came when he was seven years of age.  His grandfather had taken him to a nearby airport so Sam could watch airplanes taxi and fly around the airport; he even got to walk around a Piper Cub and sit in it.  Then, his grandfather arranged a ride for him in the Cub.  Well, that whetted his appetite for flying, an appetite that has never been filled.  In spite of some tumultuous times Sam graduated from a ROTC high school, a trade school that also offered a heavy concentration of liberal arts classes. 

 

Following high school and wanting to become a dentist, Sam entered college in 1949.  His time was divided between school and a job that was required to pay for college.  His job as a printer/lithographer was both good and bad.  Bad because he did not have enough time to devote to studies, but good because . . . we will get to that later.  Within a year he left college and his job to enlist in the Air Force. 

 

After basic training, Sam was sent to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to an Army Corps of Engineers school near Washington D. C. to become a surveyor.  Four months later, Sam returned to the Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois where he applied his newly acquired skills in an engineering outfit, but not for long.  He was soon reassigned to Morocco where he assumed the position as the Senior Surveyor.  Not only did Sam develop significant engineering skills building and installing microwave repeaters, radar sites, roads, runways and setting property limits for building projects from Casa Blanca to Marrakech, but he was also getting a lot of time in the air with two flight officers who needed to log flying hours.  He flew all over North Africa and tagged along on trips to Spain and Portugal . . . just to whet his aviation appetite a bit more.  Subsequently, Sam was transferred to Yuma AFB, Arizona because the base required a total rebuild. 

 

It wasn’t all work and no play at Yuma.  A number of fighter aces were stationed at Yuma and frequently flew the T-33 target aircraft and Sam was often the observer.  As a result of Sam’s work at Yuma AFB, all three runways were designated as an alternate for an Edwards AFB landing of the shuttle.  Moreover, his work paid off similarly in Morocco where two airports that he rebuilt were also designated as an early landing site for an aborted shuttle mission.  Sam completed his Air Force enlistment in 1955 while at Yuma AFB.  From there he headed home, east to Chicago with his young bride who was native Arizonian and who had never seen snow. 

 

Recall earlier in this story that Sam had a job while in college that turned out to be both good and bad.  The good part was that his job allowed him to learn skills in printing and lithography.  That single year he received on-the-job experience led to a very successful and rewarding 35-year career in lithography, a high pressure profession that lasted until 1990.  Sam’s skills became so acute that he was able to discern color variances within two wave lengths.  During that long career Sam devoted himself to the W. W. Grainger Company where he worked with such clients as; Playboy, Sears, most of the Detroit automakers, Montgomery Ward, Helene Curtis, Wilson Sporting Goods, and many others.  Even so, during these stressful years Sam always had time for flying. 

 

Sam and his buddy restored two Fairchild Gull Wing aircraft.  When the Fairchilds were airworthy, the two friends shared in the fruits of their labor with local area flying in a revered airplane.  Sam also flew frequently in a Cessna with his cousin who was a WWII veteran.  His cousin flew B-26 Martin Marauders during the war. 

 

A year before Sam retired, the Confederate Air Force (CAF) B-17, Sentimental Journey, flew into nearby Du Page Airport.  Sam did not hesitate.  He made a bee-line to the airport where he became familiar with the B-17 and the CAF.  The CAF also became familiar with Sam and when he indicated he would be moving to the Phoenix area when he retired they signed him up.  You see, Sam had been visiting his nephew in Sun Lakes and his wife made it clear that there would be no snow shovels after retirement.

 

That brings us full circle.  Sam moved to Sun Lakes and became the CAF Arizona Wing Procurement Officer.  Sam became a valuable member of the team at the Arizona Wing.  He was able to find parts and pieces for 6 WWII aircraft, including the celebrated B-17 Sentimental Journey.  Over the years the Wing presented Sam with 6 awards and a 7th award for “screwing up”.  The latter award was presented after Sam drove into a ditch while riding his Suzuki motorcycle across the center of the Falcon airport.  Since retirement, Sam’s most memorable flights have been in the CAF antique aircraft, during Fly-Ins sponsored by the Sun Lakes Aero Club, and two trips with Elton to Chicago in Elton’s Bonanza, one being somewhat memorable. 

 

Sam’s experience with all kinds of aircraft, air frames, and aircraft engines, coupled with his success in corporate America as a manager, supervisor and administrator provided direction and stability during the evolution of the Sun Lakes Aero Club.  Sam’s membership included a regular benefit from his wife, Esther “the club’s official cookie maker”.  Sam served as Treasurer, Vice President, and President. Sam passed away July 6, 2010.

 

The Sun Lakes Aero Club benefited from the early pioneers: Al Galvi, Elton Dyal, and Sam Doria.  But wait; there is one more – Vern Nelson.  It wasn’t until Vern became involved that the club was bonded with the organizational and administrative processes that guarantee its success into the future.  It is interesting how Vern’s experience in the corporate world and his love of flight folded together to provide the final ingredient that binds the Sun Lakes Aero Club together.

 

LINK BACK TO           AL GALVI

LINK BACK TO           ELTON DYAL

LINK FORWARD TO  VERN NELSON

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   RDE 6/17/04