Born in San Luis Obispo on July 29. 1948, Sherm was raised in north SLO County. Initially, he lived on the Paso Robles airport in the old base firehouse while his father pioneered aerial pipeline patrol business in California.
The family then moved to Atascadero in 1953 and he graduated from Atascadero Union High School in 1966. Sherm got the flying bug early when, after his father’s death in 1954, his mother took over the flying business. He loved his Dad’s first employee, a young pilot named Archie Dean. Years later, Archie bought the business and successfully ran the pipeline patrol for over 20 years. Archie had a lasting affect on Sherm and convinced him to pursue aviation.
Sherm put himself through Washington State University flying airplanes. He taught Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC students under the Flight Indoctrination Programs of WSU and the University of Idaho. By the time he graduated from college in 1970 with a BS in Biological Sciences, Sherm had accumulated 3,000 flight hours, had all his ratings and extra money in his pocket. Before reporting to flight school with the U.S. Navy, he returned to Paso Robles in 1970 to help his mentor, Archie Dean. He started a flight and ground school, taught aerobatics, started an air charter business, and did some forest service flying. A lot of the folks around here were taught to fly by Sherman Smoot.
L-R Laurie (wife), Sherm, Carly (daughter) celebrate at Reno Air Races
Sherm entered Navy flight school in Pensacola in January of 1971 and received his wings in April of 1972. After completing the F-4 Phantom RAG in San Diego, he joined VF-21 mid-cruise for the end of “Linebacker Two” Ops and was there when the Viet Nam war ended flying off of the USS Ranger in the Gulf of Tonkin. Completing two cruises with VF-21 as their LSO, he was then assigned to the Indoctrination team of the Navy’s new Lockheed S-3 Viking. He trained and carrier qualified the RAG’s first cadre of flight instructors, authored the Formation and In-flight Refueling Training Syllabus, and co-authored the Carrier Landing Training Syllabus. He left active duty in 1977 to pursue an airline career with Continental Airlines. He remained in the Naval Reserves flying F-4’s for another 4 years.
In 1983, he took a leave from the airline to run Archie’s business, Patroline, after Archie passed away suddenly. He was back where he started on the Paso Robles airport… In 1989, Sherm sold Patroline to concentrate on raising his daughter and to fly in the south Pacific for Continental’s Air Micronesia. He retired from Continental in 2005 after 28 years, 24 of those in international operations - Has type ratings in the DC-9/MD-80, B-727, B-757, B-767, DC-10, and B-777.
He got involved in Warbirds when he was asked to fly a P-47 “Jug” owned, in part, by Judge William P. Clark. He has flown and raced various other Warbirds. He was granted an unlimited Letter of Authority from the FAA, so he can, pretty much, fly any single or multiengine beast with more than 1,000 HP. He has been flying in the Reno air races for more than 20 years and won the AT-6/SNJ national championship in 1996. Currently, he flies a highly modified unlimited class Yak-11 and has always been in the top four in the Gold Race, when he hasn’t blown the engine.
With some 50 years of aviating under his belt, you would think he would be tired of all this… Nope! He currently is the pilot of the Gooney Bird Group’s C-47B. He was EWM’s air show coordinator for their first show in 10 years. When not flying, he co-owns Bella Luna Estate Winery, which he founded in 1998 and makes an aviator wine called – You guessed it – “Fighter Pilot Red”. He’s been with wife Laurie Zanoli-Smoot for 20 years and has a daughter Carly who is finishing her Master’s Degree at Cal Poly and a son Jimmy who makes fine wine in St. Helena, CA.