Colonel W. Sumpter Smith Collection

Colonel Walter Sumpter Smith (1897-1943) was an engineer, Army pilot, government aviation official, and promoter of aviation. He served as an Army pilot and instructor in World War I and afterwards as commandant of Roberts Field in Birmingham, AL, and helped to establish new air mail routes in the South during the late 1920s. In 1935 he was made head of the Airport Division of the Works Project Administration and was later appointed chairman of the Safety Board of the Civil Aeronautics Authority. In January 1939 he was appointed as chairman of the commission to build Washington National Airport. During World War II, he returned to active duty and was made chief of Transport and Facilities Division of Army Air Support in March 1942. On 24 January 1943 his aircraft disappeared over the Caribbean Sea. In 1943 he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.