Avionics News March 2018 - 60

series

B Y

PAUL SHOUGH:

P A T R I C I A

of Bemidji Aviation Services

Y

ou might call it culture shock to grow up in Manhattan
Beach, California, and then move to Bemidji,
Minnesota, but that's the path Paul Shough's life
took. His father, Mark Shough, had migrated to
California in the late 1950s and started work at a gas station
while he attended Northrop Institute of Technology. Mark later
earned a degree in engineering and earned his pilot's license.
This netted Paul's father his first job in aviation, doing drawings
for the North American X-15, XB-70 and F-107 - "very cool
airplanes," Paul said. At the same time, Mark met his future wife
and mother of his children and began a family.
Mark and Larry Diffley bought a Cessna 150 when Paul was
6 or 7 years old, and Paul would go flying with them all over
the Los Angeles area. "I remember doing steep turns and feeling
G-forces, and that's when I got the aviation bug myself," he said.
Since Diffley was from Bemidji, Mark decided to move there
and purchase a family-owned FBO, and that's how Paul got to
Minnesota.
Just like his father, Paul's first job was not in aviation. At age
14, he was a dishwasher at a resort, followed by a job at 15 raking
leaves, doing landscaping work and putting in docks. At age 16,
he got his first job at the airport.
"They had a National Rental Car licensee with five cars, and
I'd wash those cars and get them ready to rent again along with
washing and cleaning airplanes," Paul said.
Paul characterizes his father as "the most industrious person I
know." He said his father always has multiple projects going on,
never wasting a step. In fact, Mark, now 80 years old, just built
three solid-wood rocking horses for his grandchildren. In addition,
60

avionics news

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march

L U E B K E

2018

Paul credits his father with giving him a passion for learning and
acquiring knowledge.
However, Paul's first attempt at college in 1980 was not a
success. "In high school, I just had to show up and sort of pay
attention, and I didn't have to study and got respectable grades,"
he said. "I had all these big dreams, but when I got to college,
the classes were difficult, I didn't know how to study, and I only
lasted a year."
In 1981, Paul joined the Marines and worked as a disbursing
clerk, stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina. At that time, the
pay systems were just getting computerized, so Paul got to work
doing that. In short, he said, "I became the computer guy." After
four years as a Marine, Paul went back to college. "This time," he
said, "I did a lot better." He started working for Bemidji Aviation
as a lineman.
What Paul learned about himself as an adult is that if he is passionate about a topic, he learns at "an incredible rate." He is always
studying something, reading two or three hours a day. Now because
of the internet, his learning and research are so much easier. One
of his earlier passions was computers, and he built one of the first
kit computers, an Altair 8080. That was in 1976, and his computer
skills served him well in the years to come.
Although Paul took his first flying lessons in 1977 and later
earned his private pilot certificate, he said, "I have always stayed
in the maintenance side, but being a pilot has been invaluable."
He continued to work at Bemidji as he met his wife, got married, and started a family. He said, "While I was working there,
they were trying to get the accounting system computerized for
quotes and bids, and I got involved with that." He said that project



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