You can attach any number of career labels to Sam Lyons - aviation artist, teacher, sailboat captain, scuba diver, hobby shop owner. While Sam tackles everything with passion and dedication, his greatest love is creating aviation art. And he's been doing that full-time since 1985. A true Southern gentleman, Sam was born and raised in Atlanta , Georgia .
Sam credits his father - a B-24 pilot during WW II - with sparking his early interest in aviation. He credits his mother for putting aside her concerns when he went for his private pilot-glider license while in college. Luckily he graduated from Presbyterian College with a degree in biology, and then went on to serve two years as an officer in the U.S. Army. His main duty was escorting hazardous materials with the Chemical Corps (another reason for his mother to worry). After his Army stint, Sam began teaching at his alma mater, Woodward Academy ( Georgia Military Academy ).
His longtime interest and expertise in modeling led Sam into another career as an owner of a hobby shop called Historical Hobbies. Sam continued to develop his modeling work, eventually being in demand for custom assignments. He won many national modeling awards. Never one to stay on the easiest path, Sam looked for another challenge and found it through his fascination for painting. He experimented, searching for a unique style he could call his own. The immensely popular result is an extremely realistic look. So realistic, in fact, Sam's paintings are often mistaken for photographs.
Imagination is not the only fuel for Sam's artistic creations. He is one of the rare civilians who has flown in the F-15 Eagle while dog-fighting with Air Force pilots, the F-16 Falcon, and with the Navy in the Blue Angels F-18 Hornet. He is inspired every day when he looks out his studio windows. In 2002, Sam moved his home and base of operations to a grass airstrip, Air Acres, located in Woodstock, Georgia. He and his wife Mindy were married in the studio on November 16th of that same year.
Sam's greatest source of pride is the reaction he gets from pilots and aviation enthusiasts of every age and experience. At air shows around the country, there's nothing like having a young kid wander into his booth with an awed expression. He's gratified by how many times adults look around in wide-eyed wonder also. But Sam has also won many awards and gained recognition in military and civilian arenas.
Through his membership in the Air Force Art Program, Sam's painting, LEAD SOLO, graces the Air Force Art Hall in the Pentagon. Other prints and paintings can be found at places like Blue Angels headquarters, The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Air Force Museum, Naval Aviation Museum, Royal Air Force Museum, and Disney. His paintings have graced the covers of numerous magazines and catalogs. He's been commissioned to create works of art for Barron Hilton of the Hilton Corp., Brig. Gen. C. W. Taylor, Dobbins AFB, Blue Angels, U.S. Army, U.S. Parks Dept., AT&T, Bell South, Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems and the Danbury Mint … just to name a few. He's a member of the American Society of Aviation Artists; the Air Force Art Program; the EAA; Vintage Aircraft Association; Warbirds of America; the 8th Air Force Historical Society; and the Coast Guard Art Program.
While the world of aviation figures most prominently in Sam's paintings, his body of work also includes classic automobiles, boats, portraits, florals and landscapes. He also added sculpting to the list with creations of aviation historical figures.
Since 1995, when he completed his single engine land add on to his private pilot ticket, Sam flies as often as he can. His passion for flying is renewed every time he goes up. He's owned a Cub, a vintage Stinson and an open cockpit Hatz biplane. After going plane-less for too many months, Sam flew home a 1946 Cub he found in Florida.
You can visit with Sam and Mindy every year at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland and the Oshkosh AirVenture in Wisconsin at the Lyons Studio booth! If you're in the Atlanta area, you are also welcome to visit the Studio. Just call 770-928-8050 and let us know when you'll be around.