I am using LR 5. I have images on a flash drive that I am trying to import into LR. I can only view/edit those images if I leave the flash drive in. As soon as I remove the flash drive, the images go grey and I cannot do ANYTHING with them. If I plug the flash drive back in, the images again become active. How do I use these images without the flash drive in.
Photos need to be stored on an attached or networked disk for Lightroom 5 to use them. You have to import the photos and store them on an attached hard disk or networked drive.
I wonder if you create smart previews while the flash drive is inserted if perhaps Lightroom 5 will allow you to work with the smart previews when the flash drive is removed. I can't remember if Lightroom 5 allowed smart previews. Just a thought.
I don't think Lightroom 5 had Smart Previews.
Sounds like you are importing using ADD instead of Copy.
Actually should not be able to do that, something Adobe may have changed in a newer version, as Flash Media like memory sticks are not to be trusted for long term storage.
Since you have Lightroom 5 working on your system, and it allows you to import images from a flash drive and edit them when the flash drive is inserted, consider yourself fortunate. Later versions of Lightroom don't allow this, but consider the flash drive temporary storage and the images must be imported to a hard drive to be added to a Lightroom catalog.
If you are happy with the features provided by Lightroom 5, and it is functioning satisfactorily then by all means stay with it. I suppose you don't miss what you don't know you don't have.
Flash drive, memory card, don't worry about it. Not relevant.
When you import, you need to select a Destination on one of your hard drives or network drives (preferably an external drive or network drive) and then Lightroom will copy or move the files from wherever they are to the requested hard drive or network drive. Then the problem you described at the beginning will not happen.
If you are a beginner to Lightroom, your best approach is not to try to figure it out yourself. We have seen many many people in these forums try to figure it out themselves, and get totally lost. The best approach is to do some learning about how Lightroom works. There are plenty of free videos at adobe.com and at youtube.com and a free e-book at LightroomQueen.com. Spend some time learning, and your efforts in Lightroom will work much much better.