St. Laurent soars through aeronautics program


Joseph St. Laurent

Andrew Bugel

Joseph St. Laurent had a dream to be a pilot when he came to Kent State University and last fall, that has become a reality.

St. Laurent grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire. With the help of his mother, St. Laurent decided he wanted to be a pilot when he was young.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living,” St. Laurent said. “My mom and I were just throwing around ideas and she mentioned being a pilot and that idea just stuck with me ever since.”

St. Laurent said he always found flying interesting as a child.

“When I was a kid and we would go to Florida in an airplane, we would have that initial take-off and everybody else would be holding onto their chairs and lean back because they were nervous,” he said. “I just thought this experience is incredible.”

St. Laurent didn’t actually begin flying until this semester. He said his freshman year consisted of learning the craft on the ground.

“Last year I took a lot of Kent core classes and this year I’m actually getting into the flying program,” St. Laurent said. “I took an introduction class where I learned how to make the plane fly and stuff like that.”

St. Laurent compared learning how to fly with his flight instructor Denver Coblentz to a driving lesson.

“He has his own set of controls so if an emergency occurred, he could easily control the aircraft,” St. Laurent said. “He sits right next to you in the plane, but you’re technically in the driver seat.”

Coblentz and St. Laurent meet five times a week for flights. Coblentz complimented St. Laurent on his work ethic.

“Joseph is very professional and studies really hard outside of just what we do in the classroom,” Coblentz said. “He’s always asking questions about what he needs to do and what he can prepare for.”

St. Laurent became the first student in the aviation program this semester to complete a solo flight. The solo flight is the end-goal of the private pilot course he is currently taking. 

Ben Satyshur, who is the program manager of aviation safety, explained the importance of the solo flight.

“When they go solo, that is the first time they are going to be solely in command of that aircraft,” Satyshur said. “All the training that they have learned up to that point is all culminating at the solo.”

Before any flying, the pilots are expected to check the plane for safety reasons.

“One of the most important things about safe aircraft is making sure the planes weigh a certain amount,” St. Laurent said. “You need to check actual parts of the plane for safety, know the weather before flying and make sure all doors are locked.”

St. Laurent said after completing the private pilot course, he hopes to earn his license and move onto more advanced flying.

“After finishing these flights, I’ll get my private license,” St. Laurent said. “There’s at least three more licenses that you need to get, such as instrumental flying and commercial, which says that I’m qualified to fly and get paid for it.” 

St. Laurent said the feeling he gets while being in the air is one that makes him know he picked the right career.

“Since I have come to Kent State, I’ve gone up in the air almost every single day and being able to see 30, 40 and 50 miles from here is just incredible,” St. Laurent said. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”    

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected].