A donation on the fly

Abbey Linville

A 66-year-old pilot trainee donates ‘The Flying Deuce’ to Kent

Michael Fox, senior flight technology major, poses with the Cessna dubbed “The Flying Deuce” that was recently bought for the school. Fox is one of 66-year-old Calvin Carstensen’s flight instructors. Carstensen and wife Nancy recently donated $66,000 to

Credit: DKS Editors

It’s not ordinary for a 66-year-old to take up flying for the first time. It’s not ordinary for a flight student to donate more than $66,000 to the College of Technology’s aeronautics department and flight team. But it has become quite clear that Calvin Carstensen is far from ordinary.

After two months of flight lessons at the KSU Airport under the guidance of his flight instructors, Dawn Resek and Michael Fox, Carstensen proposed the purchase and donation of an airplane that would become a part of the KSU fleet.

“In June of 2007, I began flying lessons at KSU as a flight clinic student. This was initiated by my wife, Nancy, whose future at that time as a cancer treatment patient was quite uncertain. My concern for her had become the cause of mounting anxiety in myself,” wrote Carstensen in his initial proposal to Isaac Nettey, associate dean of the College of Technology. “Early in the spring of that year, Nancy told me that I needed a diversion from my constant focus on her, and that perhaps the time had arrived (or maybe it had already passed) when I might do something I had been postponing for many years, which was learning to fly.”

And so he did. Tim Palcho, chief flight instructor for the airport, encouraged Carstensen to stay at Kent State to complete his private pilot certification. It was Palcho’s inspiration and leadership, along with the direction of his flight instructors and the expertise of Walter Moor, check-ride at the airport and an essential guide in the safety of flight students, that led Carstensen to propose his donation.

Carstensen’s original endowment was to be $66,000 for the purchase and repair of a plane that would be selected by Palcho.

Palcho told Carstensen that a Cessna 150 would be best for the Precision Flight Team, as they are excellent planes for landing. After six weeks of searching and traveling to Pennsylvania, Virginia and across Ohio, Palcho found a 1968 Cessna 150H south of Cleveland.

“It was the best one we had seen, so we knew right away that it was probably going to be the one we were going to purchase,” Palcho said of the two-person plane capable of reaching speeds of approximately 95 knots, to be named “The Spirit of the Flying Deuce of KSU.”

“From the outset, I knew that I was far too old to ever become a ‘flying ace,'” Carstensen said. “So on the date of my first solo flight, I decided to lay claim to being ‘The Flying Deuce,’ which was sort of a second-place rating with a sound to it that a lot of people could have fun mispronouncing, and indeed they already have!”

The plane is scheduled to receive a new exterior with the airbrushing of a raptor that will display similarities of the Kent State Golden Flash. Carstensten proposed the possibility of adding “fearsome” details, such as lightning on its tail and wings.

Though the Cessna was in good condition when purchased, additional repairs such as updating the avionics – or electronic system – will be needed. The final cost of the plane, donated in he and his wife’s names, came to $66,967.87.

The College of Technology, grateful for Carstensen’s generosity, plans to use the Cessna 150H in competitions entered by the Precision Flight Team. Nettey said Carstensen’s donation sets a precedence in the College of Technology for charitable donations that he hopes to see increase primarily among alumni.

“We’re pushing for higher standards, higher quality of the program, and the students have responded with a level of dedication and commitment to their own professional preparation – both of which Calvin has recognized – and he’s decided to help them with his gift,” Nettey said. “The members of the Precision Flight Team have also responded to this gift by placing first in regional competitions for the very first time since every one of them was born.”

Carstensen continues his own goal and dedication toward earning private pilot certification, which he is expected to complete before Christmas.

“PS,” wrote Carstensen at the end of his proposal. “A few months after I began my flying lessons, Nancy became a cancer survivor who breezed past a year of chemotherapy via a fantastic stroke of luck.

“A test last fall to determine how far and long ongoing treatments might be carried revealed that continuing at all would likely kill her. So, they were halted immediately. Subsequent tests have shown again and again that she had already beaten the cancer!

“Above all, The Spirit of the Flying Deuce of KSU shall stand as a symbol of our thanks for the remaining time we shall have to continue together in good health.”

Contact college of technology reporter Abbey Linville at [email protected].