Aeronautics students fly high with scholarships

John Hitch

The Cleveland National Air Show Charitable Foundation rewarded three passionate Kent State students in the nationally accredited flight program were awarded yesterday with scholarship checks for $5,000, double the amount given last year.

The scholarships will help defray the high costs of the flight program, which tacks on an extra $7,000 a semester to tuition.

Recipients Lannie Marsh, Michael Burngasser and Matthew Loveday can thank Cleveland’s favorable Labor Day weather and high air show turnout for the increase.

“We happened to have three gorgeous days (for the air show), so we had more money to give,” said the foundation’s secretary and check presenter, Roderick Munn.

Although the elements were in the students favor, the odds of winning were not. The Cuyahoga County residency restriction was lifted this year, enlarging the field of competition. But the inspiring essays the students wrote, along with strong recommendations, left the board of trustees no choice but to select them, Munn said during the award ceremony.

All three licensed pilots looked down on the clouds from an early age, each being brought up in families close to aviation. Their essays reflected the love of flying they developed as children growing up surrounded by aviators.

Marsh’s family tree reaches high into the sky. Her grandmother, E. Marie Barrett, made history in World War II as a WASP, a Woman Air Force Service Pilot. According to, the WASPs were the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft.

Her father, also a pilot, spent a month this year flying with her out west. Marsh, a technology graduate student, spends her time on the ground as the assistant for I. Richmond Nettey, associate dean and senior academic program director for aeronautics.

At age 5, Loveday knew that his office would lie at a higher altitude than a lowly skyscraper. While other kids pestered their parents to visit the zoo or go to baseball games, the junior flight technology major begged to hang out at airports with his mother, a travel agent and former airline employee.

Burngasser’s father, a commercial airline pilot, took the 12 year old on a flight sans passengers from Providence, R.I. to Cleveland. When the co-pilot got up to grab a Pepsi, Burngasser explained, he got to sit next to his father, fiddling with all the dials and buttons, even flying the plane for a time. “It was the greatest experience in my life,” he said. His mother is also a pilot.

The Cleveland National Air Show Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, has given more than $35,000 in scholarships since 2000. Munn said the air show “exists far beyond” the three-day event filled with aeronautical acrobatics and cutting-edge military aircraft, citing charitable contributions to the community as an equally important focus.

Contact College of Technology reporter

John Hitch at jhitch@kentedu.