More Power to Fly

UCM aviation connects with
TWA founder's family.

By Angela Richard

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A family legacy, a student's passion and a trip to the hairdresser intersected in an unexpected way, leading to a new scholarship and expanded student learning opportunities within one of the University of Central Missouri's best-known programs.

As University of Central Missouri aviation student Chris Nold learned to fly, he was often confused by the jargon of air traffic controllers. He found he wasn't alone, so he came up with a solution---a communication training lab for flight students. The weekly lab gives students the opportunity to interact with real air traffic controllers and certified flight instructors in a virtual flight environment that simulates an airport with multiple aircraft taking off and landing.

Paul Richter, co-founder of Trans World Airlines

"The unique and wonderful aspect of this lab is that the professionals volunteer their time to work with the flight students," Nold said. "This allows the lab to be free to the students. This level of training and help, especially at no cost to the student, is truly remarkable."

Nold's efforts led to another outcome when his aunt, a hairdresser, bragged about him to one of her clients. Karen Holden Young is the granddaughter of Paul Richter, one of the co-founders of Trans World Airlines. Young, who lives in Mission Hills, Kan., has been working with her mother for several years to promote the legacy of her grandfather. When she learned that UCM has an aviation program, she got excited. Her enthusiasm led to a major gift for the Department of Aviation from her family's foundation.

"It was happenstance," Young said. "When the hairdresser asked what I had been doing lately, I told her I was volunteering at the TWA Museum, and then I went into the history of TWA. Then she said, 'You know, my nephew is an aviation student at UCM.' My brain just went 'ding-ding.' I didn't know that there was an aviation school so close, and I got excited."

Nold's passion and commitment to aviation impressed Young. His communication project reminded Young of what she knew about her grandfather's passion for flying in the early days of aviation.

"The three guys who started TWA were aviators first. They were students of flight themselves," she said. "They discovered all sorts of things, like the de-icing equipment from B.F. Goodrich and autopilots. They invented and tested all these things that today are standard."

Young added that what was truly unique about these early discoveries was how Richter and his co-founders freely shared information within the aviation community. She noted that especially in the early years, pilots were known to share information, as well as tools, parts and whole aircraft, if another pilot needed them.

Nold's project connected with Young in another way. Young's mother earned her pilot's license when she was 55 years old, and she experienced the same confusion Nold did the first time she heard the air traffic controllers over the radio.

"The first time she got into the plane to fly, she was out at Johnson County (Kan.) Airport," Young said. "She said, 'This is so confusing, having the traffic controllers talking to me, my trying to fly and all the things I have to do.'"

With her interest piqued in UCM aviation, Young visited the campus in July and attended the ceremony announcing Tony Monetti as UCM's new assistant dean of aviation and executive director of the Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport. She said she found Monetti's passion contagious and was excited about the plans he had for the future of UCM aviation and the airport.

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