Jason Lorenzon, JD, ATP
What is your role at Kent State University?
Jason Lorenzon is the Coordinator of Aeronautics Program and Assistant Professor in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. In addition to his administration and faculty roles/responsibilities, he also serves on Kent State's Uninversity Press Editorial Board (2020-2023), and University Commencement Committee (2019-2022).
What are your academic degrees in?
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (University of Western Ontario, 1995)
Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance with Distinction (University of Western Ontario, 1995)
Master of Music in Piano Performance (Cleveland Institute of Music, 1997)
Juris Doctor (Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, 2007)
Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto (ARCT, 1997)
Colleague of the American Guild of Organists (CAGO 1998)
Private Pilot (Canada, 1990)
Instrument Rating (FAA, 2000)
Commercial Certificate (FAA, 2002)
Multi-Engine Rating Commercial (FAA, 2003)
Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor-Instruments, Certified Flight Instructor-Multi-Engine (FAA, 2003)
Airline Transport Rating (FAA 2020)
What inspired you to become involved in your industry?
I was inspired as a child where one of my uncles and my brother would take me to the local department store which had a toy department full of die cast metal passenger airplanes. I remember being about 5 or 6 years old, and I remember the excitement of getting one of these new 747’s with Air Canada Livery, or the Concorde with British Airways livery, and the box it came in had a sky with beautiful cumulus clouds. I remember looking up at the sky on a sunny day thinking it would be awesome to spend my time up there. I have kept some of those planes which are in my faculty office. Growing up, my older brother, Chris who has been an A&P Mechanic for Endeavor in Detroit for the last 20 years, would buy every plane toy he could. I being asked what do you want to be when you grow up and the first thing I remember saying was “Pilot.”
Growing up, my parents had other ideas, and although I was destined for a University Education, Canadian Universities did not offer a professional pilot program like Kent does, even back in the mid 1990’s only one Community College in Canada Offered it. I had a strong aptitude for music, so my education took that trajectory, but I remember sneaking to the Windsor Airport when I was 16 and 17 after school to work on my private pilot’s license. My parents found out I was actually doing that when I had to go on a solo cross country. That was fun, yes both events. I finished my Canadian PPL before I started my first semester in University. I also had a full scholarship to music at the time, but my dad was worried about making a living so at the last minute I switched to Political Science more to appease him. I hated every second of it, not realizing at the time that I should really be flying and never being able or permitted that was an option. After a couple of months, I went back to the music department, and they let me back in the program, but I could not start until the following year. I struggled for that year, except the best thing about that year was meeting my wife.
I walked into her dorm room and saw a picture of her, her instructor and an airplane. Since that day, I have been the luckiest person alive. She is a private pilot, and loves to fly.
I was flying off and on during my undergraduate years. My wife completed her private pilot license, and to make what my parents considered to be a failed year in political science, I went to school full time during the day for my music degree and then part time at night for my political science degree. For one of the requirements of the political science degree required a science degree. I petitioned the University to let me complete the requirements for the Commercial Pilot’s License, but they wrongly retorted, it was not academic enough.
I then came to the United States as a student, on a student visa, on scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of Music. I was also studying the piano and the organ as I have been playing in churches since I was 8 years old as a church organist. That was how I paid for my private license. But it also paved the way for me to stay in the United States, receive a green card, as one of the first organists to receive a green card under the Religious Worker’s Program. The immigration lawyer that the Diocese of Cleveland hired on my behalf encouraged me, as my father did, (and wanted me to become), was to become a lawyer. I did the music career first. The Church I was Music Director at, was Our Lady of Guadalupe in Macedonia, Ohio, which after a while, I began looking for a place to fly which landed me in 1999 at Kent State Airport. A Kent State Alum, Mike Allard, was my instrument instructor. I was encouraged by the Church leadership to pursue a higher calling and bigger job, and I soon was appointed as a Cathedral Music Director in St. Petersburg Florida. A Dream Job for a young twenty something. NOT! 9/11 hit and I was moving my wife and young 3 month daughter down to Florida. The job was not a dream job and I was finding myself running to the St. Petersburg Airport (KPIE) to work on my commercial license, and multi engine ratings. My old boss came down to recruit me back to Ohio, and I accepted and I went to law school thinking that was my next career path. I worked full time, went to school, and my wife figured out how we could purchase our first plane. It was a busy time raising our two young children and then our third child arrived during this time. We needed the plane to go back to my parents often, as soon as we moved back to this area, my mom suffered a massive stroke. So on free time, I would fly up to Windsor to be with my mom and dad and assist them. My kids were flying with us as well.
After graduation and passing two bar exams, (Ohio and Florida), I worked to establish a law firm, but law careers take a while to develop, especially aviation law. I was recruited by the same firm that helped me get a green card in 2000, and I worked for them for about 3 years before going out on my own in 2011. I established a law firm, hiring three lawyers, and a staff. It has been fun but it was not until about 2013 when a steady flow of aviation cases were starting to come my way.
I was working on a FAA Medical Denial of a Special Issuance, and after litigating it, I requested that the case be put into mediation. It was then I learned the working of the FAA Medical Staff. After several long months of negotiations, the FAA agreed to grant my client his medical. It was a major success.
At that same time, in 2015, I was asked to purchase an interest in the Wadsworth Airport and establish a flight school. Three of us, another Kent State Alum, Nick Bellaurdo, a Business Entrepreneur, Bryon Palitto and myself established the Flight Services of Wadsworth and Aerotrek Flight Academy.
I was so excited about the 6th Circuit Case and wanting to help pilots, I called Rick Mangrum who I have know for years to let him know, which lead to another phone call from Dr. McFarland asking me to teach Aviation Law!
I find my personal road map, twisted, convoluted, complicated, but eventually, your true passion will find you. You just have to follow the signs…..it just took me a little longer than most! But without this road map, I would not be at Kent, which I am grateful for!
I also current serve as the Chair of the Aviation Law Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association
I am a member of the Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee
Rick Mangrum! Maureen McFarland! He had asked me in 2007 to be an instructor, but I also received my law license. So, although I really wanted to fly, and I enjoy teaching, I guess I had to practice law first to come back and teach as a faculty member. I have always enjoyed teaching and inspiring the next generation. I think it is the duty of the older generations to pass on the knowledge to the younger generations.
What is the best part of your job?
Teaching the next generation of aviation professionals! Working with a world class faculty and administration! Working knowing that our future is secure.
Why do you like working at Kent State University?
This is by far, out of everything that I have done, the most fun, best position to have. The students, the faculty, the Dean, the associate Deans, Mo McFarland, have made this experience outside of my family, the best and most fulfilling of my life.
What is your favorite topic/course to teach?
I love to teach anything, but especially, Aviation Law, Aviation Security and Policy, UAVs, and instructing the commercial II and multi-engine students at the airport!
What are you most looking forward to seeing in the future of CAE?
The growth is exciting. Speaking at other Universities, visiting other campuses, we are a world class institution that is proven and is going to continue to grow and evolve. I love our History and the future is really bright!
What is a fun fact about yourself?
My dad was from Italy, my mom was first generation Polish Canadian, and the two met in Windsor. My dad was butcher, so I grew up in his meat store. Because I that, I make my own Italian Sausage, and love to cook and BBQ, and smoke things. I also have two Pug Dogs named Marshmallow and Tony.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My family. My wife Heather and my three children, Victoria (first year at Kent in the Aeronautics Program), Todd (Grade 11, and just got his Private License), Emily (Grade 10, starting flight training). Without them, and their support, none of what I do would be possible nor have meaning. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for being at Kent, grateful for the students, faculty and staff.
Pictured left to right: Jason Lorenzon, Todd Lorenzon, and Designated Pilot Examiner Tim Palcho standing in front of a Cessna 150 after Todd Lorenzon completed a solo flight to earn his private pilot license.