Flashes Helping Flashes Take Flight: Instruments of the Late Charlie Wentz to be Used in Ashtabula Program

Airplanes meant a lot to Charlie Wentz. An aerospace engineer, Wentz was always reaching for the sky as a pilot, flight instructor and a professor in Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering. Now, flight instruments he once owned will be used in the airplane maintenance program being established by Kent State University at Ashtabula.

It is an example of the strong relationship Regional Campuses have – working together and partnering in ways that foster student success. So, when Denise A. Seachrist, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State University at Stark, came across her late husband’s flight gauges – used to show airspeed, altitude and more – she knew she had to make a call.

“When I came across these four airplane instruments from a dashboard, I immediately thought of Ashtabula,” Seachrist explained. “If these gauges can be used in their program, well, that would have meant so much to Charlie.”

When the call came, so did a smile for Susan J. Stocker, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer of the Ashtabula Campus. While she and Seachrist have been Kent State colleagues for about 20 years, Stocker just had the opportunity to get to know Wentz a few years ago.

“He was really an all-around good guy,” Stocker said. “There are both work connections and personal connections that are made over time, and this is a prime example of the good things that come as a result.”

 The Ashtabula Campus has its sights set on launching the airplane maintenance program post-pandemic.

The curriculum is being developed by Jonathan Weaver, academic program coordinator for the College of Aeronautics and Engineering’s Aircraft Maintenance School.

“When you are teaching airplane maintenance, the more hands-on examples that you can provide – the better,” Weaver said. “Charlie’s gauges will really help so many students as they learn about airplane mechanics and how all parts work together to produce flight.”

And thanks to changes in FAA requirements, the Ashtabula program is moving forward.

“Whether we house it at Kent or we house it with another maintenance repair agency, now is the time because we are here to meet the needs of business and industry and there is a shortage of trained airplane maintenance workers,” Stocker said.

She expects that demand to increase as the vaccinated public resumes travel.

“We are really pleased to not only be able to partner with the Regional Campus system, but now to partner with the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, which will benefit from the gift of Charlie’s equipment,” Stocker said. “Those instruments will always be remembered as Charlie’s. We are so grateful to keep his memory alive for something he loved and was known for.”

Professors in the program expressed joy, wonderment and gratitude for the gift. “These were our Charlie’s?” they asked.

Yes, our Charlie’s.

And now they’ll teach future aviators to reach for the sky.

POSTED: Sunday, July 25, 2021 - 7:44pm
UPDATED: Sunday, July 25, 2021 - 7:51pm
WRITTEN BY:
Melissa Griffy Seeton