Service at heart of Ohio State aviation personnel, students

Image of Ohio State cadets in 1917
Ohio State School of Aeronautics first graduating class in 1917

In spring 1917, the United States War Department established Schools of Military Aeronautics at six universities, including The Ohio State University. From there, The Ohio State University Airport formed in tandem with aviation training and research programs. Those early beginnings helped cement Ohio State aviation’s trajectory for service.

Today, many Ohio State aviation associates – faculty, staff, students and alumni – carry on the call to service. The Aerospace Research Center, university airport and Center for Aviation Studies count many veterans among their ranks. Highlighted below are a few.

Nick Jensen, air transportation student, Center for Aviation Studies
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force
“Spending my career around F-16s and F-35s really boosted my desire to fly and encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a pilot.”

Michael Walker, '18, PhD aerospace engineering
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force
Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at The Air Force Institute of Technology
"Being a career Air Force officer, I was beyond impressed by the professionalism and aptitude of the faculty, staff and students at the ARC where I was surrounded by world-class researchers in a family-like environment. My time at the ARC helped prepare me for an immediate teaching position at a well-respected post-graduate military institute."

John Fletcher, aircraft mechanic, The Ohio State University Airport
Airman 1st Class C-130 crew chief, U.S. Air Force
After growing up with a career Air Force father and being interested in airplanes, John Fletcher joined the Air Force after high school. I “decided to use my GI bill to go to Columbus State's aviation program and completed it in early 1987.” Over the years, he has worked at John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Ohio State and his own repair shop. At Ohio State he has worked in line service and, since 2009, has served in aircraft maintenance. He earned his private pilot license in 1991.

Shen Zhou, aviation student, Center for Aviation Studies
E-4 Specialist reconnaissance scout observer, U.S. Army
“I was afforded my first opportunity to work with military aviation professionals when I was in the Army during training events, and that inspired my interest of developing my own aviation skillset. My experience in the Army helped me find my purpose and still serves today as a powerful motivation for me to continue bettering myself everyday so that I can one day do more and do better in serving our nation. Being an aviation student at tOSU afforded me a multitude of different opportunities in professional development, career prospects and personal growth that have been constantly helping me prepare for a variety of career options in continuing to protect our country and its people.”

While we reflect on the service of the cadets who were the first alumni of the Ohio State aviation programs, we also say thank you to those who served in the recent past and those who will serve in the future.

Image of Ohio State military veterans
Shen Zhou, Nick Jensen and John Fletcher