Dual-career Certified Flight Instructor Steve Kinsey keeps Columbus safe from the air

Steve Kinsey

Our experiences shape us and our futures, and university employee Steve Kinsey is a prime example of using your experiences to create something incredible.

Kinsey wears many hats. His passion for aviation has led him to a career as a flight instructor for the university’s airport and the assistant chief flight instructor at Capital City Aviation. It doesn’t stop there— Kinsey serves as a helicopter pilot for the Columbus Police Department while also working as an auxiliary officer for The Ohio State University.

This combination of careers is undoubtedly unique, and his journey paints a picture of perseverance and passion. Kinsey works as a police officer while achieving his dreams of flying. His aviation dreams stem from childhood, but he got his chance to achieve them after attending an airshow at Rickenbacker International Airport that changed his life.

“I was mesmerized,” he said. “I got goosebumps and thought, ‘Man, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!’”

Steve Kinsey with the Columbus police department helicopter
Steve Kinsey with the Columbus police department helicopter at The Ohio State University Airport | photo submitted

Aviation had always fascinated him. He didn’t think becoming a pilot was an option for him, but he was determined to try anyway. He left the airshow early and drove straight to a flight school, walked in and said “I want to fly an airplane.” As fate would have it, a flight instructor had availability, so within an hour of leaving Rickenbacker, Kinsey was flying a plane. There was no going back.

From there, Kinsey completed his training at Fairfield County Airport, got his private and instrument rating then moved on to become a flight instructor for both Ohio State and Capital City Aviation. Motivated by Ohio State’s rigid curriculum and high standards, Kinsey was determined to master his craft and took it upon himself to be the best instructor possible for his students.

“I didn’t want to just check off boxes for my students,” said Kinsey. “I’m not going to just push them through—I don’t want to shortcut people.”

Kinsey fused his passions for law enforcement and aviation to create a combination of careers that fulfill him. His main objective is helping people, whether that be in the sky or on the streets. 

His law enforcement career was born from a desire to change the system. Growing up as a Black man in Michigan, Kinsey said he faced constant, unjustified harassment from the police. Those instances changed his life’s trajectory and inspired him to pursue law enforcement.

“I knew I couldn’t change the world, but I could do the job better than they could,” said Kinsey. “I don’t want people to be treated like I was or feel the hurt and pain.”

Steve Kinsey with the Columbus police helicopter and high school students
Students in Ohio State's Taxi to Takeoff!! high school aviation program checked out the Columbus police helicopter and learned about Steve Kinsey's career during a special visit | photo submitted

Kinsey moved to Columbus after high school and became a police officer for Columbus Division of Police. He was on the streets helping the same communities he came from, and shortly thereafter, attended that fateful airshow that changed his life.

After receiving his pilot’s license, he came across a golden opportunity to create an overlap between his law enforcement and aviation careers: becoming a helicopter pilot for Columbus Division of Police. Kinsey got his helicopter rating and got the job— the rest is history.

Kinsey took all of his experiences and adversity to create a life he is proud of. He was told countless times that his aspirations were far-fetched, but his hard work prevailed. He is an inspiration and aims to leave places better than he found them. Steve Kinsey is a busy guy, but to him, the work is well worth it.

“I take pride in what I do and what I accomplished. I see myself in a lot of people, I see the hurt. I can connect with them and provide the support I wish I had,” said Kinsey. “I don’t want people to go through what I did, but if they are, I want them to know there is light on the other side.”

by Carrie White, professional writing intern

Category: Personnel