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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team












Monday, August 26, 2013

Pilot, Minister, and Servant to Others: Brian Kissinger Turns Challenges into Opportunities

Brian Kissinger with his "backup" Sonerai aircraft
By Carmelo Turdo












 
 
 
There will be a gathering of the St. Louis metropolitan area aviation community on Labor Day to raise money for local charities, and it is no surprise that the idea was conceived by pilot, itinerant minister and two-time brain cancer survivor Brian Kissinger.  Since setting his third world speed record for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) over a designated course during the 2012 Fair St. Louis Independence Day festivities, he has improved the engine on his home-built Sonerai aircraft and is ready for another record setting flight.  But Brian Kissinger does not put his flying skills on display to call attention to himself, but to three charitable causes that have a direct impact on others based on his own experience: The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Fisher House, and a fellow member of EAA Chapter 64 who needs temporary financial support to weather a family crisis.           

"The aviation community is pitching in to help those three main causes," Kissinger said today.  "Come Labor Day, we’re going out to the St. Louis Downtown Airport in conjunction with the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and some of the other local aviation communities.”  Invitations have been sent out for fly-ins from other local airports, and the Museum activities will be available.  All of the money raised will stay with local branches of these charities.  Kissinger will fly a Sonerai LSA at the airport as he prepares to set another speed record in the coming weeks.
 
Brian Kissinger has been a pilot since he was a teenager, and became a USAF Navigator in Special Operations MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft.  He was diagnosed with Stage II oligodendroglioma brain tumor in 2003, and medically retired in 2005.  After recovering from surgery and Chemotherapy, he served as a successful executive at the GE Healthcare Division and started several businesses of his own.  In 2007, he flew his Piper L-4 Cub across the U.S. ("Brain's Flight,") to raise money for the National Brain Tumor Foundation.  But that would not be the end of his health challenges.

“I just love flying," Kissinger continued.  "The first thing I ever wanted to be was a pilot.  After I got cancer the second time a couple of years ago, it was a real change in my life to really give back and help people.  After I set the first two world records in the beginning of 2011, it was a change.  In 2012, we set the third record, and that was for homeless veterans.   It just continues – how we can give back.  This life isn’t for me, it’s for others and how God in a way can work through me.”    

Brian Kissinger continues to fly since recovering from his second bout of brain cancer, and has founded two other organizations to help channel some of the boundless energy he brings to his daily life: Pax et Amor (Peace and Love in Latin), an itinerant ministry serving cancer survivors and veterans, and  No Negative News, a news network dedicated to providing positive and helpful news features that run counter to today's sensational headlines.  The Aero Experience recommends that our audience support both of these efforts, as well as the other charities mentioned above.

“My personal motto is ‘Love God and Help People.’  It’s the most important thing we do.  I think that’s why I’m here.  That’s why we’re going to be there for Labor Day.  It’s all about community, if you think about it.  We have our aviation community at the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL, and we’re all pitching in to help these main charities.  No kid should die from brain tumors.  No wounded warrior should come back and not have a place to stay when they get their treatment.  And our local cause, helping our EAA family.  These are three wonderful causes, all while we’re having a great day at the airport as a community.”

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