Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


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

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Elite Aviation Maintenance Technician On Quest to Obtain Private Pilot's Certificate

By Carmelo Turdo

Elite Aviation is helping one of their own fulfill a life-long dream: earning a Private Pilot Certificate. Joshua Rouse, an A&P/IA at Elite Aviation, can regularly be seen flying patterns over Spirit of St. Louis Airport in one of the Cessna 172s in the fleet that he and his colleagues maintain. Elite Aviation is proud of his progress, and his March 11 solo flight was a major step forward. He is now more determined than ever to continue flight training around his regular work schedule as warmer weather moves into the area.

Joshua Rouse (R) with CFI Corey
Redington, after March 11 solo
(Elite Aviation photo)
Joshua Rouse dreamed of becoming a military pilot since he was a boy growing up on U.S. Air Force bases around the world and attending airshows. The influence of military life, and the drive to achieve personal and professional goals, were instilled in him from an early age.

"My dad was in the Air Force as a Combat Search and Rescueman flying helicopters - UH-60 Pave Hawks," Rouse told The Aero Experience. "So growing up I got to go sit on the flight line and watch the helicopters take off...That's where my love [for flying] came from, the Air Force and seeing those planes going to airshows." He fondly remembers the time when his dad flew over his neighborhood at Nellis AFB, NV waving from the open side door of his helicopter. 

Rouse planned to join the U.S. Army after high school and train to fly helicopters. In his senior year, a close friend was killed fighting in Iraq, and that spurred him to join the service early and take the quickest route to combat - the infantry. He took well to his new career, and served eight years as an infantry soldier.  

Another decision point along the path to aviation came following his Army infantry service. Rouse decided to pick up where he left off, this time enrolling in an Airframe and Powerplant  (A&P) Mechanic course while serving another two years in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic. He then worked as an A&P Mechanic in Colorado before coming to St. Louis to work in airline maintenance. From there he came to Elite Aviation where he could get a more well-rounded experience in aviation maintenance working on all aspects of the Cessna 172S fleet. Working for Elite Aviation also provided the inspiration to revive the dream of flight with a real plan of action.


"I've always strove to want to fly, but I wanted to be a military aviator and after ten years it never happened," Rouse reflected. "But I still wanted to do it. But in my opinion, the route I wanted to take was at least a really good base of knowledge of what these aircraft can do internally, how to fix them, take care of it myself. So I went that route first and I figured well, it'll come when I set myself a goal for in five years, when I started to do this, and be at least a licensed pilot. I'm on track, and that's the goal. I'll keep pushing on that goal and I'm not going to let myself get sidetracked from it anymore."

We pick up the flight training again on the morning of March 19, when Joshua Rouse is scheduled for more pattern work with CFI Corey Redington and a second solo opportunity. The photo essay below shows Rouse and Redington at Elite Aviation for their briefing, aircraft pre-flight inspection, taxi and takeoff. CFI Redington is then seen exiting the aircraft, leaving Joshua Rouse to do his solo patterns. Post-flight debriefing and logbook signoffs are then completed. 

The Aero Experience congratulates Joshua Rouse on the progress he has made toward obtaining his Private Pilot Certificate even since this story was recorded. We will provide periodic updates on his journey to flight in the coming months. For more on his inspiring story, check out the video featured below:

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Humanitarian Group Looks For Support to Update Aircraft for Service to Children's Home in Guatemala

By Carmelo Turdo
In the summer of 2018, Dave Reichard and Tom Stukenberg, the current and former Directors respectively, of the Manos de Compasion (Hands of Compassion) Children's Home in the Bay of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, were looking for a small twin-engine aircraft to replace their aging Cessna 172. Due to the poor road conditions and mountainous terrain, air transportation is the most efficient way of travel to pick up supplies and meet with government officials in the family court system in Guatemala City. An aircraft was found in the U.S., but it would need substantial maintenance before it could be put into service.

Over the next year and a half, the Midwest Aviation community stepped up and the green and white Piper Geronimo was flown to Guatemala in February 2020. It has been a blessing to the children at Manos de Compasion and the local community ever since. The following people dedicated their time and resources to make the aircraft available for this humanitarian service:

Paul Voorhees and the crew at Big River Aviation; Kevin Hammond, St Louis Community College; Steve Long, One Spirit Engineering; and Nick Turk, Turk Aviation. The Aero Experience documented the contributions of all the many talented and caring people who participated in the aircraft return to service.

Manos de Compasion has a need for additional avionics equipment to operate their Piper Geronimo safely in the Guatemalan mountains. The aircraft does not have a stall warning system, and there is a need for a Garmin Angle of Attack system to be installed. Steve Long of One Spirit Engineering will be volunteering his time and expenses to travel to Guatemala to install the system once it is purchased. A goal of $2,000 for the purchase of the equipment has been set for the project.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at the link below, with all proceeds going directly to this project to support of Manos de Compasion. Thank you for your generosity!

Project fund:

For more information on Manos de Compasion and the aircraft project, see The Aero Experience four-part series and the video posted below.

Ministry Uses Aircraft to Care for Children in Guatemala, Part Four: One Mission Accomplished, Another One Begins

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March General Aviation (and More!) Survey

By Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl
The Aero Experience looks back on the month of March with this General Aviation (and More!) Survey. In this edition, we will present a variety of aircraft we encountered during our visits to St. Louis Downtown Airport, Creve Coeur Airport, Spirit of St. Louis Airport, Farmington, MO Regional Airport and Garner Field Airport in Uvalde, TX. Our focus this month is on the St. Louis area flight schools, and we also have a bonus sighting from a recent event and static displays as well.

St. Louis Downtown Airport, Cahokia, IL

Creve Coeur Airport, Maryland Heights, MO

Spirit of St. Louis Airport, Chesterfield, MO

Farmington, MO Regional Airport

Garner Field Airport, Uvalde, TX

Bonus: Local Fly-by and Aircraft Static Displays

Gateway Chapter AAHF UH-1H Huey Over St. Charles County, MO

St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley Center for Workforce Innovation BD-5

VFW Post 1831, DeSoto, MO Bell Cobra Gunship

VFW Post 5077, O'Fallon, MO Bell Cobra Gunship