Learning to Fly
Company President Teaches Youth about Flying
by Samantha Carpenter
Lord Hadane, Britain’s Minister of War in 1907, said in that same year, “The aeroplane will never fly.” This was four years after the Wright Brothers had flown their powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine—the Kitty Hawk.
Thanks to the Wright Brothers, who proved Hadane wrong, flying enthusiasts like Anthony “Tony” Kostusik Jr., president of Mid-States Millwork of Lenexa, Kan., and a past president of the Association of Millwork Distributors, can enjoy flying planes.
“I joined the Air force in 1957 and enjoyed aircraft, although I didn’t fly. I was a mechanic,” Kostusik said. “After I got out of the Air force, I took advantage of the schooling paid for by the government … so I chose to use it for learning to fly.”
While he says that he really hasn’t had any “close calls,” he recalled a time in the 1960s when he looked out his left window and saw a Saber military jet bearing right down on him.
“It was a pretty sight to see all this happen, but it was unnerving when it actually occurred,” Kostusik said.
Kostusik not only enjoys flying but he sees its practical use for his business.
“In 1976, I started renting airplanes to get back and forth and do different things in my business. In 1977, I bought my first twin-engine airplane, [a Piper Seneca II].”
Kostusik says that he flies once a week for business, and he currently owns a Cessna Citation Jet.
The longest trip Kostusik has flown has been to Alaska.
“I try to stay in the continental United States for insurance purposes,” he said.
Kostusik says that flying has taught him to be disciplined in life. He says what it has taught him about business is how important it is to be accurate and to have no mistakes.
Kostusik also uses his knowledge of flying to educate underprivileged children in the Kansas City area about flying.
For 23 years, Kostusik has been buying flight time around Kansas City’s Plaza and taking children up in a single-engine airplane to see the lights.
“I’ve increased it to about four schools between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.
Kostusik says each group is about nine people. While the flight instructor takes three people up, Kostusik takes the others to the hangar and explains flying to them. He says flying teaches the children physics, math and navigation.
After each flight, Kostusik takes the group out to dinner wherever they want to go and each child gets a Christmas present.
Kostusik says that he doesn’t operate the flights with the children but that he used to.
“I want to share what I have … I enjoy my time with the local youth, and I try to educate and empower them to be able to handle life in the future,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Kostusik has many great anecdotes to share about the children he’s flown. He said that the children come up with the most surprising comments. He said that one child once asked, “Can we fly over the moon?”
© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.