Thursday, March 06, 2014

Late Minnesota State University aviation prof to be inducted in MN Aviation Hall of Fame

John Roberts, the former head of Minnesota State University's aviation program, has been selected for induction into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.

Roberts helped build the MSU pilot program into one with a national reputation that was home to as many as 300 students at a time. But his 22-year tenure at the college ended with rancor and lawsuits. The dispute included university leaders criticizing Roberts' practice of getting fees from administering Federal Aviation Administration flight-check tests to students and Roberts accusing MSU's top brass of waging a vendetta against him.

Countless students, however, credited their careers in aviation to Roberts, who personally tested and approved more than 3,000 students for pilot certificates and ratings. He also provided the mentorship and structured an innovative flight-training program that enabled 400 of them to obtain employment with the airlines.

Shortly after Roberts' death from cancer in 2012, one of his trainees — Jerry Goodrich of Prior Lake — told The Free Press that he once offhandedly asked an airline cap­tain whether she knew Roberts. He recalls her response: “Know him? I am wearing this uniform because of John. Please tell J.R. that I thank him from the bottom of my heart.”

“John really is something of a legend in Minnesota aviation,” Goodrich said.

That will become official at a banquet April 12 in Bloomington, according to Noel Allard, Chairman of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. Banquet and registration information is available at

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