Sunday, December 20, 2020

Piper PA-28-140, N1817J: Donated by Dr. Thomas W. Carey Jr. to Lincoln Land Community College aviation maintenance program

A Springfield man has donated his late father’s Piper Cherokee aircraft to the Lincoln Land Community College aviation program.

The plane donated by Dr. Thomas W. Carey Jr., a Lincoln Land alumnus, will be used by students for hands-on training experiences in aviation mechanics.

Lincoln Land is one of only three community colleges in the state that has an aviation mechanics training program.

The program has about 30 students and is housed at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

The 1968 Piper PA-28-140 fixed wing single-engine aircraft has four seats.

Thomas W. Carey Sr. purchased the aircraft in 1968. It was only the seventh one built of that particular model.

Carey Sr. was a pilot for more than 60 years and was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“This model was very special,” Carey Jr. explained. “My father flew on missions in a similar aircraft during the Vietnam War and once returned back to base with numerous bullet holes in his plane.”

David Pietrzak, Lincoln Land's aviation program director, said he was grateful to the Carey family.

“It is an honor to continue use of this aircraft as a learning tool in our program to enhance our students’ hands-on training,” Pietrzak said.

One of the other planes used by Lincoln Land aviation students for training is a Learjet 24B that once belonged to actor John Travolta and singer/songwriter Paul Anka.

There is “a strong indication,” Pietrzak said, that it is the same chartered aircraft that billionaire and aerospace pioneer Howard Hughes died on in 1976. Hughes was on his way from Acapulco, Mexico, to Houston for emergency medical treatment when he died over south Texas.

Lincoln Land offers degrees in aviation mechanics and aviation management. Students also can earn airframe and powerplant certificates in 18 months.

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