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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Paying Respects to Aviation Mentor

John Roberts headed aviation department from 1981-2003.

Brian Ojanpa, Mankato Free Press, 9-18-2012

People will be flying into Mankato from as far away as Texas Wednesday to pay respects to aviation teacher/mentor John Roberts, who died last week.

The fly-in/drive-in 9:30-11:30 a.m. breakfast at Mankato Regional Airport will precede the funeral service for the former Minnesota State University aviation depart­ment head who succumbed to can­cer Wednesday at age 70 at his Eagan home.

“John really is something of a legend in Minnesota aviation,” said Roberts trainee Jerry Goodrich of Prior Lake.

Roberts headed the MSU depart­ment from 1981-2003, winning awards along the way as the top college aviation program. He approved more than 3,000 students for pilot certificates and ratings with 400 graduates going on to careers with airline companies.

A Life Remembered

Goodrich said on a recent Delta flight he offhandedly asked the 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.”

Goodrich said in “ hangar talk” sessions he and other pilots had, conversation invariably would get around to Roberts, and the praise for him would be effusive.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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