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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2003

Jet is donated to TPS Aviation Center


The plane, a Rockwell Sabreliner 40 twin-engine turbo-jet, was accepted last week by the Toledo Board of Education. It has a value of $217,230 and can accommodate two crew members and eight passengers.

School officials said the aircraft was moved yesterday to the Toledo Public Schools' Aviation Center from a private hangar elsewhere at the airport.

“All systems are functional,” said William Kessell, who helped pilot the aircraft for its owner, Cara Stirn, 76, of Teton Village, Wyo. “It is very important the school has something like this.”

The aircraft, which will be strictly a piece of instructional equipment, will join a group of four piston-engine aircraft at the aviation center that students use to learn maintenance procedures, said Nick Herman, who heads the mechanical school certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“A jet aircraft is something we have been trying to get for a long time,” he said. “This like fell out of the sky. It was pretty neat.”

With only 100 hours left before regulations require the engines be rebuilt, school officials say they don't intend to spend the money to allow it to resume flights. The engines must be overhauled every 3,000 hours.

Rebuilding the engines would cost $500,000, Mr. Kessell said. On top of that, $350,000 also would have to be found for a set of upgrades that include meeting more stringent noise abatement rules set by the FAA.

“We won't be leaving the airport grounds with it,” Rich Naves, the airframe instructor who expects that more than 50 high school-aged students will be enrolled at the center this fall. “It is really a fantastic tool for us to have a fully operational jet aircraft.”

The aircraft has equipment to maintain a pressurized cabin that students can learn to service, plus hydraulic systems, and complete radio and navigation equipment.

“It has a full set of systems on it for instruction where we are not just looking at drawings or mockups,” Mr. Naves said. “So we can go out and operate it and see how the systems work.”

The aircraft, built in 1963 in St. Louis, was one of 400 civilian models produced beginning that year until production ended in 1981. An additional 400 military units also were manufactured.

School officials and the donor spent several months working out details of the donation.

The gift to Toledo Public Schools occurred quite by chance. Ms. Stirn has no ties to the Toledo area, but the plane was kept at Toledo Express because Mr. Kessell makes his home in the Swanton area, Howard Stirn, the donor's husband, said.

“We asked them do they want it, and they said yes,” Mr. Stirn said.

The Stirns, along with others, own the R Lazy S dude ranch. Mrs. Stirns' father, Kelvin Smith, was a wealthy Cleveland businessman and benefactor of Case Western Reserve University. Mr. Smith, with his brothers in the late 1920s, founded Lubrizol Corp.

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