New flight school, familiar faces
Celestial Kinetics offer flying lessons
By James Card
This month was a milestone for Celestial Kinetics. Their first student earned his private pilot license at the Waupaca Municipal Airport and they have more students logging time in the air and working on flight simulators.
Kent Sykes is the owner of Celestial Kinetics and he has teamed up with flight instructor Noah Lencki, a 2020 Waupaca High School graduate who was active in the Young Eagles program and earned his pilot’s license during his senior year.
Since then, Lencki earned his rating/certification for instrument, commercial pilot, commercial multi-engine pilot, multi-engine flight instructor, a single-engine flight instructor and instrument flight instructor.
It’s a match of an up-and-coming aviator working with an experienced pilot who earned his wings long ago.
Sykes is a familiar face at the airport. For 15 years he was the pilot for the Waupaca Foundry but his connection to the Waupaca airport goes back much further. He went there often with his father when he was a boy.
“Dad told us when we were 15, 16 years old he would get us involved in lessons if we wanted to learn how to fly. I was the one that really latched onto it. On my 16th birthday, I soloed from this airport,” said Sykes.
That led to a four-year stint in the Air Force and after that, enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Sykes served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard working various aircraft maintenance positions and he retired from the Air Guard in 2003 with the rank of Major.
In 1989, he decided to start flying aircraft after years of working on them. He earned his private pilot’s license, along with other ratings to start his professional flying career. That’s when he started flying for the Waupaca Foundry.
Missions in Afghanistan, Iraq
When that job came to a close, Sykes took on a new challenge: flying Army and Air Force aircraft on combat reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. For 10 years he flew a modified Beechcraft King Air.
“I did most of my time in Afghanistan and then there were two years in Iraq. I would do 60 days on and 60 days at home. Basically, half a year I was in-country. So cumulative I’ve got about five years of time in theatre,” said Sykes.
Currently, he works part-time for a charter company where he flies for two weeks and has two weeks off. When Sykes is out flying charter, Lencki teaches the lessons in Waupaca.
They train students with a Cessna 150 and a Cessna 172 that is getting an avionics upgrade and a new paint job. They also have a “taildragger” or a tail-wheeled airplane so students can develop expertise with that aircraft. In the airport office, they have a FAA-approved flight simulator that has multiple monitors with aircraft controls.
Sykes said they work with students to meet their goals – whether it is to obtain a private pilot license as a hobby or to train pilots to put them on track in an aviation career.
“I’ve always had a fondness for the Waupaca airport because this is where I started. I’m trying to give something back to the airport that has meant so much to me over the years,” said Sykes.
More information about flight instruction can be found at www.flycelestialkinetics.com.