SAU president oldest person to soar with the Blue Angels

Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2011, 5:56 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By John Marx,
As she placed herself in the rumble seat of an F/A18 Hornet earlier this month, Sister Joan Lescinski had no idea she was setting a record.

The personable and outgoing president of St. Ambrose University asked Lieutenant Dan Tickle, her Blue Angels' ride-along pilot, what was the age of the oldest ride he'd ever taken into the wild blue yonder.

"He shared with me that 60 was the oldest (aged) person his group had ever taken up," Sister Joan said. "I told him we were about to take care of that record."

Sister Joan, the first female president in St. Ambrose history, earned right to spend 45 minutes in the air with the Blue Angels through the Navy's Key Influencer Rider Program. KIRP offers people who have positive influences on young adults the opportunity to fly in an F/A18 Hornet. Sister Joan shared a Blue Angels' ride at the Lincoln, Neb., Airshow.

"I liked the idea because it is tied to the goals we have as educators," Sister Joan said in a recent phone conversation. "The KI program offers a unique opportunity, and I can tell you it was an amazing ride."

Sister Joan, it should be noted, is no stranger to the air. She takes flying lessons, has sky-dived and has flown with the famed Red Baron flying squadron. Despite the Red Baron group's tactical skills, nothing is like 35,000 feet at 600 knots with the Blue Angels.


"The experience, honestly, was phenomenal," Sister Joan said. "The skill by which the pilot handles the aircraft and the speed by which you travel, are truly amazing. It was 45 minutes, and it felt like it was five minutes because it was that exciting. Though all went well with the flight, I will admit to asking my nephew — who is in the military and was waiting for me when I landed — to lend me a hand when I reached the ground. It was quite a workout."

There was a message to Sister Joan's flight with the Blue Angels. As someone who is older than 60 as she politely shared with her pilot, she wanted to prove one is never too old to experience something new and exciting. They are words, if you know or have spent any time with Sister Joan, she lives.

"You truly are never too old," she said. "It's OK to seek something new and exciting, and that was the kind of adventure flying with the Blue Angels was for me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I'll not forget."

Sister Joan assumed her role as president of SAU in 2007. Now, almost five years into her presidency, she says she has come to appreciate the Quad-Cities and all it has to offer.

"The students and all staff at St. Ambrose truly are amazing and have embraced me," Sister Joan said. "I am so lucky and blessed in that area. It is the same with so many things I have encountered in my time in the Quad-Cities. What an amazing community to be a part of."

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)