SAU president oldest person to soar with the Blue Angels

Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2011, 5:56 pm
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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


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