Viewpoints

His passion for planes touched many lives

February 9, 2012. It is a day that will forever be etched into our memories. On that fateful day, Paul Schlieben was killed when his plane crashed shortly after taking off at the Lebanon Airport. Paul’s death left a huge void in many people’s lives. He had just taken off when he experienced engine trouble. He attempted to return to the airport but his plane crashed about 150 yards short of the runway.

Paul was a programmer, entrepreneur and pilot. Everyone that had the pleasure of meeting Paul loved him. He was just an all-around great guy. The one thing that I remember about him is his smile. It was a genuine and contagious smile that instantly made you very comfortable around him. Paul made a huge difference in many people’s lives. He loved to fly and volunteered for Angel Flight, providing free air transportation for individuals and families with medical needs.

He also founded a program at Conval High School called “Take Off and Grow.” This program mentored students interested in aviation and gave them a strong sense of community. It allowed students to obtain their pilot’s licenses by earning flight hours in exchange for community service.

Paul’s love of aviation and sense of community live on. His legacy continues and can be seen in the success of Take Off and Grow graduates. I know three of them firsthand: Edward Glidden will be graduating this year with his Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. Another TOAG graduate, Andrew Long, obtained his Associate’s degree in Aviation Technology and is currently pursuing a second degree in aviation science.

Another TOAG graduate, Devon Skerry, is a member of the N.H. Air National Guard and plans to obtain degrees in aerospace science and fire science. Paul was not only these students’ mentor, he was also like a second father to them. Graeham Ellerkamp recently got his pilot’s license in Nebraska and hopes to become a pilot. Sam Mullen obtained his pilot’s license while in TOAG and continues to fly as well.

Paul Schlieben made a tremendous difference in many people’s lives. He is sorely missed, but remains deeply loved.

Ruth Bergmann lives in Greenfield. Her son, Edward Glidden, participated in the “Take Off and Grow” program.

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