the first contemplation of creating the Duluth Aviation Institute,
the vision was to impart and cultivate an understanding of
aviation by fostering inclusiveness.
Through reflection and research, the founder of the
Institute, Sandra Ettestad, recognized an inattentiveness to
contribute in a more significant way the gifts we had received
through the aviation experience, and the knowledge we have to
share of our aviation history and its science.
research revealed abandoned knowledge of our local citizen’s
contribution to our nation’s aviation achievements.
Most significant of those achievements are:
In 1913, Oliver Rosto,
Duluth’s first aircraft designer and pilot, built and flew his
Rosto Monoplane named Duluth
No. 1. He went on
to work for the U. S. Civil Aeronautics Administration developing
international air transportation safety and inspection.
In 1952, Rosto was decorated with "The Civil
Aeronautics Administration Medal for Distinguished Service to
International Aviation". In
1954, he was awarded the "American Order of Merit" for
his contributions to civil aviation.
In 2009, he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall
In 1913, Julius Barnes
wanted to learn how to fly and was curious about the recent
invention of the aircraft. As
a grain trader heavily involved in shipping, he knew
transportation was a significant part of commerce.
He purchased an airship from the Benoist Aircraft Company
and initiated a city-wide celebration to showcase the airship.
The Lark O’ the Lake Carnivals featured The
Lark of Duluth throughout the summer.
The Lark of Duluth, still owned by Barnes, became the
world’s first airliner and flew the inaugural flight of the St.
Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line.
In 1913, Robert Gilruth was
born in Nashwauk and moved to Duluth when he was just nine.
He went to school at the Duluth Normal School, East Junior
High, Central High and Junior College. Gilruth continued his
education at the University of Minnesota and received his masters
in aerospace engineering. He
was offered a job as a junior engineer at NACA, National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics and predecessor of NASA.
His career path climbed and in 1958, he became the first
director of the manned space flight program in Houston, Texas.
He led the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle
program and is recognized as the Father
of Human Space Flight, the Godfather
to the Astronauts.
a new understanding of our aviation legacy and in the spirit of
service to our community, a new direction was proposed to
individuals who value public responsibility, intellectual rigor,
and community building.
Our vision is a community inspired and enriched
by the art and science of aviation.
Our mission is to preserve our community's deep
aviation history, and to educate our community with this history
and knowledge of aviation and aerospace.
With education at the heart of the Duluth Aviation Institute, we shall:
a context in which to trace the continuity of the human experience
lifelong learning to pursue an understanding of history, science,
the natural world, artistic expression and humankind;
meeting grounds where enriching experiences are offered both
through human interaction and interaction with the aviation
leadership in our community to raise awareness of the value of
committing resources toward collaborative efforts in science,
technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
PATH TO AVIATION - Gilruth Continuum
The Path to Aviation
program is the highest priority for the Institute.
In collaboration with the Duluth, Proctor and Hermantown School
Duluth Aviation Institute is providing in-class STEM education for 900 sixth graders each school season.
The Path to Aviation program
is developed and marketed freely by AOPA, Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association, for their youth education.
The program was modified to included Duluth aviation
history, role models, aircraft, airports and local weather.
This evolution created the Path
to Aviation - Gilruth Continuum, named after Robert Gilruth,
Father of Human Space Flight, and child citizen of Duluth.
components are the
assigned Minnesota Academic Standards, eleven Power
Points, customized lesson activities and extra credit projects,
in-classroom aviation instructors, and local industry experts as
Equipment and supplies for the
program are provided to students
through the Institute and its funders.
As a reward for academic achievement, the top students
participate in a field trip to Sky Harbor Airport where they can
become a Young Eagle through the Experimental Aircraft Association
(EAA) Young Eagles program. Flights
are provided by EAA Chapters 272-Duluth/Superior, 1221-Cloquet,
and 1128-Two Harbors. The top student in each school
receives the Apollo Gilruth Continuum Award for academic
The Path to Aviation lessons
have proven successful in providing students an opportunity to
have a real world educational experience designed to inspire
student interest in science, technology, engineering, and
O’ the Lake Festival
Lark O’ the Lake Festival is our vehicle for introducing the
Duluth Aviation Institute to the community and region for
recognition of our contributions and awareness of our goals.
The Festival is on a weekend in July that intentionally celebrates
aviation in Duluth and our centennial replica airplane, The
LARK of DULUTH. The
Festival is a three day immersion of Duluth at the turn of the
century. We have inaugurated a family friendly experience that attracts all
generations with vintage airplanes and machines, fun, food, music,
regattas, parades, games, barbershop quartets, band concerts,
fireworks and flights. The
festival is a biennial event and a fund raiser for the Institute.