J.T. Seesing, key figure in Cape Girardeau aviation history, dies at 90

Friday, October 29, 2010

Under J.T. Seesing's guidance, aviation in Cape Girardeau took off.

Seesing, 90, of Cape Girardeau died Thursday at The Lutheran Home.

He was a fixture at the city's airport for more than 50 years, leading the transition from military airfield to civilian airport after World War II.

J.T. Seesing

"The success we're seeing now wouldn't be there without his guidance," said airport manager Bruce Loy of Seesing.

Seesing, along with partners John E. Godwin Jr. and James Schumacher, bought what had been known as the Consolidated School of Aviation in 1950 and changed the name to Cape Central Airways.

The company served as the airport's fixed-base operator, providing services such as fueling and aircraft maintenance.

At its peak, Cape Central Airways had about 50 employees, including its ground crew and radio shop. The company offered flight instruction, crop dusting and charter flights, and it eventually sold airplanes, too. The company also delivered the Sunday edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper throughout Southeast Missouri by air for a time.

In June 1960, Seesing organized the first Aviation Day in Cape Girardeau, the predecessor of the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival.

Each year Aviation Day drew bigger crowds to take "Penny a Pound" airplane rides and see educational displays and stunt-flying performances.

During the energy crisis in 1976, Seesing sold Cape Central Airways and shifted his focus into the aviation insurance business.

"Nearly 100 percent of pilots at the airport carried his insurance," said John Farquhar of Mid-State Aviation at the Cape Girardeau Airport.

He retired from aviation insurance in 2002.

Seesing was introduced to aviation as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps and attended the Consolidated School of Aviation in Cape Girardeau. He started working there in 1947 as a flight instructor and returned to Cape Girardeau after World War II.

He was a charter member of the Missouri Pilots Association, Cape Girardeau Pilots and Owners Association, a member of the Cape Girardeau Rotary Club for more than 55 years and received the Boy Scout Silver Beaver Award.

His family helped with Seesing's business throughout the years. His wife, Joyce, did clerical work and his children pitched in wherever they were needed and often piled into planes to ride along with their father as he flew.

"I remember once, an air traffic controller asked how many souls were on board. Dad said seven. It was a four-seater plane," said Seesing's daughter Betty Roth. "We practically had to pull my brother Mark out of the luggage rack."

Five of his six children learned to fly, and three are still active pilots.

Seesing's son Mark became the city's first full-time airport manager, from 1989 to 1993.



Pertinent address:

860 Limbaugh Drive, Scott City, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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