Official Nebraska Government Website
Official Nebraska Government Website

NDOT, Division of Aeronautics
Mr. Ronnie Mitchell, Director

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Charles 0. Petersen was born in Queens, NY in 1916. Orphaned in 1929, he moved to Marquette, NE to live with his aunt. In 1939, he received his first plane ride with Evelyn Sharp at the Grand Island airport. He was immediately hooked on flying but could not afford lessons. When WWII broke out, he tried to enlist in the Navy’s air program but was rejected since he was married and had a daughter. He then joined the Army Air Corps, where he flew Stearmans, BT-13s, UC-78s and finally B-24s. Petersen was assigned to photo recon school and ended up in the 24th Combat Mapping Squadron, India, flying a modified B-24. He also served during the Korean War. In the early 1950’s, Petersen operated an FBO at the Grand Island airport, giving flight instruction and flying charter. In 1957, he began aerial spraying following a grasshopper infestation at Loop City. In 1966, Petersen moved to Minden, where the business grew to include seven Grumman Ag-Cats, making it the largest Ag-Cat operation in the country at that time. He gave flight instruction through the 1960s and 1970s and served on Minden’s Airport Board from 1980 to 1992. In 1982 Petersen Flying Service began discussions with the F AA concerning the use of automotive gasoline in the Pratt and Whitney R -985. Following the first auto fuel STC (Supplemental Type Certificates) obtained by the EAA for the Cessna 150, the FAA agreed to a test program proposed by Petersen for Ag-Cats and their radial engines. Petersen obtained his first two STCs on March 23, 1983 through his company, Petersen Aviation. Petersen Aviation then embarked on a test program which ultimately resulted in the issuance of auto fuel STC’s for 36 different engine types and over 100 different airframes. By 1989, over 20,000 auto fuel STCs had been sold to owners and operators all over the world. Petersen Flying Service was eventually sold to Buffalo Air Service of Kearney. Charles 0. Petersen died in March of 1994.


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