Glenn and Carol Punske-Brasch

Glenn and Carol Punske-Brasch give back through public service.

Like many pilots, Glenn always wanted to fly. He grew up in Chicago, attended college at Southern Illinois University where he began to fulfill his dream of flight fairly early in life by getting his private pilot license. 

Another desire was to find clearer skies, so he moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1974. After serving as a beat cop and first responder, he was able to further his dream to fly helicopters, and his path placed him squarely in the Flight and Safety Department of the Tucson Police Department, “chasing criminals with a helicopter,” he says. He soon earned Commercial, Multi-Engine and Instrument ratings for fixed wing and helicopters, and has instructed in both.

Glenn met Carol Punske at a health club and eventually they married.

After twenty-one years in the police department, Glenn retired in 2001 and took time away to help Carol raise their son, then shifted to another area of public service. Glenn signed on with PHI Air Medical as a medevac helicopter pilot. “It was very rewarding work,” Glenn says. “I saw people on the worst day of their life, and was able to help them.” He admitted there were times the weather was so bad that he should not have been in the air, “but it was worth it,” he adds. His company had fifty flight bases and got calls from all across the Southwest US but the busiest base, ironically, was tiny Safford, AZ. Why? Because it was about equal distance from the larger cities of Phoenix, Albuquerque and El Paso. “If someone is injured, they want to be treated near their home, not near ours,” he said.

Carol is as dedicated to public service as Glenn, and served 30 years in Arizona’s Child Protective Service as an abuse investigator. In her “retirement” Carol worked ten more years for a nonprofit agency serving kids in foster care. She has been repeatedly honored for her service and just recently won the “Heroes Without Capes” award from Southwest Arizona’s Childrens’ Advocacy Center for her dedication to ending child abuse and her compassion for children who need safety and healing.

Glenn and his son, also a helicopter pilot.

Their son is now a helicopter pilot. “I guess I gave him one too many rides,” Glenn jokes. “But it paid off for us.” He lives in Tucson with his wife and flew for an air ambulance operation, and was promoted to a position as instructor and check airman as well.

Because Glenn knows what it’s like to have a dream and overcome challenges, he decided he wanted to help others fulfill their dream to fly. In 2017, he and a few other pilots created their own nonprofit called Southern Arizona Teen Aviation, Inc. (SATA) and welcome high school students to learn about aviation from rivets to flight. So far, they have completed and sold three airplanes, and are working on their fourth, an RV-12iS. “These kids don’t get high school credit for this. They come on their own time, and it’s really a cool thing,” he says. With over 50 years and 6,500 hours in his logbooks, Glenn can share a lot of experience with these eager learners. Students have gone on to become certified mechanics, CFI’s, some have become Air Force pilots, and some return to SATA to become mentors themselves.

Glenn’s custom airplane artwork on display.

Like the other SATA mentors, Glenn is an aircraft builder. He loves his RV-9A, and when passengers ask about the placard on his panel that says “10/10/22” he explains, “It took me ten years, ten months and twenty-two days to complete this airplane.”

Completely happy in the West, Glenn and Carol spend much of their summers in western Montana. Many folks have either met, or will meet Glenn while he volunteers as host at Ryan Field. Ask him about SATA and you’ll feel his passion about helping young people fulfill their dream to fly. 

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Submitted on June 11, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray

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