Tribune Photos/Rich Schubert

July 10, 2021

Lake Lotawana residents were given a special treat on the Fourth of July when KC Flight, an RV aircraft formation team, took to the skies over the lake.

The team flies various models of the Van’s RV Experimental aircraft line.

They have performed National Anthem flyovers for the KC Chiefs, KC Royals, Sporting KC, KC Symphony, NASCAR, IRL, Lake of the Ozarks boat races and at multiple area High School Football games on Friday nights. The team also performs at civilian and military airshows.

KC Flight was founded in 2009 with just four members including Lee’s Summit resident Keith Schult.

Born in 1949, Schult grew up in small towns all over Kansas, the result his father’s career as a high school music teacher taking them to different schools. In boyhood, Schult and his brothers were members of the Kansas Boys Chorus, which his father Kenneth directed. One year, the chorus sang for People-to-People, an event which Bob Hope, Walt Disney and President Eisenhower attended.

The Schults were raised in Christian Science, and Schult remained a devoted follower for his whole life, never touching any substances, and relying on the Bible and Science & Health for guidance and health. Their childhood education was steeped in music and art. His father was a painter, and taught his children, but Schult took more to photography. Schult sang, and played the piano, trumpet, and bass guitar. He graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1967, going on to Park College to double major in music and education. Upon his graduation in 1971, he accepted a position as an elementary school music teacher. He spent several years in this career. During this time, he invented a machine that played the piano for him, in order to better teach the students. It was also the Vietnam era, so Schult spent six years in the National Guard, where he reached the rank of corporal. He met and married his first wife, Linda, another teacher, and together they had a son, Ethan, in June 1978. The marriage dissolved in 1980.

Keith Schult at a Lee’s Summit Airport open house in 2018

Throughout their youth, Schult and his brothers enjoyed a close relationship, often referring to themselves as the Three Musketeers. Schult used to regale his family as they sat around the dinner table with tales of their escapades. Three of these tales are “Super Pumpkin”; “I’m Not Pushing!!!”; and “Tarzan.” In college, they formed a band called Brementown, beginning more than a decade of performing together. In their thirties, they renamed the band Sardonyx, and had a song titled “All Men Are Not the Same” featured on radio station KY102’s “Home Tapes” segment. Schult played bass and trumpet, Robert drums and vocals, and Jeffrey keyboards and lead vocals. By this point, all three had become music teachers, but they had started a frame shop called Fine Arts & Frames on the side. By the 1980’s, all three quit teaching and devoted themselves to growing their frame shop into a national and international signage business. Schult photographed all their merchandise for sale.

The side of Schult’s plane decorated with images of family members and their military careers

It was at his business that Schult met his second wife, Johnnie. She worked as property manager for the shopping center in which they rented a space. The couple was married in August of 1984.

They started their family quickly. Lauren was born in February 1986, Karen in July 1987, and Heather in February 1989. Johnnie often said she didn’t need to wait because she trusted him completely. As she told her daughters, “He loved God, he loved me, and I knew that he would love you.” He was fond of encouraging his children with such aphorisms as “Life’s an adventure!” and “Variety’s the spice of life!”

By 1998, Schult had faithfully established his family and business. There was just one thing left to try: flying. Schult took flying lessons, completing his first solo flight in 1998, and became a private pilot in January 1998. Flying became his passion. Throughout his life, he owned three aircraft: a Cessna Skyhawk, a Commander 114B, and finally a two-seat RV6A sport plane he named the “Joltin’ Johnnie Jean.” Schult flew his airplane all over the United States for business and pleasure, including many Air Force bases where his company was installing signage, and many trips to the annual EAA event in Oshkosh, WI. His was the first RV plane based at Lee’s Summit Municipal airport. He joined Chapter 91 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and later helped build Hangar “L” in 2007. Other RV builders and owners began to base their aircraft at the airport and took formation flight lessons together; their first shows were for high school football games. In 2009, they formed KC Flight, a civilian formation flight team. Schult was a founding member. The group flew in performances all over the country. For a few years, they also did flyovers for the home games of the Royals, Chiefs, and Sporting KC. One flyover unofficially broke the world record for the largest civilian formation flight, with 49 total ships. Pilots from all over the country flew in to take part, and KC Flight today boasts members from all over the U.S. All the pilots had callsigns; because of his love of music, Schult’s friends christened him “Jazz.” Schult earned his commercial pilot’s certificate in 2014 and continued to fly as often as possible until he became ill in 2021.

Keith Schult passed away in May of this year.

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