Historical Marker #2374 in Monterey notes Owen County’s first airfield, which was started by Harry Clark Karsner following World War II.
Harry Clark Karsner had two passions: flying and sharing his faith. He was able to combine his enthusiasm for both of those things in a unique way.
Karsner was born in Owen County in 1914. After graduating from Monterey High School, Karsner received his pilot’s license. Then, in 1938, he completed training for his commercial pilot’s license. Karsner briefly taught aeronautics at Centre College, and then during World War II, Karsner used his skills by training other pilots as a flight instructor at Ryan’s School of Aeronautics in San Diego, California. In 1942, he was appointed the school’s flight commander.
Following World War II, Karsner returned to Owen County and built a four-plane hangar and airstrip on his farm land. He taught those who wanted to learn how to fly and soon Karsner was using his planes to minister to thousands. He took to the air with recorded sermons and projected them through speakers from his “Gospel Plane.” Flying over Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, Karsner used his own money and time to share his religious beliefs. Karsner’s wife, Sarah Jane, provided her voice and organ skills to the recordings as well.
In 1959, Karsner was appointed by Governor Albert Chandler as the state’s commissioner of aeronautics. He also held a number of local political positions such as magistrate and chairman of the Owen County Board of Education. Karsner continued his twin loves of flying and sharing his faith until his death in 1971 at age 57.