The short, successful aviation career of John Kartychak

Mission accomplished: Solo an aircraft

One item on John Kartychak’s bucket list was to solo an airplane. What may seem odd to some is that Kartychak didn’t desire to be a pilot—he just wanted to solo. As a longtime member of AOPA because of his attraction to airplanes, Kartychak turned to AOPA Insurance when it was time for his solo. He said, “I’ll be 70 years old next month so this was a big deal for me.” John Kartychak

He went through a ground school course and then was ready to move on. He took lessons at Pacific State Aviation at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, Calif. At first, his plan was to solo in a light sport aircraft—he thought that would be easier—but the flight school only had one light sport airplane available for instruction and so suggested that he just go for the Cessna 172 with the promise that he could always switch back to the LSA.

“I wasn’t looking to become a pilot,” he said. “I wasn’t going to have an aviation career at my age; I simply wanted to do the solo.”

A few months later, he still raves about his instructor, Moshen Gholampour. It seems to be one of those ideal student/instructor relationships that occur; they became a great team. “He was so patient with me since at my age, I forget a lot,” Kartychak said. “We got along great.”

On the day of his solo, in front of his wife and family, he completed four takeoffs and landings. He called the day “the happiest time of my life—I’ll never forget it.” He had high praise for his flight school as well as the airport community, saying, “Everyone at the airport was so polite and wonderful. I learned a lot even thought it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

His last flight was from his home airport to Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast, accompanied by his flight instructor, to have a fish and chips lunch and then home again. “I’ve stayed in touch with my instructor,” Kartychak said. “I am going to take him sailing.”

Now that he’s soloed an airplane, what’s next on the bucket list? Kartychak said, “Now my wife and I want to do some road trips.”

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