John M. Pichitino

John doing what he loved

John Pichitino, whom many knew as "Pich", was born in 1952 in Waseca, Minnesota. Though he lived in many states, for the past 30 years he lived in Nevada City and flew from Nevada County Airport. John had a highly successful career in broadcast technology as a producer, editor, and consultant. John had many interests but none surpassed the passion, time and devotion he invested in flying. He began flying at the age of 15. He loved the principles of flight, the skill of navigation, and the mechanics of the aircraft. Leonardo da Vinci said it but John lived it - "Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

Nothing brought more joy to John than taking someone up and introducing them to the taste of flight. He literally took hundreds of children and adults to the skies, handing them their “First Flight” certificates and hoping they would want to return. He gave countless hours to evangelizing for his passion, sharing it and nurturing it in others with humor, confidence and kindness. In a room of over 200 people gathered to remember John, over two thirds raised their hands when asked if they had ever flown with John. What an amazing legacy.

John was a FAA Certified Flight Instructor-Instruments for more than 10 years. This opened up a world of opportunity to take people “under his wing” and teach them everything he knew and loved about flying. To young people and especially some with difficult lives he would gently advise that they leave their troubles on the ground and give themselves over to the demands of the flight and the beauty of the sky. His first student, a female Grass Valley teenager, now flies for an airline. His students said his upbeat personality, endless patience and enthusiasm made learning to fly a joy. John's teaching style emphasized learning in an atmosphere which was both stimulating and enjoyable. "Flying an airplane is a blast - learning to fly should be no different.”

John was a fixture at Nevada County airport for over 25 years; anyone who loved to fly knew John. He was a volunteer and Grass Valley representative for the FAA Safety Program and, in retirement, “wrenching” airplanes part time.

John’s passion will live on in the students who benefit from this scholarship and who learn to forever turn their eyes skyward.

High Flight

"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds - 
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - 
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
  Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along 
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue 
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace, 
where never lark, or even eagle, flew; 
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod 
the high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
put out my hand and touched the face of God."

- John Gillespie Magee, Jr.