Kaneland 2013 grad earns pilots license

By on June 21, 2013

Photos: 2013 Kaneland grad Alec Koczka of Elburn took his first step toward a career in aviation by earning his private pilot certificate in May. Courtesy Photos

ELBURN—Who knew the most exciting part of an 18-year-old’s day would be landing a plane with crosswinds in excess of 25 knots?

Alec Koczka, an Elburn resident and 2013 Kaneland High School graduate, took the first step in moving toward a career in aviation by earning his private pilot certificate in May. Taking Alec a little under a year to complete the ground school and flight time program, he studied the mechanics of flying, airport operations, and federal regulations, in addition to one-on-one instruction in the air. Flight instructor David Gillingham of Fly America in DeKalb said Alec is one of the best students he has seen in years in regard to focus and good judgment.

“The best quality about Alec is that he consistently pays attention to what is going on in the air and has excellent focus,” Gillingham said. “I have no doubt about his ability to command an aircraft.”
Rich Koczka, Alec’s father, remembers his son always looking up at the sky, even as a young boy. The natural response as a parent of a child who is intrigued about something is to encourage that fascination.

“You end up investing (financially) in your child now or later, so we just decided to start with Alec from a young age,” Rich said in reference to Alec’s involvement in electrician classes at the Fox Valley Career Center, and recent achievement of earning his private pilot license.

The next step to becoming a skilled pilot is to take the necessary training to become instrument rated. Taking additional classes and extensive training in flying an aircraft in harsh weather conditions will require Alec to fly safely by referencing only instruments and taking cues from the aircraft.

Beginning in August, Alec will attend Lewis University in southwest suburban Romeoville, Ill., with a double major in aviation maintenance management that gives students the skills and technical training needed to become a certified aviation maintenance technician. The oldest aviation program in Illinois, Lewis University is also the only college in the state with an on-site airport for hands-on training.

“Along with that, I will be flying and continuing my training towards becoming an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot),” Alec said.

When asked who has supported him on his journey to the skies Alec replied that his dad and grandpa have been a big influence by getting him into the art of flying.

“My parents support me 110 percent the whole way. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Alec said.