John “Jack” Claude Bartholet, EAA 1021797, is a flying octogenarian, having recently turned 80. On May 12, 2021, he celebrated 50 years of soaring through the sky.
Jack’s first lesson was May 1, 1971, in a Cessna 150, N61326, at the Spangdahlem Aero Club at Trier Airfield in Germany. He soloed on May 12, 1971, and hasn’t stopped flying since.
Growing up, Jack lived all over the place at many different military bases. He attended high school at an Army base in Tokyo, Japan.
In 1971, Jack was working in Germany for the Corps of Engineers at the Bitburg Air Base. He started flying with an Air Force aero club at nearby Spangdahlem Air Base.
“Learning to fly in Europe was a constant adventure, with different customs, procedures, and languages,” Jack recalled. “After getting my license, we flew all over Europe, mostly in a 145 hp Cessna 172.”
Jack said he enjoys flying because of the fun, adventure, and beauty of flight.
“The desire/need to fly is just plain addictive,” Jack said. “I feel a sense of belonging in the sky. I particularly like the sensation of watching the world pass by below me. And the accomplishment of seeing landmarks and destinations appear before me just where they are supposed to be.”
To date, Jack has flown 449 EAA Young Eagles missions.
“I was approaching 500 Young Eagle flights, when the virus shut us down,” Jack said. “I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the kids and the team activity with EAA.”
A few of his favorite aviation adventures have been flying across the Alps at Brenner Pass to Italy and as far south as Sicily.
“We also flew across the English Channel, over the White Cliffs of Dover, to a World War II RAF airfield called Biggin Hill on the outskirts of London,” Jack said. “Another flight, took turns with several other pilots in 2003 as co-pilot flying Ron Alexander’s DC-3 from Georgia to AirVenture at Oshkosh.”
Congratulations to many happy years of flying, Jack!
Have you reached a milestone recently? Passed a checkride, given your first or hundredth Young Eagles flight, flown your homebuilt for the first time? Tell us about it at EAA.org/Submissions.