A love of living, flying | VailDaily.com

A love of living, flying

Scott N. Miller
Special to the DailyThe love of flight was central to the life of Jim Pollitt, 51, who came to the Eagle Valley in the early 1980s.

The Eagle pilot apparently was on a pleasure trip March 26 when the plane he was piloting crashed north of Mount Garfield in Mesa County.”How many hundreds of times has he made that flight?” says Alan Echtler, a friend of Pollitt’s.His three passengers – cousins, Antonio “Gapo” Rodrguez , Efran “Tordo” Rodrguez and Serafn “Boli” Rodrguez – died with him.Echtler says he got to know Pollitt on several cross-country plane trips the two took together, with Pollitt or David Kunkel flying the Echtlers to various rodeos the Echtler’s son competed in.”Whether he was on the ground or in a plane, he had a calmness, a self-assurance to him. He was a terrific guy,” says Echtler.Pollitt, who had worked for nearly a decade at Kunkel’s firm, Eagle Computer Systems, and as the firm’s pilot for nine years, was a fixture in downtown Eagle.”He was the kind of customer you like to have,” says Chris Darrohn, co-owner of the Broadway Bar & Grill in Eagle.”Jim was a friendly face you see every day; he’s going to be missed,” said Mary Lou Gerard, owner of the Strawberry Patch.Pollitt’s death also hit hard at the Vail Valley Jet Center, where he spent a lot of time.”On slow days, we’d take dog treats out back (for Jazz, Pollitt’s big Airedale terrier) and we’d play fetch with her,” says Lindsey Lucas, a former employee of the jet center employee. “He was always happy to give people rides. He was never too busy for anybody.”The love of flight was central to Pollitt’s life.”He shared his wonderment of flying with everyone he could, and he taught many people how to fly,” says his sister, Nancie Araki. “Jim lived life big and loved what the world had to offer. He loved his family and friends and treated them all with grand generosity.”That generosity of spirit was part of what attracted Deb Parker to Pollitt. She and Pollitt had lived together for more than five years.”He was a fine person,” says Parker. “He loved flying and sailing, and had a deep sense of adventure. I loved the combination of his masculinity and tenderness. … I will miss everything about him.”Pollitt was born May 20, 1951, in St. Petersburg, Fla. He grew up in the St. Petersburg area and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1969. As a young adult, he trained for his private pilot’s license with instructor Jim Kaylor, flying from Albert Whitted Field.Pollitt earned his single-engine private pilot’s license in 1977, and over the next several years earned instrument and multi-engine commercial certifications.Pollitt, who came to the Eagle Valley in the early 1980s, is survived by his parents; his companion, Deb Parker, and her dog, Jazz; sister Patricia Pollitt Richards and her husband, Ron, of Tabernash; sister Nancie Araki, her husband, Matt, daughter Michico and son Dillon, all of Conifer; and his aunt and uncle, Mary and Dick Smith.Pollitt memorial SaturdayA memorial service for Pollitt will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the old commercial passenger terminal at the Vail Valley Jet Center. A celebration of his life will follow at the Pavilion at Brush Creek Park in Eagle.

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