Hello, I’m John King, President of Solairus Aviation. I started my professional career as a computer programmer in 1975 and would have never imagined that I would one day become President of an aviation charter and management company. As they say, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I have taken a few twists and turns on my path to Solairus and would like to take this opportunity to share my story with you.
The summer between my junior and senior year at University of San Francisco I was rooming with a friend who was in ROTC. At the time I was working a “real” job and his job was taking flying lessons. Each night at dinner he would tell me tales about how much fun he was having in the air and one night mentioned the airport where he was training was offering an introductory lesson for $9. Though I had never been in a small plane, I checked my pocket, saw I had $9, and headed down to the Oakland airport. After the instructor and I had flown around the pattern a couple of times I thought to myself, “That’s about the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” I spent that summer working nights and flying during the day. Seven weeks later I had a pilot’s license. I graduated from USF the following year, began a job programming computers, and continued flying for pleasure.
I had planned to spend the rest of my life programming computers. But after a year I decided to try my hand at sales. At age 26, after spending 4 or 5 years in computer sales, my wife and I quit our jobs and went to Europe for two months. When we returned we each started our own businesses; she opened a physical therapy practice and I launched a software company. I worked in the computer industry from 1975-2000. It was fun to watch the transition from machines that took up whole rooms to small PCs. After 20 years of building and running my software business, I had enough of computers, sold the company, and prepared to take a couple of years to explore what the next adventure would be.
In 1985 my wife, who regrets it to this day, gave me an aerobatic flying lesson as a birthday present. I had never given any thought to turning an airplane upside down, but I went out with the instructor on my birthday, did a loop and a roll, and was hooked. A couple of years later I purchased an aerobatic plane and it opened a new chapter in my aviation life. I participated in airshows and aerobatics contests; it became my version of golf or tennis.
Through no fault of my own I eventually became involved in aviation as a career, but that is a story for another post. Did you take an unlikely path to aviation, as well? I would love to hear from you. Please share your story below and keep an eye on our blog to learn more about my journey to Solairus. Thanks for reading!
Read “Meet John King, Part 2” here.