DENVER — An Arvada man was joined by special copilots — his sons — for his final flight before retirement after 42 years as an airline pilot.
Michael Mihalcin has flown for Frontier Airlines for the past 25 years. Three of his sons are also pilots for the company.
“They've all had an interest in aviation. And I never pushed it, but it's one of those things that’s either in your blood or it isn't. It takes a special person to live out of a suitcase,” Mihalcin said.
Mihalcin has had an incredible career that leaves him beaming when talking about it.
“Right now, I have about 35,000 hours of flying,” he told Denver7. “Landed in 17 different countries outside of America — 226 cities of those countries — and then all of America.”
Mihalcin's sons Matthew, Jonathan and Jason all started flying when the were 16 years old.
“Growing up, we would just go to the local airport — used to be called Jeffco, now it's Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport — and just take the small airplanes, go have breakfast out in Scottsbluff or Cheyenne, and just fly around, have fun building time,” Matthew said.
Michael said his sons originally chose careers in real estate and finance, but the 2008 financial crisis forced them to make a change. The sons started at another airline until they got enough experience to join their dad at Frontier Airlines.
“I'm proud of each of them,” the patriarch said.
Mihalcin started working with Frontier Airlines in 1998 when the airline just got off the ground.
“I delivered the first five airplanes for Frontier. So I've had a lot of experience with helping them develop the company when it started. And it was a great career,” he said.
When it was time for Mihalcin to hang up his wings in early October, he didn’t have to look far for his crew. Matt and Jonathan flew with their father on his final flight from Denver to Las Vegas.
“Final flight with favorite copilot and favorite captain. The other one, well his wife decided to have a baby,” Mihalcin said in a video from the cockpit on that final flight.
Also aboard the flight was Mihalcin's wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. Jason joined his family at the airport.
The plane was greeted with a water cannon salute when it pulled into Denver International Airport.
“A lot of emotions, a lot of satisfaction. What a career, a lot of pride,” Mihalcin said.
Mihalcin said he will continue flying as a hobby with a local club. One thing he is not looking forward to in retirement is going through TSA as a civilian.