George Kobelnyk (1951 - 2016)

  • "I've been thinking about Uncle George a lot today. I miss..."
    - Mia Badillo
  • "Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends."
    - Andy and Susan Rembert
  • "George was a true mentor and friend of mine. We initially..."
    - Sabrina Ford
  • "Suzy, we are so sorry to hear about George. He was a..."
    - Elizabet Sewell
  • "Suzy and family we are so sorry to learn of your loss. As..."
    - Susie and Bill Barrickman

George Kobelnyk, age 64, passed away in an airplane accident on April 20, 2016, in Chugiak, Alaska. George was born on Oct. 25, 1951, in Philadelphia, Pa. He grew up in New Jersey, graduating from high school in Conway, Ark. While pursuing a music degree he answered his call to duty by serving his country as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. After completing multiple overseas and combat tours, he made his way to Alaska, where he met his wife, Susan. They married in 1981, sharing 35 years of adventures and misadventures. Aviation was not only his career but also his passion in which he excelled. George received his B.S. in Aeronautical Science and a Masters in Aviation Management from Embry Riddle, where he later taught as a professor. He was an NTSB air safety investigator from 1982-1997, and then transferred to the FAA, "retiring" as the FSDO Manager in 2011. He logged well over 18,000 flight hours, was an FAA designated examiner, had an endless list of ratings and credentials, a crawl space full of awards and a brain full of irreplaceable knowledge and experience. He was committed to improving safety standards throughout the aviation industry and community. An unquenchable thirst for knowledge left him with an extensive list of hobbies and talents including: photography, fishing, hunting, machining, metal detecting, boating, motorcycle riding, hockey, softball, coaching various sports, teaching, remote control aircraft, ham radio enthusiast, scuba diving, home remodeling, gold mining and dredging. If you could strap an engine to it, he was behind the controls. He played the tuba, piano, accordion and guitar. Among his many creations are a hovercraft, pontoon boat, sea kayaks, ice-skating rinks, tree forts and countless projects he managed to undertake for his family and friends. This was just the tip of the iceberg. His ability to fix anything, anytime, anywhere without the required equipment earned him the nickname "MacGyver." He could do anything. If he didn't know how, he would learn fast, acting as if he had been doing it for years. He thought it was essential to know something about everything. George was a master of practical jokes, taunting his kids, grandkids, co-workers and his wife. Nieces and nephews were all fair game; he was not to be trusted with a sharpie. With any captive audience, George would tell embellished stories for hours. He was a mentor for many - never hesitating to share his knowledge, experiences and theories. George is survived by his wife, Susan Bassler Kobelnyk; four kids and their spouses, Chris and Michele Kobelnyk, Laura Kobelnyk and Pat Curley, Jackie and Eddie Demosthenes and Tyler and Torie Kobelnyk; six grandkids; and his sister, Helene Kobelnyk. A fellow aviator accurately described him as, "A man who was filled with a warm heart, a bright mind, a fun-filled spirit and one who genuinely cared for those around him." He was a great Husband, Dad, Brother and Uncle; his most cherished role was "Poppi." A Visitation and Funeral Mass will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 2016, at St. Andrew Catholic Parish, Eagle River, Alaska, with reception immediately to follow. Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. Donations can be made to the American Red Cross or St. Andrew Catholic Church.
Religious Service Information
St Andrews Catholic Church
16300 Domain Ln
Eagle River, AK 99577
(907) 694-2170
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on May 2, 2016