Pilot loved adventure, his father remembers

Moss did not grow under Jeffrey Zajicek's feet. As a matter of fact, what he preferred most underfoot were clouds.

"Jeff was living his dream as a pilot and an outdoorsman," said his father, David Zajicek, on Thursday.

Tuesday, Jeffrey Zajicek flew out of the Minden-Tahoe Airport for the last time. Somewhere, somehow, over a ranch in Woodfords, the 39-year-old Carson City man's Citabria two-seater airplane fell from the sky. Zajicek, an accomplished pilot, did not survive the wreck.

Born on June 25, 1965, at Scott Air Force Base to David and Judy Zajicek, Jeff may have been bitten by the flight bug while watching the C-130 cargo planes flying in and out of the Illinois base, his mother, Judy Fairchild, said.

He began flying in high school in Chicago and got his license just before entering college in Wisconsin.

At college Jeff discovered his love of nature.

"That's when he fell in love even more so with the outdoors," his father said.

Skiing, hiking and flying consumed his off-time while he studied for his degree in psychology.

"He loved flying the mountains, flying the valleys, he could put that plane down anywhere," David said.

Jeff lived for adventure. It was that adventuresome spirit that took him to Alaska some 13 years ago. There he became a bush pilot ferrying hunters and fisherman in and out of isolated locations. He'd set his plane down on water or snow, didn't matter much what it was, his mother said.

And there, said David, his son met his "all-around outdoor girl."

Cathy and Jeff have been inseparable for 10 years. Three years ago they moved to Nevada. In 2002 the couple wed in Lake Tahoe and bought a home in northeast Carson City.

Jeff took a job as a pilot with PanTechnitron Ltd. in Minden. Cathy works at Glen Eagles. Together they were raising her daughters Annaleigha and Megan. Ursa, a stray pup Jeff found on his way to Alaska over a decade ago, kept watch over the clan.

For the tall, blonde Jeff, life was fairly perfect, his father said.

"He was living the life he wanted to live."

His family isn't sure what to say about their beloved husband, son, brother, stepfather. There is so much to say.

He was kind, made friends quickly, devoted to his family, adored his dog.

"He shared a his love of life and nature with me and his dad," Judy said. She'll miss most the "adventures, we had together."

"This won't be like a letter of things we never said to our son, because we always said them to him," David said swallowing tears. Through his son's free spirit and adventures, this father admits he lived vicariously. "He was kind and gentle, but a rugged confident outdoorsman."

Sunday, in a private memorial at their home, the family will say good-bye to the man with blue-green eyes, "as clear as Lake Tahoe on a sunny day," his bride said.

Jeffrey David Zajicek is survived by his wife, stepdaughters, mother and father, stepmother Lucrezia Zajicek, brother David Zajicek, sister and brother-in-law Jill Anne and Grover Wickersham, stepbrother and wife Tom and Teresa O'Brien, in-laws Robert and Barbara Krevitz, sister-in-law and husband Karen and Tom Ball, nieces Lindsay Anne Wickersham and Mary Margaret O'Brien, uncle and aunt Rick and Debbie Zajicek, grandfather Norman Bailey, and his dog Ursa.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.


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