83-Year-Old Salem Pilot Takes One Last Flight and Donates His Plane To Save The Lives Of People Needing Organ Transplants Through MatchingDonors.com

Dec. 21, 2020

83-year-old, retired Police Captain Joe Michallyszyn spent 20 years on the Salem police force, retiring in 1983. By now, he has spent 50 years looking down on Massachusetts from his airplane. When he took his first solo flight in 1973, he was the youngest pilot flying into Beverly Airport that day. A few years later, he purchased his 1969 Cessna 150k aircraft, the plane that would carry him through New England skies for the next 40 years. At 83 years old, when he took his last flight at the beginning of 2020, he was the oldest pilot flying into Beverly Airport and is now a proud member of UFO (United Flying Octogenarians), an elite group of pilots in command over 80 years old. There are only 1,500 members around the world in this exclusive club and he is very proud to be a part of them.

When asked about his reasoning behind ending his lifelong hobby, Joe laughed and recalled a saying he heard from friends on the tarmac, “You hear about old pilots and you hear about bold pilots, but you’ll never hear of an old, bold pilot.”

In truth, he says, he didn’t think he would ever give up flying his plane. It wasn’t until he saw a sign from God that he knew it was time to stay on the ground. As an Acolyte Eucharistic Minister that delivers communion in nursing homes and hospitals, Joe’s strong faith guided him towards his decision to take one final flight and be done for good. He asked his friend Julie Kiricoples from his local church if she had ever flown in a small aircraft. When she said no, it was no question; he took her for her first ride while he took his last. On that day in early 2020, Joe Michallyszn and Julie Kiricoples had perfect flight: a flawless takeoff, effortless flying up and down the coast, and a landing so smooth they couldn’t even tell when they had touched the ground. The “perfect flight” is notoriously elusive for small aircraft pilots, he couldn’t have imagined a better way to end his journey as a pilot, and begin his journey with his now life-partner, Julie.

Back on the ground, he started looking for someone to purchase the ‘69 Cessna 150k. After a few weeks of looking for a potential buyer, he saw an advertisement by MatchingDonors.com in his local newspaper looking for donations of cars, boats, real estate, and sure enough, planes. MatchingDonors.com had listed the PSA to raise money to help people needing lifesaving organ transplants.

Twenty-two people die every day in the United States waiting for a kidney transplant, most waiting seven to nine years on the government’s deceased organ donor list. Many patients get their transplant through MatchingDonors.com within six months, or less, of signing up on this website. The team at MatchingDonors.com is working hard to make sure that doesn't happen by finding altruistic living organ donors for people needing kidney transplants.

Joe recalled a member of his church that had needed a kidney transplant to save his life; Joe decided that donating his plane would do more good than selling it. The MatchingDonors.com donation process is usually very easy: the donor will call with their donation information. MatchingDonors.com will pick it up, and resell it, giving the donor a great tax write-off. However, Joe went above and beyond even that. Instead of selling it for himself, he took the time to sell it for a lifesaving cause, MatchingDonors.com. After generously donating the plane to MatchingDonors.com, he also took initiative to help the nonprofit sell the plane by personally showing it to potential buyers for MatchingDonors.com.