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Utah flight instructor dies in Alaska plane crash

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jun 24, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's aviation community is mourning the loss of flight instructor and pilot Paul Kondrat, who died in a plane crash in Alaska last week.

"He was so personable, he made everyone feel so special so everyone that he met just loved him," said Cambrie Foster, one of Kondrat's former students.

Kondrat was born and raised in Michigan but spent his life traveling the world. His family describes him as a "lifelong learner."

He served four tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps in a seven-year span. After his time in the military, he earned both his private and commercial pilot license.

He was a flight instructor at Cornerstone Aviation, one of the few FAA-certificate flight schools in Salt Lake that's not part of a university.

"He was just the perfect example of what a flight instructor should be," said company president Martin O'Loughlin. "Willing to do anything to help a student, very articulate in finding the right words, and reaching into that teacher tool bag and coming up with just the right thing to help a student understand."

Kondrat taught at Cornerstone for only eight months until he accepted his dream job as a float plane instructor in Alaska.

He moved to The Last Frontier only a few weeks ago, before the plane he was in went down at Crescent Lake, south of Anchorage.

He died, along with U.S. Air Force Col. Mark “Tyson” Sletten.

"Usually when I hear about crashes, I can kind of predict what that outcome is going to be," said O'Loughlin. "This one is an absolute mystery because Paul was a great pilot and he was prudent. I don't know what could have gone wrong."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause. Those specifics don't matter to Foster.

"I just want to make sure Paul is remembered by his legacy," she said. "I think everyone should live like Paul did."