Kamalesh “Jimi” Naik perished in an aircraft accident at Lake Harney in Seminole County, Fla., on December 8, 2017, at the age of 56. At the time of his death, he was a highly respected flight instructor at L3 Airline Academy in Sanford, Fla., with a passion for flying and for helping others to earn their wings. He will be missed by hundreds of his students, fellow flight instructors, friends, family members, and many others whose lives he touched. We will never forget his big heart and his infectious laugh.
Kamalesh Sumantrai Naik was born on September 4, 1961 in Mumbai, India, to parents Sumantrai and Chandan Naik. His brother, Ketan “Mark” Naik, was born on June 21, 1963. When Kamalesh was 10, the family emigrated to the United States and settled in the Baltimore, Maryland, area, where Sumantrai Naik was a mathematics teacher. Kamalesh, who took the American name “Jimi” in honor of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer, is a graduate of the class of 1980 at Parkville High School in Parkville, MD. In 2001, he married Karen S. Estep Beckett, whom he always referred ever after to as “my beautiful wife”.
After achieving a lifelong goal by earning his pilot’s license and graduating from the CFI program at the Delta Connection Academy in Sanford in 2003, he served as a flight instructor at the academy from 2004 until 2010. In 2012, he joined Silver Airways as a First Officer, flying routes in the U.S. and the Bahamas. In 2014, he rejoined the staff of his flight school in Sanford, so he could spend more time at home with his family.
Over the years, Jimi trained scores of pilots who went on to join commercial airlines or become flight instructors themselves. He was a devout Christian who led morning prayer sessions and inspired many others to accept Christ in their lives. In his leisure time, he enjoyed playing golf, bowling with a local league, and watching pro football – especially his home team, the Baltimore Ravens.
A devoted husband and father, Kamalesh “Jimi” Naik is survived by his beloved mother, Chandan; wife Karen Beckett Naik; daughters Kaitlyn and Kalea Beckett; brother Mark, his wife, Amy Naik and their children, Emma and Ketan.
The Funeral and Celebration of Life for Kamalesh S. Naik will be held on Monday, December 18, at 10 a.m. at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Christian Research Institute, equip.org; Northland Church, northlandchurch.net, or the charity of your choice.