As a career airline pilot, Craig Kodera imbues within each of his paintings an intimate knowledge of how it feels to fly and what the scenery looks like when viewed from the cockpit. “I paint what I see,” he says, “and my office window is at 35,000 feet.”

An appreciation of aviation came easy. Kodera was raised in what he terms an “aviation family,” which included an uncle who flew with the famous Doolittle Raiders during World War II. At an age when most teens were trying to ace the driver’s test, Kodera had earned his private pilot’s license.

A love of painting also came early. Kodera started seriously studying it at fourteen. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in mass communications and spent a year as a commercial artist before joining the Air Force Reserve, where he was assigned to the Air Rescue Service and then the Strategic Air Command. There his knowledge of air war history grew while he logged thousands of hours flying.

Eventually Kodera left the service and joined American Airlines. When he isn’t flying, he’s usually painting. His artwork is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum permanent collection and hangs in many museums. He is also the charter vice president of the American Society of Aviation Artists, a member of the Air Force Art Program and serves with the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators.

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