I sat across the table from the person sitting across the table from me. There were about 8 of us in this small, quirky establishment. I didn’t know the couple facing me, we’d just been introduced. After a few moments, word got out that I am a pilot. Hey, I’m cool with that! I love talking about flying.
Uh oh, but we have a safety conscious person here. Squinting into the dimly lighted space between us, the lady asked, “why do you do that, isn’t that dangerous — that sounds dangerous?” I love “why” questions! I love them because it’s hard to explain to the un-aviated, what the hell a Cessna 172 is, relative a Citation Ten. They’re both Cessna’s, right? But, why do you fly, I can connect that to many areas of nonflying life. This thing about safety though, there seems to be a lot of that going around lately.
The conviction to fly didn’t settle on me until my mid-30’s. I mean, learning to fly, myself; I’d always loved airplanes, deeply. In all honesty, I didn’t have the confidence to even conceptualize myself in the left seat learning to be a pilot. Anyway, life gets busy, you have mounting responsibilities — you know how that goes.
Along the way crazy notions get inside your head? You didn’t necessarily conjure them, but nonetheless, they are there. For me, that notion was, “I’m probably not smart enough to fly…,” and, “I’d probably forget something and kill myself…,” “you know how forgetful I can be,” I’d say to myself. After all, flying airplanes must require some super-human intelligence and coordination skills nearly beyond measure.
Throughout life we each go through unique stages of personal growth. At around 30 years old, I met Tara. There’s something about loving a woman that can give you “super-human” feelings that may lead to doing “super-human” like activities — like flying. But I wasn’t sure yet. Then I met Kenny, who I now consider, next to Tara, my best friend. Kenny is one of those people who makes you feel better about yourself — about life, and being around him makes you want to be better. All of this positive reinforcement put me on a different path, a journey of self-evaluation and reconditioning. We humans often respond poorly to change — “the devil you know…,” so this was no walk in the part. After the dust settled, an opportunity to have an incredible flying experience appeared. This would be the great big shove that pushed me into a new paradigm.
My primary work at the time was a morning show host at a local radio station. The Collings Foundation was coming to town with a P-51 Mustang… they would be offering the opportunity to go up in the lauded war bird. After some encouraging words from the two important people mentioned above, through the promotion of the event, I was able to fly the P-51. (You can read about that here)