Savor the moment

If someone tells me they just soloed, or completed a cross-country, or finished the checkride, I’m happy for that person–and I say so. I congratulate him or her and ask for details of the event. (I really do want to hear all the gory details. It reminds me of my student days and keeps me humble.)

If someone says she just soloed, what you won’t hear me say is, “That’s great–when’s the cross-country?” Or, if she completed her checkride, “Way to go! Now on to the instrument rating.”

Whenever we achieve a goal in our flying, we need to take at least a couple moments to savor that accomplishment. From the day you walk into a flight school to schedule an introductory ride to the moment your designated pilot examiner signs your new temporary certificate, you’re on a journey that is rigorous and challenging. It will be incredibly rewarding, too–especially if we realize what we’ve achieved.

Take the solo, for example. You just flew an airplane all by yourself–something only about 628,000 other people in the United States have done. And if you’re 16 years old and soloing, consider that you’re likely flying an airplane at an age when your friends are driving a car. (On second thought, don’t remind your parents of that.)

That’s why we celebrate a solo with a cut shirt-tail. It’s why some of us still ask for a signature in the logbook at the airport on our solo cross-country–even though we’re not required to do that any more. It’s why AOPA’s MyFlightTraining website shares photos of milestones and “attaboys”. Those tangible expressions of our accomplishments bolster us and keep us going on what can seem like a very long road to the ultimate prize: our ticket.

So if you’re a student pilot, keep up the good work! Tell me about your milestones (Twitter: @jtallman1959) because I love to hear about them. Oh, and… congratulations!–Jill W. Tallman

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  • Windtee

    I agree with you, Jill. This is so true.

    As pilots, we’re naturally ambitious and goal-oriented. Some of us even seek to improve our pilot-skills with a new certificate and or rating and as a result, we’re in a state of perpetual vertical-movement.

    While we’re on the “hunt”, let us all “level-off and pull back on the throttle/s” and savor the moment for ourselves and… for others.

  • Regina Coker

    When I soloed, I parked the plane and just sat there–I was so amazed that I had just done this. It took me awhile to get out of the plane so my CFI could take my picture. Then when I got home, I just sat in my car in the garage for a long time. Later, when I got back from flying to the practice area by myself for the first time, I just sat in the flight school office and looked at my plane sitting on the ramp. Yes, these are huge milestones to me along the way, and I’m treasuring each one. Maybe my being 61 and coming back to flying after a 38-year absence makes me appreciate them so much.

  • Jim Winner

    Well said and a good lesson for life in its entirety. Sometimes we tend to move on too quickly as opposed to savoring moments. Thanks for the reminder!