Moms, flying, and flying moms

Mother’s Day is coming up. I don’t know how many readers had supportive moms when they were learning to fly, but if you did, be thankful. She probably had to deal with some fear and anxiety whenever you were 5,500 feet in the air with no parachute.
Director of eMedia Alyssa Miller (left) and her mom, Pam Miller

As a parent of two teenagers, I vividly recall those days when my daughter was learning to drive. I put as much of it on my husband as I could, but eventually I had to climb into the right seat with her. I’d have to clench my hands together, else I’d be twisting my fingers into knots, and she would see that from the corner of her eye and know what I was communicating to her. When she began driving by herself, I’d curl up in my armchair and pray.

Now imagine a parent whose child is learning to operate a vehicle that not only moves in three axes, but also can’t be pulled over to the side of the road if something happens. It’s a wonder any teenager gets to take flying lessons!
Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and his mom, Wilma Melville

Those who do largely seem to come from flying families. Their moms and dads are as familiar with flying as the rest of us are with driving cars. Their parents understand the safety issues behind operating an airplane; they know about limiting risk. They know what it means when an aircraft stalls, and they recognize that little airplanes do not fall out of the sky if the engine stops. They know that pilots train for emergencies and practice for those situations a lot.

 But your mom–if she is not already a pilot or a right-seater–might not know these things. Why not teach her sometime? Tell her what you would tell anybody who is not a pilot: that flying has risks, but you are learning how to manage those risks. Tell her that accident statistics show that when you’re flying with a flight instructor, you’re much less likely to be involved in an accident. (The 2010 Nall Report will back you up.) Tell her you want to be the safest pilot that ever was.

It might not keep Mom from curling up into a ball whenever you’re in the air, but it might help her to understand a bit more about your passion for flying. And who knows, when the time comes and you have your pilot certificate, she might be willing to take a flight with you and find out for herself what all the fuss is about. And that will be a great day indeed.–Jill W. Tallman

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  • Tamara

    And if we get Moms, grandmothers, Aunts, sisters, step moms on board with flying and supportive then we will increase the students who finish their licenses or add to them even owners of airplanes. We can change the future of aviation by educating those who support those entering avaition.

  • Meganite

    I just finished getting my pilot’s license about 2 months ago, and throughout that time I had explained pretty much everything about my training to my mom. It was not only a good way for me to reinforce what I had learned, but to help allay whatever fears she may have had. It also helped me get through some hard times when I was working on my cross country flying.

    My mom has always been very encouraging, and she has always said “You can do anything as long as you do it safely,” so, I kept that in mind for my flight training too. This past Mothers’ Day, I thought the best gift to my supportive mom would be to give her a ride in the airplane! She enjoyed it very much.

  • Regina Coker

    I am a flying mom. It hasn’t been easy explaining to my family: sons, daughters, brothers, sister, and my 91-year old mother why I am a student pilot at the age of 61. I found the most understanding members of my family to be the grandchildren: 8, 6, and 3 years old. They just want me to take them flying!

  • Peri Worrell

    I have 2 children and 2 stepchildren (I’m 51). Two of the kids couldn’t wait to ride with me, and two said “no way!” Now if I could just get my husband to the point he doesn’t have to take a Xanax before riding in the right seat!

  • Sarah Smith-Dufton

    My mom was always so nervous about whatever I did, especially learning to drive. So you can imagine my surprise when she showed no fear about my flying. In fact, she fell asleep on her first flight with me as a newly minted pilot in a C152. Later on I took her up in a turbine helicopter right after I earned my commercial rotorcraft license.