When you see that airline pilot striding through the airport, decked out in full uniform, sometimes it’s hard to believe that he or she started out a student pilot…just like you.
I was reminded of this recently when I received two emails in the same week. Both were in response to “Renter No More,” an article I wrote for the October 2011 issue of AOPA Pilot, Flight Training’s sister publication. In “Renter No More” I described the process by which I came to purchase 7301J, a 1964 Piper Cherokee 140.
I got a lot of lovely feedback from that article, mostly well wishes from other owners and questions from prospective buyers. But two messages were more appropriate for my Flight Training readers.
Christian Moersch wrote to tell me that he took flying lessons two through five in 7301J, back in the 1960s. He flew her at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Penn., where she was part of a flight school fleet. “My association with 01J launched a career that continues today,” he wrote. Christian is a Boeing 737 captain for Continental Airlines.
In yesterday’s email came this message from Ed Lavis. He soloed in 7301J on Sept. 2, 1969, also at Latrobe. (He had 9.5 hours under his belt.) He recalls telling himself, “Kid, I hope you know what you are getting into.”
Today, Ed is a 34-year pilot with USAirways. For the last four years, he has been a Boeing 767 captain on international flights, and has flown more than 25,000 hours.
As you progress through your training, take a moment now and then to let it sink in. Christian and Ed are living many a pilot’s dream, and yet they both look back fondly on their days piloting a 140-hp trainer through blue Pennsylvania skies. As for me, I have no airline aspirations. But I’m proud to know that Miss J played a part in helping Christian and Ed become the pilots that they are today.–Jill W. Tallman