Your connection with the sky

How I learned to fly.

One of the things I enjoy most about being a corporate pilot is the relationship and conversations I get to enjoy with my passengers.  If there is a long enough pause in the discussion, inevitably the question comes up, "So, how did you learn to fly?"  Here is my full, non-abbreviated answer:I was one of those boys obsessed with airplanes.  I loved drawing airplanes, tracing airplane photographs, and building model airplanes.  My dad took pilot lessons before I was born and I used to love reading through his old pilot manuals and looking at his aluminum E6B wondering what kind of amazing things pilots must calculate with this contraption.

As I got older I pestered my parents for lessons but to little avail.  Simply put, we all thought it would be too expensive.  I did go on the occasional discovery flight with family friends or at our local airport but never seriously pursued lessons.

College came and like most freshman, I was an "undecided" major.  I simply couldn't find anything in the course catalog that appealed to me (no aviation courses).  I couldn't stand the thought of sitting at a desk my whole life and really struggled with what I was going to do with myself.

Spring break of my freshman year came and I went on a mission trip to Ecuador.  I was the college chaperon for a group of high school students from Mansfield, Ohio.  We traveled deep, deep, deep into the Amazon rainforest where a group of Huaorani Indians had invited us along with our leader, Steve Saint (whose father had been speared to death by the Huaorani).  The purpose of our trip was to help raise support for the Huaorani to purchase their own airplane and bring light to the Huaorani's incredible story.  To travel to their village we had to utilize aircraft (piloted expertly by the Mission Aviation Fellowship) and take rudimentary canoes several hours downstream to their village.  The journey and visit with these people was amazing.  It was a life changing experience and eventually the Huaorani did get their own plane (you can watch the movie "End of the Spear" for more information on this incredible story)

On the way out of the jungle, I sat in the right seat of that airplane, thinking to myself, "This is cool.  This is is real flying! This pilot gets to fly airplanes, work outdoors,  and make a difference in people's lives. Wow. " I was sold.  I had to become a pilot.

As soon as I got back to the States, I started investigating flight schools full time.  I made a simple determination that nothing was going to stop me from becoming a pilot.  As I Iearned more about aviation and flying, I discovered that there were many ways to become a pilot with many different career choices once you got your certificates (some of which I have been highlighting on this blog).

To sum the story up, I ended up picking a flight school in central Florida and through the generosity of my grandparents I got my private, instrument and multi-engine commercial certificates.  I then went back to my home town and worked on my flight instructor certificates and worked as an instructor part-time while I finished my undergraduate degree (I finally picked communications as a major).

To answer your next question, no, I'm not currently working on the mission field.  When I enrolled back into college, I met my wife, got married, started a family and well, life kind of happened.  But I'm still relatively young, and I haven't ruled out the mission field from my future.

The point to my story is this:  Make your own story.  You have always wanted to fly right?  So make that same commitment to yourself that I did while in that aircraft in Ecuador and then do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

3 Responses to “How I learned to fly.”

  1. Very nice article. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this... I'm in Columbus, Ohio, and went to college for Aviation Management (BS 2000 Eastern Michigan University), where I also obtained my private certificate (out of Ann Arbor [ARB]).

    My father was an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant mechanic) for Northwest Airlines as well as a private pilot himself. We owned and flew a Piper Tri-Pacer. He died two years after crashing the plane - he struck wires on approach to an airport in Medina, Ohio.

    After college, I took a job with NetJets (then Executive Jet) as a flight manager, where I got to work with the crews very closely, and became friends with many of them. I also worked on my instrument rating while there.

    I no longer work at NetJets - I took a job as a training manager at a transportation company (shipping - trucks, trains, and boats... NO AIRPLANES!), and I miss aviation immensely. I've gotten back in the saddle and am working on my instrument rating (again - long story).

    I've made a decision - again - to become a professional pilot. I've learned that I can't stay away for very long without feeling stressed out and wishing I was involved more directly in aviation. So if that means getting back into flight lessons while I work for a non-aviation company, fine. If it means starting my own aviation business (I also have an MBA in entrepreneurship [Franklin University 2006]), so be it. But what I've found that it truly means is that if aviation is in your blood, there's no use trying to deny it.

    There a reason that a pilot certificate never expires... once you're involved in aviation, you're never not a part of that family again.

    Namaste,
    Andrew

  3. George K.C. Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hi!

    I totally agree with both of you: Once aviation gets into you in the mildest form it is hardly possible to go through life never having done anything about it, the minimal step being getting your private pilot's license.

    I had put off learning to fly for long, but been prayerful about it wanting to go for it at just the right time. Up untill the kick off though in January 2009, I read AOPA's flight training magazine, Plane and pilot and various others that I could get to and, with excellent writers, I got to see close up what the world of flying involved.

    Although presently unclear what kind of piloting exactly I will be into, I certainly do want to bless others with hope and however else possible with a pilot's license in hand. Having said that, I bless God for people like you, who with material like the above knowingly or unknowingly send forth a message: Keep at it. You're definitely on the right heading.

    Highly encouraged, tremendously blessed,

    George

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