Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Here's the story so far:

I owe all of this to my wife. For Christmas 2004, she gave me a gift certificate entitling me to an introductory flight at the local flight school at Watertown Municipal Airport. It was an important moment, for a several reasons. First, my mother passed away less than two months earlier, this was a significant positive emotional moment for me. Still in mourning for my mother, I now had something to look forward to. Second, this was an endorsement of sorts from my wife that she wanted me to pursue this. I had made no secret that this was a dream of mine, now she gave her approval. She still says she won't go up with me, though. I'll keep working on that.

So here we were, on a warm July day. Time to take that introductory flight. I walked to the airport (my house is just less than a mile away) and enjoyed the sights along the way. When I arrived, I met my instructor, a fellow named Adam. He gave me a few initial instructions, and we were on our way to the flightline in quick order. The plane was a Cessna 172, tail N9002E, and after some adjusting of seats and reading the pre-flight checklists, we started her up and we were taxiing to the runway. I was in the left (command) seat, but Adam had the plane for the takeoff and initial climb. Once we were at a safe maneuver altitude, Adam gave me the controls. A little background here. I have been using Microsoft Flight Simulator for more than 10 years, so I have a passing familiarity of what it takes to fly a plane. A little more background, for what it's worth. I'm actually scared of heights. But that didn't stop me from going through the Army Airborne School in 1985. As long as I know something is keeping me from hurtling to my death, I'm ok. The last time I was offered the controls of an airplane, I refused out of fear. This time, I embraced it. It was freaking cool! To finally get a sense of the feel of an airplane was a major rush. I took the plane through some simple turns over Johnson Creek, then we headed back to the airport. Adam took charge for the landing, and we were back at the apron. I swear I had a cake eating grin the whole way back from the airport.

Wow! What a thrill! I knew this was going to happen. The question was, when? Money has never been in great supply in this house; that's why I haven't already done it. So I would need to wait until the financial picture got better. And eventually, it did. My brother, the executor of my mom's modest estate, had yet to sell her house. He was unable to do so right away because the timing was all bad. But now he had a buyer. Folks here in the U.S. know how crazy the real estate market had been, and my brother and I are the only beneficiaries. Believe it or not, not only will I be able to fund my flight training, but I will also be able to finally get rid of all of my credit card debt and most of my other obligations. So now the stars are all aligned and everything is go to pursue my license. Sad, in a way, that it would take a death to make this happen, but on the other hand I know this is something my mother would have approved of. She knew this is what I wanted to do. She would have never gotten in the way of it.

So that's the prelude. Yesterday I went and spent lots of money. More about that in the next installment of Rich's Quest For Flight.


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