any pilot. They all remember their
first solo flight. Mine was a
disappointment. A total non-event.
The instructors had taught me well.
Well enough to feel absolute confidence
in my ability to fly that airplane.
I feel robbed of the feelings, the
exhilaration so many pilots recall.
It was just like any other flight. The
ritual at many schools now is a bucket of
water dumped on a fledgling pilots head.
Back in the early 70s, I attended a
school that didnt do that.
It was at a little flying service in Prince
George, British Columbia, and early in
1973 when they let me take off alone.
A few months later there was a brand new
private license in my hip pocket. I
was young, free and somehow had enough
money to pay the $745 it cost to pay for
the training. I was also early in a
broadcasting career, working for the last
television station in the country (so I
was told) to be broadcasting a black
& white signal. Thats a
long time ago!
others who always knew they wanted to
fly, somewhere along the way the seed was
planted in my head that I needed to do it
too. I set my sights on becoming a
commercial pilot, and perhaps someday
flying the orange 737s that CP Air
was using at the time. But the
obstacles quickly became apparent. The
biggest was the reality of logging 250
hours to qualify for the commercial
license. How could a guy earning a
disc jockeys salary afford it when
the rental cost of the plane was $17 an
like many others with the dream, I came
back down to earth. It was back to
the job, to life as it was supposed to
be. We all kept our feet anchored
to the ground, paid the mortgage, bought
food, a car and got on with life. Some
married, raised families, and survived
somehow without flying. The time
came eventually when all those things
were out of the way, and it was right to
get back to flying. Pick up where
we left off back when the dream was real.
It never dies, it just gets temporarily
deleted by the reality of life. The
spark smolders on.
memories come back each time I get an
e-mail from someone who writes with his
story. Theyre so similar, I
could have written them all and mailed
them to myself. Some guys are still
dreaming, hoping to someday find the time
and money to fly again. Some have
done it, now that the important things in
life are out of the way. After
many years of my mundane
life, an opportunity came up for a
partnership in a Cessna 150. It was
the right time. I happened to be
there in the right place. Following
all thats necessary, I soon had my
medical back, a ground school done, and a
check ride complete. It was finally
time to get down and train for the
age 48, I finished what I started in my
early 20s. By then, the end
of a paramedic career was in sight, and
the resumes were going out to air
operators across the north. Initially,
no one wanted to hire me, an old pilot
with low time, but there were other ways
to fly. Owning an aircraft or two
was a good thing. And living close
to a couple of glider and parachute
operations made it possible to fly on a
part-time basis. The pay was
rotten, but the time all went into my
logbook. It was the hours I needed,
not the cash.
soon I landed a bush flying job, seasonal
work, which I preferred. Now each
summer I seek out something where someone
needs a temporary pilot for a few months.
Over the years, flying never became
a real job. Too many pilots end up
wishing they were on the ground. Too
much of anything can turn you off what
youre doing. Flying should
not become something you want to stop. We
all know pilots who have hobbies like
sailing, woodworking, restoring old cars,
things that normal people do for a living
and whose hobby is flying. Strange,
that we all want something different, and
that those who have it will always be
envied by those that dont
whatever it is.
this sounds like you, dont think
youre alone. Dont think
your life, your dream, is different from
everyone else. In that regard, you
are not unique. Your choices are:
go back to flying, or forget it.
For those who dont have the choice
because of a medical issue, you have my
sympathy. If flying an airplane is
on your list of things to do before you
die, go out and find a way. Befriend
a pilot. Pay him for the fuel, pay
for the rental, whatever it takes. You
wouldnt want to be checking out at
the end of your life still wishing for a
dream come true.