By Marilyn Dash
On December 17, 2003 we will celebrate the Centennial of Powered Flight. Let's think about this for a moment. In 100 years we have gone from the seaside dunes of Kitty Hawk, NC and the 12 seconds that changed the world -- to the International Space Station hovering somewhere in space. We've landed on the moon, we've made the world a smaller place by providing the opportunity for travel, and more importantly, I learned how to fly. You can see a picture of me in my plane in Figure A.FIGURE A
Flying can be fun! (click for larger image)
Forward fast 95 years
As a self-employed management consultant, there are times when business is slow. During one of these times, I made the awesome first step of my flying career. While volunteering at the newly opened Hiller Aviation Museum at my local airport (at http://www.hiller.org), Mr. Stanley Hiller (of Hiller Helicopter fame) looked me in the eye and asked me, "Why aren't you a pilot?" and I responded with a phrase that many of you have probably used 100s of times, "I'll do it Some Day!" He then said, "Today is Some Day!" I left that night and the next day, signed up for my first lesson.
Learning something new is never easy. This is especially true when you aren't a spring chicken anymore and you need to work full time to pay for the learning. Additional things hampered learning -- such as weather, mechanics, scheduling, personality conflicts and the continuous need for additional money.
It didn't take long for me to realize my passion. I was hooked from the beginning. I couldn't get enough of the physical, emotional and psychological challenges that flying presented to me. However, there were times when I became discouraged. In the 10 months it took me to earn my private pilot license, I went through four instructors and three different types of airplane. With each change, came disillusionment, delay and a whole new set of issues. Not unlike life in general -- don't you think?
So, I endured and I earned that precious license and said to myself, "Now what?" Twenty-four hours after receiving a passing grade on my exams (written, oral and practical), I purchased my first airplane. Not only was the ink not dry on my certificate, the FAA probably hadn't heard the good news yet. I was psyched! I had purchased a used Piper Cherokee that was nearly as old as I was.