Monday, December 1, 2003

The Centennial


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.


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, 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.