The last 8 days have been packed with so many experiences, it’s very difficult to narrow down what I’d most like to share. There are many stories crowding my brain, which have annoyingly been waking me in the middle of the night! That’s a good problem to have because it means a lot has happened. Sleep is nice too though… Being away from home is a challenge. There have been a few fires that needed to be put out via text, emails and even, (GASP!) phone conversations! You know it’s bad when you actually have to put the phone up to your ear and talk to another human. Talking on the phone is my idea of torture, but occasionally it must be done, in order to take care of business.
The following list is absolutely cut down as much as possible. This is not supposed to be a novel that would bore you to tears, just some light entertainment. In no certain order, the highlights of this past week were:
1) A New Flight Instructor. Wayne recently decided to leave a stressful job he was no longer enjoying. He has started his own flight school. It’s courageous to leave something comfortable and start something new. He’s passionate about introducing aviation to others. He’s been flying since he was a teenager. We discussed flyGIRL hope to help each other out in the future. This is exciting for me because there are females all over that country that want to learn to fly. Now, there’s someone I can work with to help make that happen. Maybe this will require more “business trips” to sunny California?? Not a terrible place to visit. :)
2) A New Flight Path. After recently attending the Women in Aviation conference, there were a few new flying traditions other women have implemented that were intriguing enough for me to adopt. One female pilot suggested renting planes or flying with an instructor on vacations, as much as possible. She’s logged more than 300 airports, all over the WORLD. This includes: Ireland, Africa, France, Japan, etc. How cool is that? Sounds like something worth doing. Locating the perfect airport was fairly easy. Simply renting a plane and taking it out for a spin isn’t super easy. Apparently, the plane owners (and their insurance companies) want to be sure you know what the hell you’re doing. There’s usually some required ground and flight review. That’s a time commitment. The other option is to basically hire the instructor for his time and he/she will accompany you as you fly the plane. Perfect! The best part is, you meet and get to fly with cool people. They’re pilots after all. Of course they’re awesome!
3) Seeing Old Friends (no implication that my friends are all old). Age is such a misleading pain in the ass. It’s all about a person’s attitude. A person can continue to grow until the Angel of Death comes for them, no matter their age! When you’re surrounded by people who have witnessed your ups and downs, it’s heart-warming. My dearest friends live all over the country. We are each others cheerleaders even though we’re quite some distance from each other or only see each other once a year. Some of the other friends I was able to catch up with are fairly new friends in aviation but we come together to share in each other’s accomplishments.
4) Making New Friends. I am not an outgoing person. The use of social media can make it seem otherwise. However, I do like to reach out. Social media has allowed cyber-relationships to form. Because of these platforms, being at a large event, like Sun ’N Fun allows for an instant connection with people that have come together for a common interest from all over the world. Having “Friends/Followers” allowed for personal introductions with people I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet otherwise. It’s very cool to have a built-in network of friends. I’m grateful for those new, personal connections.
5) Seeing Airplanes. Air shows are about as All-American and patriotic as you can get. Once surrounded by aviation history, there’s a renewed sense of pride in being an American. America is the birthplace of aviation: Orville and Wilbur Wright. Witnessing some of the oldest aircraft in existence along with the newest, most technologically advanced aircraft, reminds me of the brain power, personal risk and technological advancements American’s have made. Together. We come together to create for the betterment of American life and to protect others all over the world from abuse of power that causes human suffering. The fascination with airplanes isn’t just about the aircraft itself, it’s about everything that went into creating that aircraft and the reasoning behind its development. On top of that, we continue to push ourselves to improve our power and might. Not for the purpose of dominating others, but for the purpose of protecting the rights of humans.
6) Becoming A Teacher (although, I’m no expert)! A friend of mine came down from Cincinnati to join me at the Sun ’N Fun fly-in/airshow. After his arrival, he informed me that he had never been to an air show. Are you serious? This man is in his 40’s, for crying out loud! This is a travesty, to which I asked “What have you been doing?” His life has revolved around sports. We spent two full days exploring this vast airplane display and watching the performers. Being an official tour guide became my mission, providing history on planes and some basic flying fundamentals. It was so fun to share! He was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about aviation. Hopefully, he will introduce his family to this awesome world!
7) Forming New Goals. My bucket list has grown over the past week. Is that good or bad? Hearing people share their experiences simply makes me want to be better and continue to challenge myself. Being constantly inspired and looking forward to the future helps me enjoy and appreciate all that life has to offer. Life is more fun when your bucket list keeps growing! How exciting to have new things to accomplish! Many pilots have a “bucket list” they are constantly working on or adding to: scheduling check rides, earning more type ratings, flying to a new and different airport or country. There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than looking forward to a new chapter or a new experience.
8) Noting Appreciation. OK. This section isn’t highly philosophical. It is not intended as a “whining” section either. During this vacation, WiFi was almost non-existent. There was a cell tower down near my hotel. Therefore, cell service was almost non-existent as well. The treadmill in the gym was broken. It appeared to have been that way for quite some time by the amount of dust that had collected on it. My shower was barely a trickle of cool water. Never warm. Every night created a crick in my neck because of the cardboard pillows provided. There was no hotel room service (this part is a bit whiny, I admit)! This made me appreciate the comforts of home. Everything as it should be.
9) Lightning Up: Having New Experiences. Almost every trip taken, includes something to learn. This was no exception. I flew on a B-17! Being interviewed about flyGIRL a number of times, taught me a few things about myself. Talking about things I’m passionate about is fun and easy. Apparently, a southern accent never disappears either. At the recommendation of others, personal flyGIRL videos needed to be made during the air show. Being filmed by a videographer is new to me. It felt rather silly at first; people are walking by, watching me…By the end, I was ready to hire an agent and seeking my first film contract with Paramount! Hahahaha! It was fun! Maybe it was a little silly. So what? What’s wrong with being silly?!?! For all we know, I could be dead tomorrow. I want to have fun while I’m still alive!
10) Experiencing Genuine Interest From Others. After speaking with many people, old friends and new friends, it became apparent that most were genuinely interested in my new, personal pursuits and business. Most wanted to know more about flyGIRL and my mission for inspiring others to pursue their dreams. There were many offers of advice and support, to which I’m grateful. There wasn’t a single negative comment or word of discouragement. Not a single one! Building others up is a trait the general aviation community demonstrates very well.
So, there you have it. My Top Ten. Amazingly, I could easily come up with more, even despite some of the inconveniences of hotel living. Most importantly, let me encourage my enormous fan base (that’s sarcasm) to look for an environment where you can experience something new, teach someone something and be appreciative of what surrounds you. Of course, if you know me, it’s my belief, that travel is the best way to learn about the world and yourself. That’s why I love it so much! If you step out of the routine, you become more aware of what’s going on around you. The end of a trip will always arrive. Soak up as many experiences as possible while you can! What does the next trip have in store for me? I can hardly wait to find out. At this moment, on the plane ride home, the thought of clean clothes puts a huge smile on my face.