August 19, 2017 is National Aviation Day. For me, it’s a reason to celebrate.
I grew up around airplanes. I remember as a very little girl, going to pick my dad up at work at Griffiss Air Force Base and him letting me sit in the Link Trainers he worked on.
From that base we moved to more Air Force bases … Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Germany … almost too many to count. The one thing that was an absolute constant in my life was the sound of airplanes. Propellers, jets … it didn’t matter what kind of plane to me. I was too young to really understand the difference between bombers, fighters and cargo planes. I knew that sound, though. It really is the sound of freedom.
Every base had an airshow in the summer. We always went to the airshow. The US Air Force Thunderbirds dazzled my sisters and me with their feats of acrobatics.
Bombers and fighters showed off in the sky. The idea of flying was magical. My fascination with the Thunderbirds led me to an airshow a couple of years ago where I got to touch one! I met a Thunderbird pilot and got her (yes, HER) autograph.
I didn’t actually fly in a plane until I was in 7th grade. My dad had orders for Germany and he and mom wanted to make sure we would be able to tolerate flying since we had all experienced inner ear problems as kids. On the way home from a vacation, Dad dropped Mom, me and my sisters at the airport in Montgomery, Alabama, where we caught a short flight to Mobile. He drove down and met us when we landed. It was AMAZING! I was hooked!
We flew to Germany and back a couple of times then returned to the states. I was in high school, so I joined the Civil Air Patrol in the hopes of getting into a cockpit. It didn’t happen.
When I was in college, I enrolled in ground school.
I passed with flying colors (no pun intended) the day before the nation’s air traffic controllers went on strike. Flying lessons were no longer an option.
I enlisted in the Air Force and kept an eye out for opportunities to fly, but I was never at the controls. I managed to swing an assignment for the base paper when I was at Dover Air Force Base that landed me in the crew section of a C-5 for an extended mission.
I had a family. Kids, money, time commitments all played a role in slamming the door on my dream of flying a plane. I wrote off the dream and did what I could to travel by air just to be up there among the clouds.
Then I met Greg. A private pilot, he had let his license lapse. When I asked why, he only offered the typical excuses … not enough time, not enough money, blah, blah, blah. We made it a priority to get him back in the air. He introduced me to friends he had flown with years earlier. One even let me take the controls of the experimental aircraft he had built! I FLEW IT! Sure … it was only for a couple of minutes … but I actually FLEW IT! The dream came back to life!
We visited the nation’s largest airshow, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, three years in a row.
We check out aviation museums, local airshows and just about any aviation event we can find.
When we got married, he gave me my own pilot log book and I took my first lesson. I’m headed towards making my first solo flight, but in the meantime, Greg got re-certified. We’ve climbed into a Cessna and taken a few short trips.
We even created an aviation-themed bar in our home – complete with a replica wing for a bar and aviation nose art on the wall.
Recently, he got back into the cockpit of a Piper Arrow and the flying bug came back to life in him. We were off the ground. It’s a priority for both of us. From here – the sky’s the limit!