Why I Fly

From my earliest days, I wanted to fly.

As a youngster, I was fortunate to fly commercially before airliners became nothing more than airborne buses and coats and ties were de rigueur. ClipperFlights in Lockheed Electras, Convair 440s, Boeing 707s and DC-8s had me glued to the window as the earth fell away during takeoff. Back then, cockpit tours for kids were a must, and the stewardesses (as they were called then) ALWAYS had wing pins for their young passengers.

Balsa wood, tissue paper and dope models followed, as did subscriptions to every flying magazine I could get my hands on. Dad took me to airshows at Pt. Magu where I saw the incomparable Bob Hoover in his Aero Commander Shrike perform a complete aerobatic routine with both engines silent.

My best friend’s grandfather took us up for a ride in a Piper Tri-Pacer out of Van Nuys airport and later a Piper Apache; his dad took us up in a Cessna 310 … the stage was set.

But priorities changed.  Sailing, then cars and girls in high school, more sailing in college and a first marriage kept my aviation dreams at bay. But then in 1993, the planets aligned and an opportunity presented itself that was simply too good to pass up … a close friend had an opportunity to buy an old Cessna 150 for $9,000 – a bargain! – did I want in?  Absolutely!  Another friend had just received his Certified Flight Instructor certificate and would train me in exchange for the flight time.  Deals were made, checks written and the airplane was ours.N5749E

My logbook tells the story.  My first lesson was on April 6, 1993 in a Cessna 172 when we went to pick up the plane.  Mike flew it back. I soloed just three months later with only 18 hours logged!  I passed my private pilot checkride on March 21, 1994.  Bigger and faster airplanes followed and in December 2001, I passed the checkride for my Instrument Rating.

It all stopped in 2003.  I moved east and when the promise of a new job failed to materialize the finances to fly just weren’t there, and then life ensued.  The dream faded but never went away.  A new, but short-lived job with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association threw new sparks on the fire, but my then-wife wasn’t a flyer … it wasn’t a priority.

Fast forward to 2012 when the woman of my dreams enters my life … and she wants to fly!  Judy not only supported my dreams, but wanted her dreams of flight to be realized.  For a wedding present, I got her a logbook of her own and an introductory lesson.  On a cold day in January, I watched her take off for the first time at the controls.  Later that summer, I, too, was back in an airplane with a new medical certificate in hand and an instructor putting me through the flight review paces.  It took a few flights – I was definitely rusty, but it all came back and my instructor signed me off.  I was back in the air!Checklist

A week ago, I was again signed off by an instructor to fly one of my favorite airplanes, a Piper Arrow, and later this year, I hope to regain my Instrument Rating currency. In the meantime, Judy and I are planning many flights together.J&G Flying

Today is National Aviation Day…a day to celebrate why we fly and our nation’s long history of flight. I am incredibly thankful to live in a country that affords me this opportunity…but it is an opportunity that is being put at risk by Congressional legislation to privatize our Air Traffic Control system. This move will make private aviation too costly for all but the richest folks and put control of ATC in the hands of the airlines that do NOT have your interests at heart. Thousands will lose their jobs and critical infrastructure served by general aviation will be lost.

If you have ever, even once, thought about taking a flying lesson, enjoyed a scenic flight, taken a flight with a friend to another airport for a “$100 Hamburger,” I ask you to do two things:  1) Write or call your representatives in Congress and tell them to Modernize, not Privatize, our ATC system, and 2) Book a flight with an instructor TODAY and see for yourself what joy flying brings!  If you need some advice, contact me…I’m always happy to talk flying.

There’s a whole world out there, waiting to be explored…see it from the front seat!

Short Final

Celebrating National Aviation Day

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.

Airshow around 1968

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.

Touch a Thunderbird

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.

City of Dover

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.

Log Book

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.

The HangarWe 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!Sky is the Limit

Friends, lists and going with the flow

A friend recently posted a blog about her lists. She’s one of those people whose incredible organizational skills mean she not only writes lists, but remembers where they are!

I write lists, too. In fact, I write lists all the time. My problem is I stick those lists somewhere then I either can’t find them when I need them, or I forget about them altogether.  Last week, my husband and I sat down and wrote out a list of all the friends we haven’t gotten together with in awhile. We stay in touch on Facebook and at work, but we never seem to connect in person when we are off work.

We put the list on the kitchen table and promptly shuffled it from one end of the table to the other, marking off names as we made plans.

The list is already out-of-date anyway. We’ve made new friends in the last two weeks and they need to be added to the list. Oh, shoot, I also need to add the friend who writes all those lists to my list.

Tonight is the first of our in-person connections. A friend whose birthday we missed is coming for dinner with her husband. I cleaned off the table and moved the list again. It’s now in a stack of papers I need to go through. I will probably lose it or throw it away accidentally when I’m going through the papers.

The good news is, we are so social it won’t take long to connect with everyone on the list. Besides, even if I lose that list, I can always write a new one. In any case, we have a lot of fun being spontaneous – going with the flow. As I mentioned to my friend, the most important thing to remember to take anywhere is a sense of humor (add in a good healthy dose and adventure and you’ve pretty much got everything you need).

What do a Kiss and Exploring the World Have in Common?

Five years ago today I was on a trip for work. It involved a trip (by TRAIN!) to Stamford, Connecticut, a short walk to the hotel and a meet-and-greet style evening where coworkers from the northeast and mid-Atlantic would connect and spend some social time over dinner and drinks before a full-day event kicking off the next morning.

There were maybe two dozen of us chatting amiably over dinner at a nearby Italian place before wandering back to the hotel to linger in the hotel bar over wine and cocktails.

As is typical at this type of event, we talked about life and work and work and life. It was a back-and-forth conversation filled with laughter and easy banter. One-by-one, coworkers headed back to their rooms to “say goodnight to the kids” or “check in with my wife” or simply because it had been a long day.

Somewhere around 1:30 am, the bartender came over and informed Greg and I that it was last call. It wasn’t until then that we noticed we were the only two coworkers left. At that moment, we were deeply ensconced in a conversation about the tasks that needed to be accomplished “in the morning” at the jobs event we were attending. Neither of us was ready to declare the conversation over, so we tossed a coin to decide whose room we would go to so we could finish making our plans.

About an hour later, when the work planning was done, the conversation wandered to the past as we discussed the things we missed about being young.

I said, “kissing,” explaining how, as a high school student, kissing was everything. It was a time when the farthest a couple would go was maybe “second base” and the duo could spend hours just kissing. Yep, I admitted, “I miss kissing.”

Greg rose from the hotel chair and walked over to me, leaning down and kissing me. It was one of those tentative, first date kisses. There were fireworks. I saw lightning and felt the Earth move. We broke the kiss and gave each other that “uh-oh-I-wasn’t-expecting-THAT” look. We were, after all, coworkers.

It was just a kiss … but it was life altering. Nothing else happened that night, but it was enough to put into motion a series of conversations and chain of events that helped us both realize that we did have options other than staying in unhappy relationships and living sad, unfulfilling lives.

Since that day, we moved in together, got engaged, got married and regularly remind each other how important communication is to a healthy, happy, thrilling relationship. We laugh about that kiss and how we had no idea then how many dreams and hopes we had in common – and still do.

It’s been five years and thousands of kisses. Sometimes the best trips don’t involve even getting out of your chair. When we say there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, we mean so much more than travel. We mean exploring each other, people in your lives, yourself … everything. So get out there – explore! The world is calling.

Diversion – Getting to Know You

Travel is often about the people we meet on your adventures. Our brief trip to Los Angeles last week brought that home.

Here’s the setup…Judy and I are gregarious by nature; extroverted and always willing to make new friends. So naturally, we have a tendency to “talk up“ everyone we meet…especially bartenders and food servers who can make or break a good meal. We are also people who get to the airport very early. We hate being rushed and would rather spend some time in an airport restaurant than stress about the traffic or the security lines.

This story began in December when we found ourselves at Los Angeles International Airport with about two hours of wait time until boarding. It was late morning, so we sought out a place where we could get a drink and an appetizer or two.  We found ourselves sitting in a window seat at Osteria by Fabio Viviani (of “Top Chef” fame). OsteriaOur server, Araceli, was beautiful, attentive, and sweet. She appreciated our comments about her name.  The drinks (they make a to-die-for Strawberry Basil Martini) and food were fantastic – a far cry from most airport food. But it was Araceli’s service that made the stay memorable. Too soon, we had to leave and board our plan.

Fast forward two months, and we’re back at LAX with time to spare…same flight, same terminal.

So back to Osteria we went, and asked for a window seat.  We were seated in the same place as before, and wouldn’t you know it, Araceli was our server.  We joked about the irony, and she remembered us.  We chatted about her kids…and grandkids!  She told us she was 37…when during our last visit we thought she was a college student! Once again, our flight called too soon and we had to head off, telling Araceli that we’d be back in four weeks!

The lesson here…whether you know them for an hour, days, or a lifetime, the people we meet — like travel — make our lives richer. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Go see it…and take the time to get to know those around you along the way.

2017 – Trimming the Fat – A Life Reset – Getting Rid of What We Don’t Need

We’re not New Year’s Resolution makers. We’ve both done it once or twice with great results, but both Greg and I believe resolutions should be made when you’re ready to change your life – not just at the beginning of a new year.rose-bowl

2017 is no exception. We welcomed the new year without a real resolution in mind. I talked about losing weight. In fact, I’d talked about it for a couple of years. When you’re ready to commit, it just happens. Greg and I decided we both had a few pounds to lose and were ready to commit about halfway through the second week of January. We made an appointment at our local Jenny Craig office, did the initial weigh-in and started the plan.

We both felt immediately lighter. Admittedly, it was more the load off our minds than anywhere else, but it led to a few other changes…

We spent an entire day cleaning out our closet. We generated three huge bags of clothes for donation. We cleaned out the bathroom cabinets. We moved into the closet in the guest room that had become a storage place for stuff we didn’t want to think about. We tidied up everywhere! I called AMVETS and arranged for a pick-up.

It’s been less than a week and we are already lighter at home. Less stuff leaves you feeling lighter anyway. There’s more room to move. It’s easier to find your things. We’re both feeling a little exhilarated.

What’s next? Who knows? For now we are just letting this “out with the old” mentality sink in. Stay tuned.

D is for Dublin — a do-over

My first trip to Dublin was disappointing. My travel partner didn’t want to check out the pubs in a city that is known for its nightlife. He said no to a visit to the Book of Kells at Trinity College. He turned up his nose at shopping. I describe the whole trip as D is for Dud.20161203_163544

Last fall, Greg and I decided it was time to give Dublin another chance. His best friend was living there (on a work assignment) and had a guest room. We could visit Chris and his wife in their new home, get something of an insider’s tour and sleep for free. It was a win-win-win.

We exchanged emails, scheduled a few things to do and bought our tickets for the Emerald Isle.

What a difference! Dublin is fun, vibrant and exciting. We arrived mid-day on a Saturday in early December and hit the ground running. img_6757Our hosts took us to the longest, The Hole In The Wall, and oldest, The Brazen Head, pubs in Ireland (both in Dublin). We wandered along the main shopping street and window shopped from pub to pub.

We stopped at the famous Temple Bar and elbowed our way to the bar for the essential Irish pub drink, a Guinness.

20161209_143056Over the next couple of days we enjoyed tasty Irish bar food and a few classics: fish and chips, Irish stew and others.

We checked out Kilmainham Gaol which “symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23.”.

We visited Osteria Lucio, a favorite restaurants of our hosts for an incredible Italian meal with an excellent red wine. Who knew Dublin is a bit of a foodie town?

img_6792We toured the only Irish Whisky distiller still located in the Irish capital and sipped some delicious gin cocktails.

Bad news struck on Tuesday.  Our hosts grabbed a flight back to the states and we headed to Edinburgh, Scotland for a pre-arranged side trip (stay tuned for a blog about that trip). Back in Dublin, we had a couple days to explore on our own.

20161206_152758We visited the Guinness Brewery and learned how to pour a perfect stout. img_6913 img_6921 img_6924

We went to the library at Trinity College and ooo’d and aaah’d  over the history captured on the ancient volumes. We went to see the Book of Kells (but they don’t allow pictures!).

We revisited The Bank on College Green, a downtown Dublin restaurant converted from a late-1800s bank. The food and ambiance were PERFECT both times, and our server was absolutely delightful.

We wandered a little more, enjoyed the cheerful, friendly people of Ireland and took a local train to Dun Laoghaire. img_6841The Dublin suburb is home to the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. We walked out along the breakwater to the lighthouse in a light mist. It was a classic weather day – just what you expect.

After a week it was easy to admit that D is for Dud was WRONG! Dublin is “d”elightful and “d”arling.

Go see for yourself. There may not be many people who remember me, but you can still say Judy sent you.

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Go see it.