Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Other Side

Sorry about the delay between posts . . . it was a busy weekend! 5.0 hours of cross-country PIC time (I do have great friends), a new haircut, and some time with my pooch, plus a nightmarish experience trying to get back here. But, needless to say, I'm back in Mankato, safe, sound, and snug.

On to other things.

Steve won't be getting a Christmas present this year. He made me fly to Oshkosh so I could get some tower work in. I admit, it was good for me, and certainly not busy, but I'm inexperienced and chicken nonetheless. So boo on Steve. But thanks to Todd who lets me fly his Luscombe and doesn't complain when I bounce it ; )

As we circuited the dark, lonely pattern time after time, I started to wonder about the man behind the instructions to make left traffic and the clearances to land. What was he like? Did he like his job? Was he having a bad day? He hadn't responded when I thanked him and told him to have a nice day, despite the fact that we were the only airplane under his control. Moreover, I wonder if he could tell how many times I bounced on several approaches . . .

Landing grades aside, my curiosity led to more pondering on the flight back home. There are plenty of people we interact with on a daily basis, perhaps even quite regularly, but do we really know them?

I thought of the FBO employee at Oshkosh who let us in to use the restrooms even though it was after hours and we weren't buying fuel. Why did he choose to work there? What were his aviation goals, if any? (Did he watch my bouncy landings??)

What about the kid that begs his parents to stop by the airport, to pull over, slow down when there is an airplane taking off? Will he ever achieve his dream of flight?

What about the other aviation students I attend class with? What do they want out of this program and this industry?

I often wonder about the state of people's lives. How did they get here, wherever "here" may be? Are they happy? Is this their dream, or just a way to pay the rent? What were they like in their younger days? What impression did they form of me in our brief encounters?

The last question is likely the most important. What effect have I had on the lives of those around me? When I say "Have a nice day," I truly mean it, but do others sense that? Does it maybe, just maybe, make them smile a bit or feel more positive? Have I made a positive imprint on some one else's life?

All this wondering brings me back to the kid at the airport fence. I want to know what will become of him, if his passion for aviation will endure and blossom or if it will wilt in the forbidding environment of today. I want to know if he will forget his dreams or push them aside without encouragement or simply because it is easier. And I want to know how I can help him aim for the stars and fly.

I guess what I'm saying is that what drives me to keep spewing out my thoughts here is the continual pursuit of ways to help others--ways to "pay it forward." I recall an instance here at school where someone said "I wish I knew all the people you knew," and "I don't know the kind of people you know." I know I was incredibly lucky to meet the people I did that helped me out so much while I was learning to fly and as I work to continue my aviation education (and outreach, hopefully). I know that it is through no skill or qualification of my own that these people stepped forward to help me. They simply extended a helping hand to someone who showed a little interest, ensuring that I wouldn't be one who lost hope or gave up on that dream.

For that reason, I want to help others. I'm more than willing to help those who show an interest, and I have a standing offer with the student who wished he knew who I knew that I'll introduce him to everyone I know or get him in touch with them. I also have standing offers that I'll gladly take anyone Cub flying who hasn't been before, even if it means I have to beg and scrap (but not steal) to do it, because I want so much for others to feel the passion that I do for the wide world of aviation. While I am eternally grateful for the help that I received, I know that I can never truly pay back the gifts that my supporters gave me. The only way to do them justice is to share what they have given me.

Remember when you were on "the other side." Remember those who mentored you and helped you along the way.

And now, live in the present. Pay it forward. Be a mentor to the aviators of tomorrow--before the faces on the other side of the fence disappear.

How will you be remembered?


  1. Very good, young lady. Keep it going, and paying it forward.
    The EAA Young Eagles program, and chapter newsletters could benefit from your efforts, and I'm forwarding your blog link to my local chapters for further disemenation.
    Best of luck in your flying career, and all you're attempting to do.

  2. Hi Flygirl -
    I loved reading your blog - it really caught at my heart. Like you, I believe in "paying it forward" We're at different ends of the age spectrum, yet we're both trying to achieve the same thing.

    I'm also a woman pilot - passionate about encouraging youngsters and oldsters to stretch their wings - if not through flying then through other means. To carry this message, I'm going to fly my 1984 Maxair Drifter ultralight-type E-LSA from my home town of Sandy, Oregon to Sun 'n Fun and back this spring. Approximately 7500 miles and 7-8 weeks round trip. Every place I stop (and there will be LOTS of stops, since I cruise at 55-60 and can only be in the air 2.5 hours) I'm hoping to encourage folks to come out to the landing spots, look over my Drifter, and talk about living their dreams.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts to your blog.


  3. Hello Arty,

    Think you might be in the Lander (LND) WY area during your long x-country?


  4. Arty-that sounds like a blast! I'd love to do something like that some day too, but for now, school keeps getting in the way ; )

    If for some reason you fancy visited the upper Midwest on your way back, stop by and say hi!

  5. Dave-excellent! I really believe chapters and local organizations are the best ways to encourage youth to be involved. Keep me posted on your efforts--hope it works out well!


  6. Hi Ken And Amy,

    I won't be coming that far north (to the upper Midwest or to Wyoming - that's another flight, in another year. I'll be putting my flight route on my blog in another week or so. The blog is about the flight, nothing else. I'm planning on logging in every evening of the trip .

    Hope you both follow along.