Wednesday, September 2, 2009


It was a little hard to write those previous two posts knowing what I know.

Last year I attended the Antique Airplane Association's annual fly-in at Antique Airfield in Blakesburg, Iowa. I had the most fantastic time, and couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. I had figured it would be fun, but I got addicted to the atmosphere (and the gorgeous airplanes I got to wake up to every day). I vowed to return.

On awards night (casually referred to as the "Gone Home" Awards), I learned of an award for youngest person to fly in to the event in . . . and I started to think maybe, just maybe, I could win something . . . a pre-1956 airplane. Dammit! The Luscombe 8F I flew in was built in 1959. Next year!

Next year is this year. In 2008, I wished I could've been one of those lucky few to bring in a classic yellow Cub. I like the Luscombe, but my heart belongs to the Cub. It's just the way it is, and I can't help it. It simply wasn't in the cards for me to bring a Cub in 2008.

This year it just might be. When I went home last weekend for work, I had two students on Sunday and ended up spending the entire day at the airport (big surprise). I wanted so badly to ask Steve if I could take a Cub, solo, to Blakesburg.

I was terrified to ask, fearing I'd be overstepping my bounds, putting him in a place where he didn't want to say no in the fact of enthusiasm, but didn't really want to send the airplane out. I worried for a week, and then on Sunday, the day I figured to be my last to ask, the worries really set in. I stressed over how to ask, when to ask, second-guessing myself all along. Finally I worked up the courage to gently broach the subject, feeling every bit cowardly and rudely forward.

Steve just smiled and said, "Let's look at the schedule." Without another word, he blocked off 21Y for the whole weekend.

I felt my eyes getting warm and damp. I'm a complete sap. I admit it. But it meant so much to me to see someone giving me such a gift that I couldn't help it.

I'm one lucky kid to have people who will give me these opportunities. I realize that it's extremely rare and I always end up wondering how I got to be so damned lucky.

I haven't figured it out yet. I hope one day I can be that sort of person to others.

I don't know if Steve will ever understand how much this, the trip to Mankato, or the trip to Lock Haven mean to me. I have a feeling he has an inkling, because he gets this twinkle in his eyes when he talks about it, and I think he's remembering when people took a chance on him and believed in him. I know that I cannot adequately put the emotions into words.

My heart gets all fluttery and light when I think about being able to take this trip. The possibility of a weather cancellation exists, of course, but that's beside the point. Steve looked me in the eye and said, "I trust you" when I promised up and down to take care of his baby. That means more than any title or award that's ever been given out in the entire history of the concept of awards. It spurs me to be better at whatever I do, knowing that someone has faith in me to not only be ok, but to be awesome. I'm not sure how to do that yet, but I'm sure as hell going to try to figure it out.


--Amy, who will be having the best Labor Day ever! :D


I've since relocated to the campus mall area. Sitting outside by myself, internet radio on, observing the fountain, the twinkling lights, and the others walking around campus, I realize how much I like this isolation at times. It's not to say I'm antisocial, just that I adore my alone time.

I'm a part of something, yet on my own. It's a lot like how I feel about my airport. I feel as though I'm part of a [slightly dysfunctional] family, yet I know we're all independent, very different creatures united by a common love.

In some ways, sitting out here, part of a crowd yet entirely alone, reminds me of solo flying. I know I'm a part of something--the airplane, the aviation community, but I'm also all on my own, left to contemplate everything from my purpose in life to what I'm hungry for. It's a beautiful thing, to be alone and not lonely. I love it.

I love my friends. I love my family. But I sure do love just being me, without excuses.

Those little yellow airplanes are perfect facilitators for those emotions. They don't take excuses. They could care less what I'm wearing, who I'm friends with, what my grades are, what time it is or where we are or how hot or cold it is. They simply are.

I'm envious of that. In the rush of life, we forget to just be. We're caught up with living up to the standards of others and we neglect what we are to ourselves. You can't get through life ignoring what others think of you, but you can't thrive without being something to yourself.

Perhaps that's what I like so much about airplane people. We have an enviable ability to be things in our work lives--accountants, technicians, investors, mechanics, executives--but we have escaped identifying ourselves by what we are to others. We are pilots, and that's how we think of ourselves. Our identity is, as such, wholly our own.

I'm reminded of the 2-year-old daughter of an "airport person"--when asked what her dad did, she replied, "My daddy's a pilot." That's not his occupation but it's what he is to both her and him. How cool is that?



A week after the occurrence I'm finally getting around to writing this. Life has been crazy, but otherwise I'd get bored. C'est la vie.

I had mixed feelings about returning to school. I was definitely looking forward to seeing the awesome people that I get to call my friends, but I knew I'd experience that familiar ache that comes from leaving my favorite airport, airport people, and of course, those little yellow airplanes behind.

In some ways, it's great to be back. My friend Kim and I visited the aviation learning community (a floor of freshman aviation majors designed to start the networking process and establish a support network) to talk about some of MSU's aviation organizations. It turned into a reminiscing and teasing session with some of the familiar faces--Ryan, a fellow learning community member from last year now manages this year's LC. Matt lives in a nearby residence hall and came to visit as well. Between the four of us, I'm sure we adequately confused the new LC members by spending most of the time joking around. It felt, in some ways, like coming home.

On the other hand, I walked out of class last Wednesday (the first week of classes--now I'm back in the same class of 200 getting fidgety) to see a stunning skyscape. The clouds glowed red, striated in varying degrees of fiery colors.

Oh, to have seen that sight from the air . . .

Any given glorious day, my heart yearns and pines for those airplanes that make life so worthwhile. I have no desire to sit inside this oversized auditorium learning about computer-based information systems on a CAVU evening like this. All I want is a classic airplane with the little wheel in the back, and some alone time. It's communion time, me time, sometimes the only time in which everything just feels right. Take that away and I lose some of that spring in my step and that overly romantic side of myself that is so in love with life and all it has to hold.
I guess I'm not sure what this year will hold. I'm excited about working with MSU's Women in Aviation chapter, aviation club, flight team, and Alpha Eta Rho, but unlike most of my peers, I do far less flying here since I don't fly through the university flight school. Seeing my friends work on new ratings and accomplish so many things is awesome, but it has a negative edge as well. I get to see others doing the things I want to do so badly, but cannot because life has simply not dealt me that hand at this stage in my life.

But that's life. I'll deal. Some things go my way, some things don't. You roll with the punches and make the best of it--and some times it works out far better than you could have ever fathomed.

So here we go, and I'll make the best of whatever comes my way. On my down days, something will remind me of flying, and it never fails to make me feel as though I have secret that no one will ever know or understand. I can fly. I can escape. I can be at home above the earth. It makes me feel special, as though I've got something up on a world that some days seems determined to break me down and grind me beneath an omnipotent toe.

A friend sent me a picture a while back of a toddler she babysits grinning in an airplane ride in the mall. She said it reminded her of me because I was always smiling in the airplane.

I never even realized I did that. But it certainly is right.


On those down days, I'll just look up and remember I have a fantastic privilege that few will experience and even fewer will ever truly understand.

Very special, indeed.