It’s rare that a week goes by that I don’t get an inquiry from someone, somewhere, about their desire to become a pilot. Or if not a pilot, to find some role in general aviation as a real participant.
Aviation is an attractive business. One might go so far as to say it’s sexy. At the very least it’s alluring on a level that eludes fast-food and retail-sales job openings.
Often the question posed relates to time. For the career minded, they wonder if they have enough time to get into aviation and make it work for them? For the hobbyist, they concern themselves with the amount of time they’ll have to dedicate to study, flight lessons, solo flights, and testing.
It’s a valid question in both cases. I have an answer, too. Although it’s probably not the answer you, or they, expect.
If you’re worried you might not have enough time to reach your goal, you’re right. You might not.
I have no idea how long you’ll live, or how vibrantly you’ll conduct your life, or how many constraints you’ve built into the life you live now.
I only know this: You have a desire to enrich your life by getting involved in aviation in some way.
So the question isn’t really whether you’ve got the time to achieve your aeronautical goals. The real question is: Will you allot the time and effort necessary to live the life you want to live?
There is a train of thought that says we should plan our lives meticulously. That we should evaluate the return on investment (ROI) on everything we do or don’t do. Should we buy that house or rent one? Is it better to purchase a new car or a used model, or would we be better off leasing one? Is a motorcycle a useful tool or a toy that consistently loses value over the term of its useful life?
You can place the desire to learn to fly solidly in this list of questions. What’s the payoff? Where is the ROI? Why would I devote that much money, time, and effort to pursue a goal that might end up being nothing more than a diversion from my day-to-day existence?
Well, simply put, you should learn to fly, and continue to fly, because your life will be more colorful, richer, more satisfying, and enjoyable. You will become a better, more capable person who is living a life that is authentically yours. And you just might climb high enough up the certification ladder that you can ply your aeronautical skills on the job market.
What’s that worth to you?
I have yet to meet anyone, ever, who exclaimed with relief, “I sure am glad I didn’t take that sailboat to Bermuda when I was young.” Go ahead and substitute “airplane, glider, motorcycle, or job opportunity” for “sailboat” and insert “Catalina Island, Colorado, Alaska, or New York City” for “Bermuda” and see if that sentence makes any more sense. It doesn’t. The sentiment behind it is all too common, however.
We humans have a remarkable propensity for short-circuiting our dreams and replacing them with a pedestrian option that neither inspires or fulfills us — and then we spend the bulk of our lifetime trying to convince ourselves that the path we chose was the only really sensible option.
Hogwash, hooey, and balderdash. That’s just plain nuts.
You should live the life you want to live, because as we’ve already established earlier, the clock is ticking and neither you, or I, or anyone else has the slightest idea when your time will run out. So use it wisely.
The choice couldn’t be simpler – live the life you’ve dreamed of or lose the chance. There is no third option.
Later this week I’ll be taking a friend flying. His name is Joel and he’s asked for a flight in the Air Cam. In fact, he’s been asking for months, ever since I first acquired it. Throughout its time in the maintenance shop getting some important kit upgrades and having a short list of squawks dealt with, my friend has been asking to go flying in what is no doubt the weirdest airplane he’s ever seen.
“Since the first time I saw a picture of it, I knew I wanted to go for a ride,” chuckled Joel. He said that just this morning. He’s motivated.
It’s probably worth mentioning that Joel is 87 years old. He’s not a pilot, but he flies as often as he can and has done so for several decades. Joel includes aviation in his life to the extent he is able, and his life is eminently better for it.
He makes no excuses. He simply lives up to his potential and enjoys every minute to the best of his ability. I can’t fault him for that. In fact, I try to follow in his footsteps. Maybe that’s why we’re friends.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he’s so adamant about touring the neighborhood in an experimental twin-engine airplane that’s only going to deliver him back to the very spot he departed from.
He’s focused on the experience of life, not the utility of the specific tool of the day.
As I consider all this, I have to wonder perhaps the pertinent question doesn’t have all that much to do with time after all. Maybe it has more to do with drive. Ambition. Enthusiasm. An eagerness to really, truly, fully live.
Don’t let your clock run out while you’re standing on the sidelines. Get started. Get started right now. Use whatever time you have to be the best you you can possibly be.
And if that means learning to fly, then learn to fly. This is your chance. Unlike the municipal bus, there won’t be another one coming by later.