I’m not a Mom. But I have a Mom. And my wife is a Mom.
So I know there is – oftentimes – a special bond between a mother and child. I certainly feel that bond with my Mom.
Go ahead, call me a “Mama’s Boy.” I can take. In fact, that’s a badge I wear with pride.
I learned to fly at a rather young age. At 13 I flew an ultralight my Dad and I built. Then again, I grew up on a residential airpark, so flying seemed the most natural thing in the world to me.
Years later I learned Mom wasn’t excited by the idea of me, her 13-year-old baby, flying by himself. I suppose the idea goes against a Mom’s innate desire to protect.
Once past those first solo flights, Mom’s emotions relaxed a bit. She saw my care and attention to detail. That is when the emotional see-saw inside her heart stopped. She became a full-on supporter of my flight training.
And as anyone who has flown against a strong headwind knows, it is much more pleasant to fly with a tailwind. Mom was exactly that, my tailwind.
But that’s a bit of the story from my path. And I know my path is unique to me.
When anyone signs up for our email newsletter – The Pulse of Aviation – they receive a welcome email from me that also says, “I’d like to hear about why you fly or maintain airplanes or teach pilots or are simply interested in aviation.”
In a typical week, I receive a few responses. Some are funny. Others are inspiring. Many just express excitement about reading about aviation.
In their own way, they each offer proof there is no one path to finding aviation. But a couple of recent replies shared a common theme.
One recent response was from a student pilot’s mom. She writes, “my son is attending TSU, which has a professional pilot program. He starts flying next week! As he is invested to learn all about aviation, I have found myself as well learning all about flying.”
That is one supportive Mom. And I told her so.
“Good for you Jennifer… and your son. As I think back on my time at the University of North Dakota back in the late 1980s (where I originally planned to become a professional pilot) I so wish the marketplace were as robust then as it is today. Your son’s timing (thanks to you) is perfect.”
Jennifer’s son confirmed as much: “My son Cameron stated today about the need for pilots. I’m super excited for him. And will do anything to make sure he gets to the finish line. Even if it means discussing critical angle of attack — a million times!”
That last line made me laugh out loud.
Another reply came from Colton. He’s a commercial helicopter pilot in Miami, Florida.
“I started flying about 10 years ago when I was 18 (started right out of high school).”
He’d heard stories and seen pictures of his great grandfather as a B-17 pilot in World War II as well as his step grandfather “who flew planes and gliders,” but he was never able to speak with either of them about flying.
“Learning all the resources for pilots and pilot culture has been self taught,” noted Colton. “I am constantly looking for new resources to teach me and help me become a better pilot.”
Which is why he signed up for The Pulse of Aviation.
“I became a pilot because of my mother,” he added. “She saw a billboard for a $99 discovery helicopter ride and signed me up for it. I actually went in with an attitude that I wouldn’t become a pilot.”
That must’ve been one heck of a discovery flight.
Like many pilots, Colton’s path took a turn.
“I started flying tours because I ran out of financing to get my CFI/CFII and found a way to get a job and work my way up,” he related.
But Colton is a man with a plan: “I plan to someday obtain my fixed wing certificate and A&P. I now have a huge passion for aviation and want to learn as much as I can and become the best aviator I can. I strive to mentor young pilots like myself who struggle and help those not in aviation to glimpse how amazing it is.”
While Jennifer and I didn’t discuss HOW her son came to flying, she is — obviously — supporting him. In the case of Colton, it was his Mom who helped him “discover” aviation.
If you think back to your start in flying, maybe it was your Mom, perhaps it was your Dad. Or maybe it was a more distant family member or not a family member at all.
Regardless, your path to aviation criss-crosses the paths of many other people. Many are pilots, while others merely offer a nice tailwind. In either case, those relationships are to be treasured.