I walked with the National Gay Pilots Association in the Chicago Pride Parade again this year. It is a magnificent feeling, hearing all that cheering and celebration as one walks and waves their way down the parade route, simply being who they are.
Mother Nature came barreling in when we were making our way through the crowds and the parade came to an early end due to lightning being detected in the area. I joined my fellow pilots at a Pride House Party. I was the oldest guy in the room but I still had a great time. Talking airplanes and getting to know each other a little more was an awesome feeling. I remarked that I missed a little bit of the aviation energy I felt back when I was flying out of KRME; there are so many places I want to take my aviation career (even though I was the oldest guy in the room), and participating with the NGPA today gave me the energy boost I was seeking.
I was talking with one of the newer members who is working on her CFI or Certified Flight Instructor rating. One of the examiners she flew with remarked that he thought women didn’t make good pilots. Some of the best pilots I know are women. I wonder how many pilots don’t think gay men make good pilots. They’d be wrong about that too.
So I’m thinking of starting to make flight videos again. I love sharing my enthusiasm of aviation in any way possible, and since I’m actively learning new skills as a pilot this year, it might be fun to share the experience through video again.
I’ve spent the past two hours building a new version of my “Intro Sequence”. There’s a little bit of old and a little bit of new in this clip, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.
Final Cut Pro X has some bugs in it, though. You have to cajole the application to add simple transitions at random times. I don’t know why that remains a difficulty in video editing software in 2019.
It’s amazing how much move improves every time I fly. I feel like more aviation opportunities are now available to me since our move to Chicago nearly two years ago. This is really making my mood much better.
One of the most important elements of my flight training was inspiration. Now, back in 2013, when I went for my initial flight training I was pretty inspired. I had been flying in airplanes since age four, as both my grandfather and father were private pilots. I grew up knowing I wanted to fly but I didn’t really have the resources to do it until I was in my mid 40s. It was after both of the pilots in the family had passed, and right after a very fun flight on a Delta flight from MSP to SYR (we did two go-arounds due to windy conditions), that I made the call to the local flight school to start my flight training. I had my Private Pilot’s Certificate at the year mark with just over 62 hours of flight time.
A main element in keeping focused and committed to that goal was my flight instructor. From the initial discovery flight with Chuck in the Cherokee 140 I knew that I would be comfortable learning how to fly with this guy. He kept me on my toes, challenged me, learned my pacing, and quickly figured out my idiosyncrasies. Plus, he put up with the GoPro in the cockpit.
Chuck and I continued to fly as friends and safety pilots for one another after I passed my check ride and we worked on my instrument training together. We also the round-trip to Oshkosh two years in a row. Since moving to Chicago back in 2017, I have to admit that one of the biggest things I miss about Upstate New York is flying with Chuck and my other flying buddies at KRME.
Being a private pilot while living in the city of Chicago comes with some other challenges. First of all, it’s not like I can rent an airplane at O’Hare and take off amongst the 747s, A380s, MD-80s, and the like. I need to get out of the city limits and up to either KPWK Chicago Executive or KUGN Waukegan National. For either airports it can be anywhere from 45 to 105 minutes, depending on the time of day, and the traffic on the expressways. If the gapers are slowing down for no reason on the Kennedy or Edens, the drive in itself can be exhausting. But after a too-long hiatus at the end of last year, I have been making the regular drive to KUGN to work on getting checked out in the DA-40, and knocking rust off my aviator skills along the way.
One of there resources that I need to remember to use is flight videos available online. I also attend as many safety seminars and other flying club presentations as my schedule allows. Balancing a software developer career, expressway traffic, family obligations, and flight time can be tricky. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. But then I do “aviation things” for a few days in a row and I feel like I’m back in the groove.
This evening I attended a safety seminar hosted by the Chicago Executive Pilots Association out near Chicago Executive Airport. I’m a member of CEPA and I appreciate the organizations like this are available. Tonight the presentation was given by Jason Schappert, the pilot behind MZeroA.com. Jason has an infectious way of presenting aviation and tonight’s seminar was no exception. He has a solid 21st century approach to his presentational style that still feels very comfortable, even to the older pilots in the audience. I had the opportunity to meet him in person at Oshkosh last year.
Tonight we answered questions around various aviation scenarios using a web browser on our mobile devices. He could see answers from the crowd in real time up on a big screen. The marrying of technology to decades old aviation scenarios was engaging and inspiring. I’m thinking of attending one of his aviation seminars later this year.
The most important element of my aviation career is education. I never want to become complacent. I want to keep learning, try new airplanes, and earn more certifications.
And nights like tonight certainly keep me inspired.
As a private pilot it’s important to fly often. It had been three weeks since my last flight and it took me a couple of trips around the pattern to get my wits together this evening. By the end of the night I felt like I finally had a handle on how to land the Diamond DA40. I’m looking forward to flying again on Saturday to finish up my checkout process.
Then I’ll have to fly often to keep my skills sharp.
Flying gives me such joy, even when I’m knocking rust off my skill set. I just need to keep it up and not let too much grass grow under my landing gear.
I went to the airport tonight for a monthly safety briefing with the flying club. We spent the evening reviewing what to do in the event of an in-flight emergency. It was a good review of the basics and it’s always interesting to discuss with other pilots various approaches to dealing with non-standard events while flying an airplane. I learn a lot just by talking with other pilots. No matter how many certifications I earn during my aviation career, I will always be a student pilot because one should never stop learning.
As I was visiting with my fellow pilots, I couldn’t help but think about how “avgry”, or “angry due to lack of aviation”, I have been for the past couple of months. I’ve been super surly and didn’t even realize the depths that I was feeling this way.
I’m scheduled to fly this weekend and the weather is looking promising. I’m determined to earn more ratings and to get checked out on a couple of different aircraft this summer.
When I introduce myself to other pilots I tend to say, “I’m a third-generation Private Pilot. With the last name ‘Wing’, you kind of have to be.” Some will say, “oh, you’re a pilot like your Dad.” All of this is true, and while my Dad and I never flew together with me in the left seat, I’m sure he would approve of my aviator abilities.
On one hand, we are very similar pilots: Like him, I like smaller airports, I like seeing things fairly low and slow and I share his appreciation of the older GA aircraft that populate the skies. But in other ways we are somewhat opposite in our approach: I think the new technology is cool, I like low-wing (he did not), I like talking to ATC (he avoided towered airports) and while he wanted to build airplanes (and ended up building or rebuilding three of them), I have absolutely no talent nor interest in doing so. I want to continue my aviation path to CFI and maybe beyond, he was happy flying VFR in an open cockpit.
The one thing that is definitely common amongst all three generations of us Wing pilots: we have a big smile from beginning to end of each flight. In the photo of me standing next to the Archer III I’m wearing my Dad’s flight jacket. I wear it once in a while. It makes my smile even a little bit bigger. And I count my blessings for having a spouse that loves to fly with me.
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’ve made it into my late 40s relatively unscathed. I met the love of my life at a fairly young age and we have a good, albeit non-traditional, little family with Jamie. My career is going well and I enjoy my job. I get to work from home. We have a nice home.
When I rediscovered my passion for aviation a few years ago, and subsequently began the path of a pilot, I immediately knew that flying an airplane was meant to be my second love. If I was 10 or 15 years younger, I’d definitely be pursuing a new career as a pilot, or at the very least, an air traffic controller. This is not to diminish what I do as a Software Engineer. I like my job a lot. I don’t dread going to work in any way. This is the best tech gig I’ve ever had.
But it’s not flying.
One of the distractions about working from home (and I’ve mentioned this before) is that we live directly under the approach for the local airport, Griffiss International Airport (KRME). While Griffiss is not a commercial airport in that we don’t have passenger airlines coming in and out all day long, it does get quite a bit of air traffic for the repair facilities on the field. The runway at Griffiss is one of the longest in the Northeastern U.S. (it’s over two miles long) and because of this, military aircraft from the bases (Fort Drum, Stewart AFB, McGuire AFB) visit on a nearly daily basis to do their practice work up here. Long story short, we have a lot of airplanes that fly over the house every day.
As a quick aside, whenever I fly over the house in one of the club airplanes as I make my way to runway 33, I send Earl a text message that says “Beep Beep!”. If it’s at night I’ll flash the landing light at him. He responds with “Toot Toot!”.
I really like going outside to just watch the airplanes and helicopters fly over the house and I really wish I was up there flying those airplanes.
My passion really is aviation. Twenty, thirty, thirty-five years ago I would have called it a “strong interest”. Back in my pre-pilot days, Earl and I spent many afternoons sitting at the end of a runway or in an airport observation area watching airplanes do their thing. In the back of my mind I knew that I would get to fly (non-commercially) at least three, four times a year with my dad as he was a private pilot. It wasn’t until after my dad died, when I was standing in the receiving line at his calling hours, that I realized that I could not leave my feet on the ground for the rest of my life. It was then that my strong interest sparked into a full blown passion, and Earl can attest to the fact that aviation, and more specifically, flying an airplane, has taken over my life.
I am so lucky that I married the man that I did. He refuses to be a ground-based pilot’s spouse and wants to fly with me as much as he can. The man has to be a saint.
With plans to earn more ratings and further my aviation career, I’m finding that there’s no denying that I’ve become a Pilot Obsessed. I have no plans in changing my official, income-generating career, because as I said before, I like what I do.