So on my flight lesson today we were headed out to the designated practice area. My instructor wanted to review some skills that I was taught on my lesson earlier in the week, namely slow flight. These skills would be used later in the hour as I worked in the pattern around the airport; the focus on being how to fly the pattern and position the airplane for landing. After all, takeoff is always optional but landing is always mandatory.

On the way to the practice area I took a few moments to look around at the ground beneath us, the horizon, the weather coming in from the northwest and Oneida Lake before us. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to just look around for a few moments on my lessons because while I’m loving every moment, I’m concentrating on learning how to fly the airplane. I’m cautious but gaining confidence. And while I was doing the same today, my comfort level was at a place where I could just look around for a few seconds and enjoy the moment. I did so briefly and silently.

One of my recent realizations is that I’m learning to fly because I want to fly. No one ever suggested I should become a pilot, no one ever told me that’s what I should be doing. I’m not following in the family footsteps. While time spent in the air with my dad for almost all of my life, as well as dozens of experiences with other pilots, have certainly contributed to my desire to fly, the truth is, I’m doing this because I love it and because I came to that realization on my own. I was inspired by my dad but I found my love of flying on my own. While I’m taking in a lot of information from my flight instructor, practicing during my lessons and watching videos and studying on my off hours, I feel so amazingly relaxed when I’m in “pilot mode”. Work stress is gone. I might be worried about my performance on a lesson but overall the experience puts me in a happy place. Every time. Poor Earl, he listens to hours of my chatter about flying and how awesome the Cherokee is and how many turns I made and how I know I will do maneuver X better the next time I fly and how many times I talked on the radio during a flight. Tonight he listened to my excitement about an SUV parked on the road at the runway watching me learn landing techniques.

I will be a different pilot than my dad. He flew on small grass strips and mostly stayed in a defined radius around his home airport. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I have different goals. I’m liking the structure and mechanics of controlled airspace. Paved runways that can be used year ’round are awesome! I want to explore places I haven’t been to before. I want to fly to vacation destinations. Maybe someday I’ll share my skills with others that want to learn how to fly. I know that I want to share my enthusiasm for flight with anyone that holds a similar interest. There’s where I’m like my dad; I’ll tell you why becoming a private pilot is an exciting adventure and I’ll share my experiences with you, but you’ll find your path and become your own pilot.

Looking over the snow covered ground from 3000′ is a beautiful thing. I’m happy, grateful and thankful for everything that fueled me to get to that moment. I look forward to what lies on my path ahead.