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Courage to Fly

It is truly a blessing to be able to fly and get to meet people from all walks of life. Over and over the folks I fly with amazes and inspire me! Occasionally I am reminded of the fortitude required to pursue your dreams. Flying requires courage. Flying also requires knowledge, skill, and money but all those things can generally be overcome with practice and patience. But courage requires reaching into yourself and creating a new possibility that did not exist in the world!

The courage to call a school. This, in some ways, is really the hardest step. Calling a flight school can be a scary proposition! Flight training, pilots, instructors, airplanes, etc., all have a history of being somewhat hidden, maybe elitist, enshrouded in myths created from histories long ago. Stories of instructors that yelled at students. Rumors of schools that were impartial or were only in it for the money. But perhaps more insidious is the knowledge within oneself that contact with a flight school or instructor starts the dream. Starts the process to create a goal which may seem impossible now, scary in all its trappings but requiring you to take a step forward to begin the dream, to move forward and unleash the wings of passion yearning to be set free. This to me is the biggest piece of courage required!

The courage to talk to an instructor. Aviation is a relatively small community, whether corporate pilots, instructors, maintenance personnel, office personnel, etc., compared to other industries such as oil and gas, or banking or hospitality, aviation makes up only about 10% of the nation's GDP. Although perhaps more important in some respects, especially in relationship to moving goods by cargo and travel transportation, because of the relatively small size of the industry as a whole, it can be somewhat enshrouded in secrecy, simply by less information or word-of-mouth and so on. Although social media has for sure opened up the secret lore of aviation, it is still not as widely understood as other sectors of our economies. Within this sanctum are the priest and priestess of knowledge holders known as Certified Flight Instructors. With our white smocked Captain’s shirts adorned with wings and things along with our leather satchels holding the tomes of reference knowledge like the FAR/AIM or Pilot’s Operating Handbook of Knowledge (PHAK), the CFI can seem like a wisely scholar, all knowing, and confident pilot ready to indoctrinate you into our exclusive club! But of course, these are men and women with as much varying experiences in life as in any other field exhibiting all the foibles and follies, greatness, and passion that every human being has. For sure, some CFIs are better than others. Some CFIs are better pilots but maybe lesser teachers. Some CFIs are better teachers but maybe lesser pilots. Some are good at both, some not so much. Others have years and years of experience while some are newly minted with hardly any experience. The selection of a CFI is going to be as varied as the location where you live, the type of school and more. But most CFIs are passionate aviators who were once just like you, mastering the courage to move forward and gaining greater degrees of courage to not only learn to fly but increase their mastery of aviation to the point that they can now teach it. Not an easy path for sure but to have this commitment also means they want to share this with you.

The courage to show up and meet someone new. Most all humans have an initial distrust of meeting someone new. An innate if not genetic disposition to protect ourselves and our family from the possible dangers of foreign people. This is going to exist in almost any situation that requires a person to meet someone new and can generate intense anxiety in some. Fear or anxiety to meet someone new cannot only destroy our dreams but make us unhealthy. We are a world of human beings. Meeting someone new some time in your life is going to almost assuredly be inevitable. How we learn to cope and deal with any of these interactions is what can also lead to further growth. To live life as a hermit or recluse is always another path to choose but if a desire to fly and experience the freedom of flight is what you yearn for, then you must gird yourself for meeting new people and practice the art of interacting and communication with another person. Because flying in the air requires a greater degree of infrastructure, working and communicating with other people is inevitable. But most folks involved with flying love what they do and are eager to share this passion with you.

The courage to get in an airplane and go flying. Probably the most obvious fear to overcome…getting into the air in a machine that magically flies! Most people will state that the fear is not of flying per se but the fear of heights. (Really it is not a fear of heights, if you think about it, you might see that it is a fear of falling, but wait, really it is just a fear of hitting the ground! If you could fall or fly or float effortlessly forever, you wouldn’t fear it.) Many people have what can be called rational fears but have the courage to overcome them. I know of a number of people that have a fear of heights but when flying, because they feel in control, they do not have that sense of fear. Like all determinations in life, somewhere the passion to fly, to slip the surly bonds of earth, overcome and drive a degree of courage into your heart that has you get into the airplane and begin the process of flying!

The courage to solo. Undoubtedly, participating in a solo contest triggers one of the most primal fears in the human mind. It is widely recognized that embarking on a solo flight without the safety net of an instructor symbolizes the triumph of courage over fear and marks a pivotal moment in one's flying journey. The true essence of bravery in the face of fear and apprehension shines through when a learner takes that leap of faith into the skies, feeling exhilarated, astonished, and humbled by the realization that what once seemed insurmountable is now a conquered reality.

The courage to continue. This is by far that hardest courage to muster. The commitment to continue in spite of the overwhelming obstacles of life, requires an unknown level of courage and commitment that cannot be seen but literally has to be manifested by your own mind. There is probably not a lot of fear associated with quitting but somewhere in the back of the mind, the loss of passion, height of frustration has taken hold and persuaded you to let the dream pass. Why continue when there are the usual obstacles of life in the way? Finding the courage to go on despite it all, is probably the greatest gift of courage anyone can create!


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