Flashback Saturday: Why I Decided to Learn How To Fly

This is a paper that I wrote for my first college composition class back in September of 2006.  I hope you enjoy this academic writing piece from all the way back in my high school years.


How I Decided To Learn How To Fly

From the time I was born flying was part of my very being.  For years, my great uncle Charlie Wells managed an airport in central Illinois and was an acrobatic pilot.  He taught many people in my family how to fly, including my grandpa.  My grandpa was a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter pilot in Vietnam and later a DC-10 pilot for American Airlines.  My mom started flying lessons when she was 11, and went on to get her Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Rating at the University of Illinois.  My father is also a pilot, so naturally, I had the flying bug in my veins since birth.

I decided to learn how to fly about two years ago when I had the opportunity to fly with my mom on one of her proficiency check rides in a Cessna 172.  Being a part of a flying family exposed me to the many joys of flying through field trips to air shows and stories of experience, thrill, and danger.  Since my mom is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), she receives their magazine monthly.  Before I decided to learn how to fly, I used to read them over her shoulder, and ask various questions about how airplanes work, why they fly, and how to fly them.

When my parents decided to have children, my mom decided that raising us was more important than her much-loved flying hobby.  In my early teen years, I would observe mom as she would gaze up into the sky, and dream about returning to the skies someday. I used to sit next to her on the couch, as she would watch the Flight Instructor Renewal videos so that she could keep up her flight instructor rating.  She would patiently answer my questions in a manner that I could understand.

Three Generations of Pilots

About two years ago, the building blocks started coming together to make the foundation of my decision to fly.  I read an article in Mary Pride’s magazine, “Practical Home Schooling,” issue #57, that was titled “Civil Air Patrol Wants You!”  It covered the questions that a civilian would have about joining the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).  A few weeks later, mom and I encountered a CAP recruiting booth where we learned more details about the organization.  CAP is the official United States Air Force (USAF) Auxiliary.  Educating the public and CAP members about aerospace is one of our missions.  One of the things that drew me to CAP is the flying that they do.  While I’m a member of the cadet program (I will be until I’m 21) I will receive ten free orientation flights in CAP aircraft, which breaks down to five flights in a powered Cessna 172 and five flights in a glider. Two weeks after we spoke with the CAP members at the recruiting booth, my mom and I joined a CAP squadron out at the New Century Air Center in Gardner, KS.  We quickly found out about all of the numerous ways that I could learn about flying and get experience in aircraft.  I had the privilege to go to K-State’s campus at Salina and the Cessna manufacturing plant in Independence, KS, to learn about aircraft maintenance and manufacturing. I have also had the privilege to fly in a Black Hawk Helicopter and in a C-130 transport aircraft.  These awesome experiences helped solidify my decision to learn how to fly.

Not too long after I announced my dream to learn how to fly, my mom started to get re-involved in the world of flying.  She got checked out in a couple of different aircraft, updated her flying manuals and guides, and started researching what all had changed in the aviation world since she left it twelve years ago.  At this point, flying was just a daydream to me, but with mom’s help it became a reality.  I was enrolled in a college-level course that helped me pass the written exam called the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private Pilot knowledge test, which is required in order to receive a pilot’s license, and she began to take me up flying on a semi-regular basis.  I hope to solo soon and take the flight test with an FAA Designated Examiner within the next year so I can become a Private Pilot.

Look, Ma! I can fly!

With help from my mom, my decision to learn how to fly has helped me carry on the flying tradition in my family, as well as extend the boundaries of what I think I can accomplish.  The decision to learn how to fly is one that I will never regret.  There is nothing like the feeling of soaring high with the birds of the sky (as long as they don’t run into my windshield!!).

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