Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cleared for Take Off

Nine years ago, when I first started dating The Pilot, I took my first flying lesson. I had lived through watching a ton of air disasters on the news, but got in the plane anyway. He put me in the left seat, so I was “driving” while he gave me instructions from the right seat. Before I knew it, I was pulling back on the stick and we were floating. It was great! Until, of course, I looked over at my then boyfriend and saw his hands no where near any of the controls. I was flying the plane. ALONE!

I freaked out!

By the time we flew to Tahoe to get married, I was fairly comfortable with the bumps and wiggles that a small airplane takes when flying over mountains and through wind. In our first year of marriage, we took several local trips to Catalina Island or Vegas. I always flew from the right seat, helping with the transponder following our location and reading the sectionals charts, sometimes even taking control of the stick. Although I was still a bit nervous up in the air, I was technically ready for ground school at that point.

Then we had our first baby.

You know it goes when real life starts coming at you. It got a little trickier to travel. Then the second baby came and it got nearly impossible to fly for fun. If we did go up together it was for the purpose of getting to a family gathering, not just for pleasure or training.

Poor spoiled baby, right?

But it really was a bummer for me. I first went up in a little tin can airplane when I was fifteen. I was on vacation in Baja with my dad and his family. We met a dad and daughter while there. Heather was exactly my age. Exactly! We were born on the same exact day and merely hours apart. We hit it off just great and ended up spending endless days by the pool together while our boring dads and my step mom played cards. We’re in the middle of Baja and they’re playing cards. Whatever. Anyway, Heather and her dad had arrived in a little Cessna. They offered to take me up for a joy ride. I begged and begged my dad to go up. He finally relented.

And I was in love!

It’s amazing what you can see from a low altitude over the ocean. And in such a small vehicle, you kinda get the feeling that YOU are flying. I couldn’t stop giggling and squealing for quite some time after I landed. I was too young to think of all the horrible things that could have happened to me. I was just enjoying myself. I have never forgotten that. Later… much much later… I worked near an airport in North San Diego. My eyes would drift off mid sentence sometimes as I watched the planes coming in the traffic pattern to land. I remembered the day so many years before that I had floated above the turquoise waters and I couldn’t help but smile.

And then I landed The Pilot!

Being married to a pilot has some perks, but not the ones people usually think of. I don’t have a stack of tickets at my desk to jet off to some faraway destination any time I want. I usually have to drive to his destination with the kids and all of our bags. It’s less hassle than flying commercial, and besides, most of The Pilot’s destination are nowhere near a big airport that I could buy a ticket into. The drives usually aren’t so bad. But I beat myself up thinking how much sooner I could be somewhere if I would just get my license. There just always seemed to be something else to do.

But now, nine years later, everything is falling into place. I am so close to answering yes to the annoying question, “Do you fly, too?” I’m a little nervous, but I just can’t stop giggling as I do my ground school lessons. I keep thinking back to that joy ride in Baja. And that feeling of flying.

And I just can’t help smiling!


That’s me at fifteen just before take off in a single engine Cessna.


Anonymous said...

GOOD FOR YOU!! How very exciting! I have to say I was so jealous of your Twitter this morning! I think it's great you're doing this!

I love the theme of your blog. 5 years ago I began living my life for "real" too. I've never known such happiness!

Hope to see you at #gno again! It sure was fun!!

Steph said...

That is so freaking AWESOME! YAY, Sugah!

Rowena said...

Wow. I can't even imagine learning how to fly. That isn't even on my radar.

Oh. Haha. So says Flying Girl.

Real Live Lesbian said...

How fun! It sounds like life is leading you towards flying, doesn't it?

I'm so very jealous! I've never been on a small plane. But you've just made me want to.

Ann said...

Small planes ARE fun....and sometimes a bit scary.

GOOD for you, girl!

Lovebabz said...

Girl, get it done and quite fooling around...

Sending you flying LOVE!

You are my new SHERO!

Lu said...

you keep smiling. i loved this story.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sugar,
That is so cool! You go for gold, and best wishes on your first solo flight.

Anonymous said...

Good luck on the lessons and flying.

I helped start an aviation club at my high school but it never got off the ground. :)

Spooky said...


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Please play along, pretty please with sugar on top??

Adventures In Babywearing said...

That is amazing! I am in awe of you.


HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Hey Sugar! How are you? I'm so sorry I've been AWOL from your blogs.... it's not YOU, it's ME.... been a "challenging" Fall for yours truly, shall we say.

ANYWAY. Congratulations on getting closer to earning your wings! That is MOST cool!

btw - I did watch that video you sent me and I loved it. Even though I'm voting for Obama I loved what that guy had to say. He definitely 'spoke his truth' and did so honnestly, straightforwardly, and unapologetically. I loved the video. Thanks for sharing it!

Becca said...

Good for you! I am not sure that I would ever do it, but you give me hope that I would if I ever thought that leaving terra firma was a good idea!

D'Arcy said...

You fly anyway, with or without a plane.

But that type of freedom is amazing. The fact that I have been near a major airport and have been able to just hop on a plane for a weekend away or two weeks away has made my world much smaller.

I could see myself wanting to learn this trade!

Amanda said...

Congratulations! What a rush to read a narrative like this, and the picture at the end? Priceless!