Why “Midlife Flight?”

It was July 26, 1989. My 38th birthday. My wife was tired of my explaining my keen interest in airplanes, Superman and everyone and everything else that flew with “But I’ve wanted to fly ever since Sky King!”

So, when I opened my presents that year, I found a coupon for three introductory lessons at Amherst Aviation in Northampton, Massachusetts, the “Flight Training Handbook” and the “Standard Pilot Log.”

You’d think that I’d rush right up there. But no. Instead, finding a whole bunch of excuses, some good, some bad, I hesitated. It’s one thing to whine about wanting to fly. It’s another to go and do something about it.

Finally, on April 13, 1990, I took my first lesson. The 0.9 hour entry in my logbook reads “Preflight, start, taxi, run-up, introduction to takeoffs and landings, four fundamentals of flight.”

On my second flight, four days later, I had my first experience with turbulence — even hit my head on the roof of Tomahawk 9674T. When we landed after only a half hour, my instructor apologized for taking me up in those conditions. “Don’t apologize,” I exclaimed. “That was fantastic!” I was hooked. I was in love.

Brand New Instrument PilotI earned my instrument rating in June 1992, and my Commercial license 3 years later.

The more I flew, the more fun it became. And my wife, who bought the bug that bit me, joined me. While living in New England, day trips to Nantucket and Block Island. October foliage tours with lobster dinners in Portland Maine. Since moving to Colorado, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon. A whole new world only a weekend trip.

Although I was always lucky enough to have fine, patient instructors, I know that most students are young, have aviation career goals, and are on the fast learning track. The slower pace of the student who already has a career and only wants to fly for pleasure, can be frustrating. I decided that I wanted to share my gift and, finally, on January 2, 1999, I earned the title I coveted — flight instructor.

This is my “Midlife Flight.” It can be yours too, if like me, you decide to finally take the leap, “because you always wanted to.”