A Continental 737 (N13716) lands into the sunset at IAH in late 2010 – Photo: JL Johnson
A few months ago, we brought you the story about how I was excited to begin attending ground school in pursuit of unlocking my life-long dream of learning to fly. I was excited, ambitious, and, in retrospect, naive. If you haven’t read that piece, it’s a quick read and contrasts nicely against this one.
Life’s path is littered with success and failure. And while we tend to hear more about success, failure is where some of the most valuable learning occurs. So this is the story out how, despite learning a lot while attending ground school, I flunked out.
This is a positive story. Trust me and read on…
“When were you bit by the aviation bug?” This question or some derivative of it comes up frequently when aviation-inclined folks find themselves engaged in chit-chat. It’s a question I have answered many times, but never with much regularity in my response. The truth is, it is hard to nail down any particular moment. After years of pondering the question, I now have my final answer.
Some of my earliest memories revolve around playing in my grandmother’s back yard near Phoenix, Arizona. I distinctly recall that one day I looked up at the clear blue sky to see a white line slowly being etched above. At the end of the line was something I could barely see. It fascinated me. Around age five, this was the first time I had seen such a thing. I had to know what this phenomenon was.
I ran inside and demanded attention from the whole family until finally, they joined me on the back deck. This was when I learned what a contrail was. People were on an airplane I could barely see. They were flying overhead leaving a long arrow across my sky. At that moment, I decided that I too wanted to fly.
And so it began…