Life lessons from a private pilot student

Twenty years ago I developed a strong urge to learn how to fly; I was however a student and wasn’t sure I had the time (or money) to pull it off.  Almost two years ago to the day, I got my first demo flight and I was hooked.  120 flight hours, 400+ landings, and hundreds of hours of studying later, I am today a licensed private pilot.  While I am obviously extremely proud (although verifiable statistics are hard to come by, I have heard anecdotally that only 0.1% of the word’s population is qualified to do so), it has been a long, hard, and sometimes painful journey.

When I reflect back on these last two years, I realize a lot of what I learned has nothing to do with flying itself, and many of the lessons I have taken away have applied and will continue to apply in my life (both professionally and privately):

  • Perseverance pays off: There were numerous times during this long journey where my frustration was extremely high, and I almost gave up on at least three separate occasions.  Apparently, 70-80% of people that embark on this journey never complete it. I kept pushing through and it eventually paid off.
  • There is no such thing as a free ride (pun intended):  Getting through everything was hard, hard work.  In addition to the actual learning of how to fly an airplane, I had to revisit my high-school physics (how many of you remember Bernoulli’s principle?), learn about the laws of aerodynamics, and get a crash course on meteorology and biology.
  • Focus, focus, focus (a.k.a. 80/20):  Every step of the way, while I had sort-of mastered one skill, there  was a new thing to learn.  I was never satisfied with my performance and had to really fight my urge to perfect what I had already learned, vs. moving on to the next thing.

I am certain these lessons I have taken away will make me a better person and professional.  Now on to the next stage, getting my instrument rating.  Hopefully I will keep reminding myself of these three points along the way.

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3 Responses to Life lessons from a private pilot student

  1. RG May 1, 2011 at 22:56 #

    Ted,

    I love this post simply due to the fact that the lessons learnt seem so obvious and yet we tend to forget it during our daily lives. Reading about your post, I could relate to so many occasions when I succeeded by applying these very principles and slipped on countless other occasions for ignoring them. Sure to go up on my wall!!

    Cheers
    RG

  2. Sumith May 2, 2011 at 07:46 #

    Congratulations! Your learnings are timeless and can be universally subscribed to. I’d like to reserve my “free ride” over the bay the next time I visit Palo Alto.

  3. Isabelle June 5, 2012 at 17:17 #

    …so I guess there are some interesting posts on this blog!

    Love,
    Isabelle

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