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.