There is a road that exists in my heart. A wild tune can be heard at the moment I surrender the expectations and embrace the imperfections of this thing I call life. I am a late 30-something mama bird and some of those trips around the sun were painful. There were times I lost my shoes, the map, and lost my wings, but the beating of my heart never gave up on me. The whispers in the wind that brought my heart to life continued to call my name, and somehow they brought this hazel eyed, messy haired girl back to a path that looked familiar and yet was completely new.
I hope my writings do not show a woman who has somehow crossed some sort of proverbial finish line; a woman who has her life sorted, rather, they are of a woman who on many days is tired, and is finally at peace with this journey she is on. A huge part of that peace came from stepping away from a corporate world that I was good at and into a life that was less certain but filled with an immense amount of love. Filled with a love that radiated from inside of me I began chasing after the dream again, not the money.
It was this time last year, fall, when leaves were turning colors to mark the beginning of a new season that I sat at my desk at the flight school I was working at and began pouring my heart out filling out a scholarship form. The fear that tries to paralyze a person into inaction was moving in my mind and trying to cloud my thoughts. “Who would pick a 37-year-old single mom to win?” I thought. That amongst other lies tried to suffocate the beating of my heart, but my heart has grown too strong to be muffled ever again.
The career move that on paper appeared crazy to leave with the top pay on the corporate ladder had already become the foundation for an amazing love story of reigniting the fire within a girl. My wild heart would not be turned back this time.
The scholarship I applied for was from John and Martha King, of King Schools who are pioneers in aviation and have helped thousands fulfill their dreams of learning how to fly. The scholarship was for one female flight instructor to receive an add-on rating along with access to the entire King Schools online library. As someone that loves flying, to meet John and Martha, it’s what we pilots dream of. To find a fellow wingman to fly formation with, in headwinds and in tailwinds, throughout life who can support one another in our endeavors.
Months tailwind and I tried to not think about the time that was passing. Then one day my phone rang and it was San Diego calling with some sunshine for this mama in the middle of a midwest winter. John and Martha King had chosen me to be the recipient of their Female Flight Instructor Award. The giggling girl inside of me couldn’t be contained and the dreams of flying like Jonathon Livingston Seagull were going to come true. The best part of all is that I was including my children on this journey. In one sweeping spectacular moment the lies that I had been told and that I had believed for years; that flying was a selfish act, were about to be proven untrue.
A few weeks ago my kids and I embarked on an adventure that I hope and pray they will look back on with fond memories. With the giggles and apprehension of the adventure ahead, we boarded the metal bird that would take us from Louisville, Kentucky to Talkeetna, Alaska (then on to Haleiwa, Hawaii). We arrived at a magical retreat called Alaska Floats And Skis. Think day spa but magnify that by a factor of 1000 and you’ll start to understand how beautiful this place makes you feel. I have never found a makeup that is more gorgeous than doing what I loved to do. Beauty comes from within one’s heart and there are certain moments you feel radiant and this place is one of them.
I trained for a few days in a little single-engine plane with floats, designed for taking off and landing on the water. I was not alone on the flights, as each of my three kids took turns flying in the backseat of the floatplane. With a few hours of instruction, I was signed off to take my Commercial Airplane Single Engine Sea certificate which I happily passed. The flying in Alaska seemed so unblemished by man, completely surrounded by God’s country. Flying in awe of the majesty around me, I felt so small and at the same time, felt so complete and at home. To be able to share this adventure with my kids was beyond anything I could have imagined. My son has memories of his mom flying him to Denali in a bush plane and landing on riverbeds and lakes in Alaska. My girls were able to dance with their mom on water and skim over the top of the earth watching their mom fall more in love with life and all it can be. It’s so easy to treat this trip as just that, a trip, but it was much more than that. It was a fire that was sparked by the gift of a scholarship that has set my soul ablaze.
John and Martha King are amazing and generous aviators. This scholarship, in particular, was for a female flight instructor to get an add-on instructor rating. The reason for that unique detail was for the simple reason that Martha was the first and only female to hold every category and class of FAA rating on her pilot and instructor certificates. Being chosen as the recipient didn’t just reunite me with my passion, but reminded me to dream beyond the horizon. The sky is not the limit to your dreams, it is only the beginning. Those dreams exist beyond our line of sight over the horizon. I am following that love and am setting a goal to become another female pilot to hold every category and class on my pilot and instructor ratings.
To Alaska Floats and Skiis, I had the time of my life in Alaska. Thank you for introducing me to the Alaska spirit and loving my kids so much. I will be back again!
To the Kings, thank you for believing in a girl that has her eyes forever turned skyward. I hope that I can continue to pave the runway for others and infuse their hearts with a love for flight as you have done for me. Next up? Helicopter rating!