Confidence to Fly Solo

Every pilot remembers the day that their flight instructor stepped out of the airplane and you were left completely alone inside the cockpit for the very first time. What happened from that moment forward was determined by your actions, you were the pilot in command. All of your training has led you to this moment, but it was up to you to push the throttle forward and take off. Much like that student pilot nervously reaching for the throttle, many life changes leave you feeling quite alone and anxious. It is in this moment where you find the courage to fly solo, that creates you into the individual you are destined to be.

During my first solo. I had no clue the camera was zoomed in, but this shot captured my feelings perfectly.
Six months ago my hand was on the throttle, it was shaking because everything I knew was about to change. I was flying into unknown airspace, not knowing quite where I would land. It reminds me of the day I first walked into a flight school and began fight lessons. I was 19 and felt lost, I had just dropped out of college and had decided that my bucket list item of becoming a pilot may make a good career. I didn't know what to expect, but I showed up and I flew, not knowing how my life would change in that moment.

For eight years I shared my life with another pilot, half of those years we shared a last name. Together, we took advantage of all general aviation had to offer: $100 hamburgers, headset selfies, traveling on a whim, meeting new people in interesting places. Most of these have been recorded in my other blog, and I encourage you to check out some of these great adventures for you to fly one day! To date, the decision to leave the life we had built together was the hardest of my life. I found myself once again in uncharted territory, searching the sky for an answer. I felt that I had failed.

My recent decision would lead me out of the cockpit for the longest period since I was 19, but instead of breaking me, it has only made me stronger. The divorce forced me to make hard decisions for myself and deeply evaluate the life I was living. Looking back, I was still that girl at the airport just getting by in aviation simply by showing up. While I was having remarkable experiences and adding up hours in my logbook, I wasn't becoming a better pilot because the duties were shared. Often, my husband became my handicap when there was something that believed I couldn't do. It was easier. My inaction hindered my abilities and caused my skills to rust and confidence to fall.
"Real confidence in the air is bred only by mistakes made and recovered from at a safe altitude, in a safe ship, and seated on a good parachute." Rodney H. Jackson, 'A Lesson in Stunting,' Aeronautics magazine, February 1930.
It is so important to have the confidence to fly solo, to be on your own, both while in the air and on the ground. Suddenly finding myself completely independent showed me all the power and confidence I had been hiding away inside. I had not failed. With each mistake in life, I have learned an incredible life lesson and with that, the potential is endless.
A little confidence does wonders for the complexion-and the type of aircraft you'll jump in!
I've mentioned this before how the airport community has become my family, and it rung ever more true through this year. My announcement was never met with judgment, but with support and a listening ear. This is the side of general aviation I'd love for "outsiders" to experience; that warmth in knowing that you belong and have a community and activity that can help melt all your troubles away and boost the confidence inside you. I wanted to take a small moment out of this post to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each person who has been there for me this year, even my ex husband.

As I depart onto this new journey, the visibility is unrestricted, although the air may have a few bumps along the way. But there is one thing I know for sure: that I am the pilot in command. It is my hand on the throttle and I will be the one picking the destination. I'll see you at the airport!

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