This is me, 2 years ago today. September 27th, 2010 I became a pilot. Has it really been two years? I remember that whole day, clear as the sky is blue.
It was a crisp day. Conditions were perfect. The air was cool, stable, and slightly hazy. I pulled into Leading Edge Aviation’s in my beater Subaru. I wasn’t even nervous. Thanks to my Flight Instructor Drew, I was over-prepared.
Me and Tom the examiner climbed in 3542V and headed to Tooele. Land of the practice. We did all the standard maneuvers. Turns around a point, S turns, Steep Turns, and the like. I nailed every single one. I was feeling pretty good about my pilot performance. Skills run deep! I masterfully completed my short field landings, and all my other landings. I performed my simulated emergency engine failure with ease and serenity. I was fully prepared to land in the farmer’s field (The farmer thought so too. I was close enough to see the
about to poop his pants look stressed look on his face as he drove his tractor.)
Tom the examiner told me to head back to Salt Lake. We were on a long final approach for runway 35. While setting up to land, he said, “No flaps. Slip to land.” Did I really think I was lucky enough for him to forget to test that? Slip to land was my weakest move. Crap. I went for it, and the stall warning horn went off. I was panicking to the max. And Tom saw it. It was over. I failed. Back to my final landing… I was trying SO HARD to push the nose down. It was the suckiest slip to land ever executed. Worst part: All my airport friends knew I was taking my check-ride, and were watching for me to come back. They were all witness to the horrific landing. “It’s over,” I thought. “I’m going to have to retake my check ride. Drew is going to be so disappointed in me.” All of it down the failure drain. And as we were taxiing back to park the plane, Tom the examiner said, “How does it feel to be a real pilot now?” I lost it. I started balling. I was so happy. Months and months of preparation NOT down the failure-drain. Over the past year I sold my soul to aviation. I had no social life. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I lived and breathed aviation. This was the most golden moment of my life. I had worked and paid for this 100% on my own. I was now a part of the aviator club.
As I was crying in happiness, my airport friends were driving past in a fuel truck. They saw me crying. They went back to the Jet Center and told everyone I failed my test. They saw my crappy landing, and then my tears. Apparently boys need a lesson in telling the difference between happy tears and sad tears.
I had to work right after my check-ride. I was walking on air. I ran right through the doors to the front desk, and everyone was like, “Kenz, we are so sorry…” And the cargo pilots start telling me about all the check-rides they had failed and retaken. And I stared at them like they were crazy. “You guys! I’M A PILOT!!!” And then we celebrated by taking a celebratory golf cart ride a few laps around the ramp. I had a perma-grin for days and days following. Leading Edge held a banquet for me. Food for winners. And that was only the start of my flying adventures.
Flying is pure happiness. Flying is also incredibly spiritual for me. I can’t help thank God for the beauty of the whole Earth while I fly above it. I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.
Flying over the Spiral Jetty.
Aaron loves his pilot-wife.
St Patrick’s day adventure.