Thursday, December 2, 2010

Circle (Part Four)

"I always knew if you had the chance, you'd want to learn to fly. You have so much of your grandfather in you..."

I'd approached the subject cautiously. I'd flown to Farmington twice in the past two days, and was due to fly up there again Monday. Those flights were like nothing I'd experienced before, and I wanted to learn more. And -- though I planned to pursue lessons even if Mom had expressed reservations -- I was greatly relieved to have her blessing to do it.

Serendipity played a role in what followed. The pilot I'd flown up to Farmington with had a friend who'd just earned his flight instructor certification, and was looking for a student. A friend graciously loaned me some money to get started. Soon, under his tutelage, I was plying the skies in a variety of Cessna Skyhawks, some lessons learned more quickly than others.

I soloed for the first time in N62507 at Belen Alexander Airport (E80) on July 24, 2004. One week later, I drove a U-Haul moving van with all my earthly belongings to Dallas. Eleven months before I'd left DMC to take a customer service position at a building materials company called American Gypsum. That company was now relocating its home office from Albuquerque to North Texas. The fat moving stipend I received kept me in the air, and I soloed a second time from Collin County Regional Airport (TKI) the following November.

If the path I was on had been fortuitous up to that point, the road that followed was nothing short of a miracle. One day in May 2005, I was browsing aviation headlines on a website called Aero-News Network, and came across an article about the search for unpaid "stringers" to help cover the annual AirVenture gathering in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. On a lark I submitted some writings of mine. One in particular caught their attention, and soon I was off to Wittman Field to learn how to be an aviation writer.

I was a quick study. Within two months I was writing for ANN on weekends... and on October 28, I left American Gypsum to pursue a full-time career as an aviation journalist.

Aero-News opened new horizons for me, and was a welcome and earnest distraction from my fears throughout a bout with testicular cancer. The job allowed me to earn my Sport Pilot license, in April 2008. Alas, good things don't always last, and within a year -- thanks in equal part to the economy, and the need for health insurance -- I was back where I started.

Back at DMC. And, really... that's about right, isn't it?

It seems like I've been here before;
I can't remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we'll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There's no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.
-Harry Chapin

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