On Becoming An Aviatrix: The Seed Is Planted (Part I)

14 06 2010

Picking up where I left off on my introductory blog post on my story of how I became an aviatrix I will now begin to answer the question “What happened that caused me to want to become a pilot?”

As I mentioned previously I had been intrigued with aviation and in awe of pilots and flight crews in general since I was a small child. My first aviation memory must have been when I was about 4 years old, and my dad had to live temporarily in Michigan for a work assignment. I remember flying in a “Jumbo jet” with my mother and sisters out to visit him. To me, everything aviation related: the airport, the plane & even the food, was fantastic and larger than life! Being from a large middle class family of eight, the relatively high expense of airline tickets meant there were very few flying trips. This infrequency of flying, I believe, only added to the specialness of flying.  I would say this keen intrigue of all things aviation was the “Seed”  for the idea of becoming a pilot.

So just as a seed may lay dormant in the earth for many, many years until the conditions are just right for germination, my “Seed” of flying lay dormant for years. Until I was 21 years old to be exact. It was then that I had moved from Orange County in southern California to San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast to transfer into the School of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, a.k.a. “Cal Poly.” Fast forward three years later and I was married with a son and another baby on the way. It was 1991, and my husband, Leonard, was about to graduate from architecture school. The question came up: “Where will we live after graduation?”

Having an architecture firm, which was always the goal, benefits from carefully selecting a location to set down roots, network, and build your reputation.  It isn’t simple nor is it easy to relocate as an architect. With that in mind we contemplated staying in San Luis Obispo. Being my husband’s hometown, he would have a head start in networking. His parents were active in the community and had a large social network. His father was on the police force, and his mother owned a popular gourmet kitchen shop in downtown San Luis Obispo. Leonard was a graduate from San Luis Obispo High School, and was fairly popular in his class. Additionally, anyone who knows anything about San Luis Obispo knows it’s quite the charming, idyllic college town. Many more graduates desire to stay than are actually able, and on top of that 1991 was smack in the middle of a recession. There were building moratoriums throughout the county to boot caused by severe drought conditions.

The other factor we considered was whether or not I would be happy living in a small town. Coming from a large suburban area it took me several years to actually adjust to what locals call “The SLO life.” I probably drove back down to Orange County once every month just to get out of SLO and feel like I was living life at a faster pace. Then I remembered that my father-in-law was a pilot. I had learned this fact before when I first met Leonard and thought it was cool, but never really thought of flying myself. I began to think, “What if I learned to fly?!” Then that could solve that cabin fever, living-in-a-small-town-feeling I thought I would have. Living in a small town wouldn’t be bad at all if only I could fly out as I pleased. Easier said than done….. I decided I wanted to become a pilot, but that is not the same as believing I could be a pilot. At this point it was only a dream.

Next blog post: The events that led up to believing I could actually be a pilot.

Previously published June 14, 2010 at Forbes.com “Wheels Up”

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