Adam’s dad, a former Air Force pilot, used to fly private planes. Small planes–single-engine Cessnas? Is that a thing, or did I just jumble that together from terms I’ve heard on TV? Anyway, I always always always wanted to go with him on a flight. The idea of two people up in the air, thumbing their noses at gravity and looking down on the mere mortals below them was–is!–so awesome to me. Unfortunately, Adam’s dad stopped flying before he had a chance to take me for a flight. Still, my dream lived on.
Last Valentine’s Day, I gave Adam one early hint about his gift: It’s something you’ve always wanted to try. He must’ve thought it was really something great, because while I made him an appointment for a straight-razor shave and man facial, he followed my unofficial gift theme and bought me a private flying lesson. I didn’t want to cash that puppy in right away, because what is there to see from the air in February besides snow? So, last Friday, mere hours after our commercial 747 from Vegas touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Adam and I drove to Flemming Field in South St. Paul for a two-hour lesson with Dan in a Beechcraft Skipper.
There is really only one word to describe the experience, which I’d anticipated so much for so long: nauseating.
I’m sure it would’ve been awesome had I not been preoccupied trying to keep down my breakfast. The constant side-to-side, up-and-down, front-to-back rocking really distracted me from the view, ambiance and the fact that, for a good portion of the flight, I was controlling the plane.
It was still a cool experience and I’m glad I did it, but I can’t help but feel disappointed, and not just because of my roiling stomach: I’d had pre-flight notions of taking regular flying lessons, getting my license, piloting weekend trips to Chicago with Adam, buying aviator sunglasses and using them for their intended purpose. I’d fancied myself a bit of an Angelina Jolie. But mostly, I’d really hoped that flying might be my uncovered passion, that I would instantly take to it and eventually become someone people refer to as, “Heather…you know, that little blonde with the pilot’s license?” I’ve spent 30 years dabbling in all kinds of hobbies, talents, pastimes and passions but nothing’s really stuck. I desperately want a definition, and I naively thought aviation might’ve been it. Wrong again, kiddo.
Ah, well. Maybe it would be greedy to expect to figure out exactly who I am at age 30? Maybe that’s the sort of thing that takes a good 50 years to really figure out? Maybe being a jumbled mess of half-assed attempts and vague desires is all one can ask of a 30-year-old American girl?
Or maybe… I’m more of a helicopter girl, anyway?! We won’t know ’til we try!