On the recent Airplane Geeks episodes there have been some excellent stories of getting started in flying. I appreciated Rob Mark’s comments on his finding a flight instrutor that helped engage his passion for flying in the Bits and Pieces IX. The episode with Stephen Tupper included discussion on the CAP program that educates thousands of young people about aviation.
David’s note on Congratualations, Thanks and Encouragement from Episode 230 inspired my own desire to spread a little gratitude. Like David’s daughter getting a scholarship from the Soaring Society of America I started my career as a glider pilot courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.
I couldn’t tell you when I started thinking about airplanes. As far back as I can think I had the desire to fly. In elementary school there would be a assignment to go out and draw something we saw and I’d look up and see a contrail and produce a detailed side on view of a DC–8 in the appropriate airline livery.
Canada along with other common wealth countries like Austrailia and the UK, have the legacy of the wartime cadet program. No longer with the same focus of preparing for military service, they remain one of the largest youth programs in the country. Every year hundreds of cadets get their wings and the dream of flying is realized. There’s even a facebook group called Cadets Made Me a Pilot
Well about 30 years ago they made me a pilot. While I never made a career out of it, it would take a major calamity in my life to ever give it up. I owe that and a large amount of gratetude to all those that helped me get that set of wings. When times would get hard, I would push myself to remember the fundementally cool things about being me and being a pilot is what I would always think of.
In the Right Stuff, they spoke of being ‘on top of the pyramid’ well if that still is a thing there is a ex-Air Cadet named Chris Hadfield orbiting the earth in command of the International Space Station. That is very, very cool. Cadets made him a pilot too, although you got to figure he probably would have got there anyway. For many of us Cadets or other avaiation scholarships were probably our only shot.
I’m grateful for the work that organizations like AOPA and COPA do to make flying accessable to people. And help break the sterotype that those of us that fly are some idle rich that can afford triffling pastimes. To many it is also a career but not always a glamorous a one as many make out.
As podcasts like the Airplane Geeks and Airspeed show, Whehter you have the piece of paper or not, Flying is a passion, an avocation, something to be embraced and enjoyed.