“Son, your ego is writing cheques your body can’t cash,” becoming a pilot was always my dream, whether it was the air shows I went to or the countless hours impersonating Maverick from Top Gun. I’d like to think it was the former but we both know the truth...
During my early teenage years, given the outrageous cost of flight school, I developed an eagerness to join the Air Force. I loved watching videos of fighter jets, their agility and dexterity truly epitomised aviation. However, as soon as I brought this idea up to my parents, it was shut down instantly. Apologies for the anti-climax. The words ‘Army’ or ‘Air Force’ didn't exactly bode well with my parents. This put me in a position whereby I could either go down the civil aviation route or disobey my parents, tough decision. We reached compromise, if I obtained my degree from university I could take flying lessons in the future.
As an undergrad I studied an aviation related subject which was primarily based around civil aviation. As the years went by I became more knowledgeable about how the industry works which actually aligned my interest into the commercial world of flight. I was so eager to join flight school that I passed up the opportunity to study abroad whilst at university, as it would add another year onto my course, another year that could be used for flight training. This was further complicated by engaging in a relationship with a girl I'd met from California, (more on this later).
During my final year of university (with my parents blessing) I started looking at flight schools in America. I spent countless weeks calling, arranging video interviews, getting documentation in order but couldn't find the right fit. An extensive process to say the least. I was close to giving up on numerous occasions because just when I thought I'd found the perfect school something came up that made me think twice. Putting it into perspective I knew it would take me approximately 3 years to become a fully qualified pilot and if I started at one school I wanted to finish there. Additionally, given the large sums of money involved in flight training you have to be sure of which school to attend.
I’ve always been a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, a thought coined by William Atkinson; when you want something so much and you’re dedicated to giving it your all, the universe will help you make it happen. A belief that came to fruition. So one night at approximately 3am, I came across a flight school with huge promise. I admit I was probably on my fifth red bull so my judgement may not have been totally accurate, but from what I saw it looked great. Therefore, the next day as soon as the Pacific Coast clocks approached 9am I was on my phone contacting the school. After some questioning the owner was more than happy to provide me with a place contingent on an interview. I thought to myself, could this really be it? I even got my girlfriend to visit the flight school so she could do some detective work, you know, because girls are good at that kind of thing.
After passing the interview with the flight school owner the next step was my appointment with the US embassy, a quite intimidating and nerve racking experience. I knew my opportunity to go to the school really rested on this. I prepared like never before. Fortunately, the interview didn't last very long, all documentation was in order, and just like that they gave me the green light to go. In the world we live in a lot of people recognise the end accomplishment but not a lot of people truly understand the pure grind behind it. I was at a point in my life where I felt as if I actually deserved this.
Informing my friends and family that I was leaving for a while was tough because I don't really like goodbyes. Was I scared of the thought of leaving? Honestly, it terrified me, but I knew that all dreams come with sacrifice and truthfully if I was ever going to mature as a person and reach the next level that I demanded in my life it had to be done. I was committed to turning my dreams into reality and it proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Private Pilot here I come.