What Are You Waiting For?
By Pam Lance, EAA 875036 for Light Plane World
I got hooked on flying remote-controlled (RC) aircraft in the early 1990s. I wasn't a builder; I just flew mostly almost-ready-to-fly (ARF) models which I enjoyed for hundreds of happy hours of tinkering, flying, and crashing. I enjoyed flying RC airplanes, but flying full scale never seemed in the realm of possibility. Then I watched my mother become bedridden, and gradually lose a fight with cancer. She drove home the point herself by asking, "What are you waiting for? Tomorrow isn't promised."
My mother's sudden passing gave me a chance to reevaluate just how short life really is. Within a few months, at the age of 58, I walked into Chesapeake Sport Pilot at the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, and took a demo flight. Lucky for me, people can enjoy this new dimension at almost any age. I had made many lifelong friends with my RC flying, but that hobby is probably the main cause of my current flying addiction. As a student I was more like a tortoise than a hare, but with a patient instructor I took my sport pilot checkride one year later with about a hundred hours in my logbook. That "license to learn" was so much fun that about a year later I wanted to learn about the view from the right seat. Now at 61, with a new still-damp sport instructor certificate in my pocket, I can get friends up in the air and share the fun of learning, and share the marvelous view.
I trained in CSP Tecnam S-LSA until a few months past my first solo. Then a cute little Allegro appeared on the ramp with a "for sale" sign on it. It was repossessed by the bank. I visited it often and finally took a demo ride followed by a call to the bank. Luckily, because I didn't know what I was doing, the Allegro turned out to be a great trainer. I called the plane Pooky. Whenever I go up in my little Allegro I feel like Alice in Wonderland, or like I've fallen through the looking glass. It's a beautiful planet from any angle, but the bird's-eye view is just magical. Since that first demo flight I've been pretty much hooked.
In the last three years, my Allegro has given me 500-plus hours to marvel at flight, and taken me places I would otherwise have never seen. A trip to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010 was actually a cross-country flight ending at Fond du Lac Airport followed by a bus ride the last bit. It was the year of the floods. I didn't actually experience a landing at Oshkosh, but I was pumped up for a long time about my week at AirVenture and the adventures I had getting there and back again. I advise anyone who would like to experience flight but figures it's not probably feasible that all sorts of people of all ages have found out it is doable and tons of fun. In the words of my mother, "What are you waiting for?"