I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. I was obsessed with Top Gun from the time I was three years old and was determined to become a fighter pilot. Those dreams were crushed early and hard when I found out in pre-school that I am insanely color blind. Fast forward about 19 years and I received a gift from an uncle who had just finished getting his sport license. He would pay for my first flight lesson. At the time I was living in San Diego and Montgomery Field was the closest airport to me. I called up a local flight school and booked my first lesson. As obsessed as I was with Jets and flying I never actually looked into how airplanes fly so when I found out you steer with your feet and your hands and the modulation of throttle and the other million things going on to fly the plane really hurt my thinking cap. Yet here I was for the first time with my hand on the yolk and throttle, feet on the pedals, and about to take my first flight to become a pilot.
My first flight was incredible taking off and looking out over all of San Diego. We flew straight out over Mt. Soledad and then pointed north to head up the California coast. As we turned north a pair of F-18’s blasted west 1500’ feet blow us presumably heading off the coast to go practice dog fighting and other Top Gun shit. I was putting along at 90knots but I was up with the F-18s flying. It was a surreal first flight. I hit the flying hard for about 3 weeks until my bank account was hit hard by the reality of how expensive it is to fly. I made sure that day though that if I ever could afford it I would be a pilot.
Fast forward 7 years I find myself watching YouTube and a video comes on from a pilot named Trent Palmer. From the introduction of the video I was hooked. He was flying a sporty looking plane who’s cockpit was pretty much all glass. It had big tires, and he was landing on gravel bars, empty desert roads, and taking off from mountain tops. He was doing rolls and throwing Shaka’s. I’d heard of bush flying but never gave it much thought because I figured it was strictly for Alaska business operations, getting hunters into the bush, or get supplies to far off remote places. Here I find a young guy flying like this for fun and of all places Reno, NV! My head was ripped open and I was obsessed with his videos. At the end of each video he wraps it all up saying “you know what to do guys, hit the thumbs up if you like this video, subscribe if you haven’t, COME BE MY WINGMAN, peace.” COME BE MY WINGMAN!!!! If that isn’t an invitation into aviation, a call from the heavens to get off my ass and go flying I don’t think I was meant to be a pilot. It called to me and I became obsessed. I was going to be a pilot and just happened to have the funds now to do so.
I wanted to find a flight school that specialized in tail draggers. I wanted to be a bush pilot. It took about 3 seconds to find exactly what I was looking for. Adventure Flight with Fred Williams, flys out of Stead Airport in Reno and teaches out of a Kit Fox with a 912. I had just sold my house in San Clemente and was escaping that nuclear waste land. I was headed to Tahoe to live and learn how to fly bush planes.
Getting my pilots license is one of the best things I have ever done. I won’t drag you through the weeds on what it takes to do it, or my experience (in this article). I will say it was awesome and very worthwhile. If you have any interest in flying go do it you will not regret it.
Come be my wingman.