Clear in memory from my 20’s is becoming lost on my first solo cross-country training flight while learning to fly. Absorbing what it took to become a pilot came easy and I was able to advance faster than most. The danger in that accomplishment was becoming a bit too “self-impressed” resulting in partial blindness created by my own ego. I got lost on my first cross-country solo training flight soloI
Being disoriented and off course as a student pilot was a harrowing experience for a little while until I realized I could ask for help on the radio. Two airports about 50 miles apart honed in on my signal and triangulated where I was. It was easy for them to give me a new course which I used to land at one of the airports about seventy miles from my “lost” location.
From this experience I learned:
Life Lesson #1 = Even a single slight change of course makes for greatly changed direction over time.
Life Lesson #2 = Sometimes the only way out of a predicament is to ask for help.
Life Lesson #3 – My ego is very capable of over-estimating my ability and dragging me into a serious situation if I don’t watch it closely.
For over a decade I spent lots of my spare time “boring holes in the sky” as pilots call it. I even owned an airplane for about six years (a Piper Cherokee). If you’ve heard people talk about how boats are a sinkhole for money, then multiply that a few times to get an idea of the expense of owning an airplane! I could just have easily rented planes at a lesser expense, but I “just had to have one”.
Life Lesson #4 – Just because I want to own something does not mean I should.
Life Lesson #5 – I can easily spend far too much on something if I let my ego in the driver’s seat.
Years later after the getting lost incident, I had three different mechanical failures I felt were messages sent to me. 1) Smoke from electrical wires starting to burn partially filled the cabin while I was flying in controlled airspace until I figured out what causing the problem and turned it off. 2) Another time upon landing and pressing the brakes I realized I had none and found out later a brake line was ruptured. With a little maneuvering the landing stayed safe. 3) Sometime later while landing a rental airplane I had taken out for aerobatics when, on landing, the gear broke on one side and could have collapsed, but thankfully didn’t. I took those as signs and decided then to give up flying because responsibilities, including raising a son, were no longer allowing me sufficient time to fly enough to stay a safe pilot. To this day I believe that was a wise choice.
Life Lesson #6: Pay attention to the subtle messages life sends me. I only have to be receptive and acknowledge them.
Each thing I do causes a slight course correction or deviation in direction of my life. One never knows until later which variations are, 0ver time, life changing and which is the stuff that doesn’t matter. Many times I have heard about how someone’s life was saved simply because on a whim they took a different route home and avoided the accident that would surely have taken their life otherwise; or how missing a flight turned out to be a life saver; or how taking one job over another was the difference between success and failure; how one met the love of their life by taking a trip to a city never before visited based on a dream they once had; or how outcome was affected by choice made without logic in a hundred other stories simply because a person somehow “felt” they should do one particular thing or another.
Where ever my little bit of a sixth sense comes from I am convinced, if it not directly divine within itself, it is certainly a connection to a power higher than me. Don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t. There are no words to logically explain this phenomena. With increasing frequency these “feelings” come more often now I have learned to trust and take them into account. However they come to be and from whatever source, I am deeply grateful for the benefit these gifts continue to bring to my life. When I am centered, peacefully open and aware, my “feelings” are so much more accurate than my “thoughts”!
Would things have really been so different
Would the world really have been so shaken
If when I were a much younger man
I had chosen the road not taken
Would the days have been any the brighter
Or the nights darker than they are
Would I still have lived in such obscurity
Or shined brighter than any star
It does little good to wonder
Of things that might have been
For who, and what I have become
I must live with in the end
Though life could have been much better
All in all I do not feel forsaken
I count the blessings that I have
And cry not of the road not taken.
“The Road Not Taken” by William Kite