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From Media to Air

When I was young, my first airplane ride was to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was flying on Delta Airlines. I remember this so well, because I use to love watching the commercials in my room of all the different people who were sitting in those little seats on the plane. I couldn't wait until this was me! I had just gotten a color T.V. in my room for my birthday, which I think enhanced the commercials even more. I was so use to black and white television, and to switch to color was a major step up in life for me. I would remember sitting on my brown couch in the living room pretending I was a passenger on the airplane. Later on in life my mother told me, she saw me playing passenger, and thought I was weird. (She really did!) I don't know what it was that attracted me seeing the airplane fly through the clouds. At the time, I thought my attraction to the commercials was sitting on the airplane, when in actuality it was the desire to fly, but I had not realized this just yet.

The first time I flew was by myself. Neither my parents nor relatives were with me. I did fly once when I was a baby, but obviously I don't remember it. It was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had in my entire life. I have always remembered that particular flight. I was sitting on the left side of the plane in the exit row. I had plenty of leg room, and in fact I had the whole row to myself. I had a yellow bag with me and my mother had packed cheetos, and a sandwich, in case I didn't like the airplane food. You have too remember this when you actually got a full course meal on a flight, something I really miss. I had a chicken salad sandwich with chips, sprite, and, a piece of chocolate cake. I'm telling you I was having the time of my life as a 9 year old brat. Just when I thought I had reached the peak of my day, it got even better. While we were in flight, the flight attendant asked if I would like to see the cockpit, of course now it must be called the flight deck. Anyway, I was flabbergasted when she asked and was happy to go.

When I stepped onto the flight deck, I was in amazement to see the many buttons, switches and knobs that was in such a small compartment. For some reason this was something I wanted to do, and I have not really lost that bug yet.

My next important experience deals with a volunteer organization called Civil Air Patrol. When I was in my second year high school, I saw an ad in the paper for this organization. I was actually in my Algebra class looking at this magazine instead of paying attention to what was being taught. I felt I had a good grasp of the material and the instructor wasn't going fast enough. So, since I had to sit there for forty minutes, I decided to read flying magazines, and this is when I one day found the ad. What attracted me to this ad was the ad saying "Young kids learn to fly." Well, that along with seeing high school students in military flight suits looked really cool. It looked like they were Top Gun fighter pilots to me. This I believe is what hooked most of us into joining.

I then attempted to call the 1-800 number, to obtain more information. It was a recording that gave us another telephone number to call according to our area code. Well, I called this number for at the time was 312. This was before we had fifty million different area codes, I got an answering machine. I left a message and no one ever returned my phone call. I called back several times and never received a phone call. I wasn't sure of what to do. I finally decided to call the 1-800 number back and I gave them Urbana Champaign's area code. This gave me an entirely different number. Well, when I called this number, the same thing happened. I received an answering machine, and never got a response when I left a message. I checked the phone book and couldn't find another number. I also tried directory assistance and couldn't find a number. Ironically, while I was in church one day I talked to a gentlemen, who I saw and said hello to weekly, but never really talk to him until now. We were in the back of church, when I should have been listening to the priest, shootin' the breeze, when I finally mentioned to him my problem of trying to find someone in Civil Air Patrol. Little did I know the person, was a squadron commander with Civil Air Patrol. Since then I have done some traveling with them, and have also received my pilot's license. This was another good decision to get involved with.

This second touch of my history connects commercials that I have seen with the beginning love of flying. As I got older, another commercial that effected me is the military. One day I was laying on my bed watching television during the summer and I saw a commercial for The Air National Guard. It looked really cool. I think what attracted me, was the jet fighters they had fly across the screen. Now if you picture the high pitch sound that also went with the fighters, it was very alluring. I did not choose to go at the time, because I still could not picture myself going through basic training. In this case, I put this commercial in the back of my head, and at the time figured I would never do this.

Well in December of that year, everything changed. I had just finished a rough semester at Lewis University and could not go back for a second semester due to Lewis' expensive tuition. Well, I was actually back home laying across my bed not really sure what to do with the rest of my life. I had forgotten about the Air National Guard. It didn't dawn on me until I heard a small jet fly by my house, which was on its way to Meigs. You see, I live directly south of Meigs Field on the lake shore and can see the planes practically fly right pass me. Well, when I heard that jet, it reminded me of the Air National Guard commercial I saw with the jet flying across the screen. I then decided swallow my fear of basic training and call up to join. It was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. The military disciplined me, and got me in shape. I also had the luxury to travel the world and see a lot while being in the military. Finally, it has also paid for most of my schooling, which has helped me out tremendously, because I don't have as many bills as the average college student.

These life histories I have all relate to my one dream of flying. Ever since the Delta Airlines experience, I have had the desire and the burn to fly. Well, all of my experiences have pushed me to that goal. I never really realized what I was getting myself into until it was all said and done. I hope my life continues on these kinds of tracks that have been made for me.

February 1999

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