My Journey to Flight
As part of the Blogging In Formation Series this is my post about how I was drawn to flying.
All of us have a different story of how we came to be involved in aviation. For some, you are just starting this journey, for others, it has been a life’s quest.
I came upon this path in a pretty conventional way. Like a lot of kids, Captain Eric Auxier included, I wanted to be an astronaut. Born in 1970, I missed the Space Race, but the Space Shuttle was heating up as I was coming of age and that coupled with sci-fi really got my juices flowing to go beyond our Earth.
At the time, only a few non-pilots flew into space, so it was a natural progression to see myself as a fighter pilot as a first step towards my end goal. As I peeled back the onion on what it would have meant to be a fighter pilot, the excitement of that almost eclipsed the original goal of becoming an astronaut.
I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and no one in my family flew or even knew anyone that flew. Consequently, announcing I would be a pilot/astronaut some day was akin to saying I was going to join Heaven’s Gate; luckily my parents were really supportive – still are.
Unfortunately it was for naught as bad eyesight precluded me from flying fighters. So I switched gears. I thought if I couldn’t get my thrills as a Viper Driver, I would go to work as an airline pilot and buy myself a Pitts Special. This was the vision I held in my head for over a decade and that is almost what happened.
The best part was taking this journey with my best friend Shawn. We both wanted to be fighter pilot/astronauts. We embarked on flying lessons in our early teens, but our families couldn’t sustain the costs so we accumulated a few hours and abruptly quit.
That proved to be a lesson in life. If we would have just hung around we would have most likely been able to sweep floors and wash airplanes for an occasional lesson or two. I guess we thought if we weren’t paying customers we couldn’t go onto the property.
A couple of years later we did muster up the courage to ask if we could barter for lessons, which is how we got all of our primary training. It wasn’t fast, but as kids in school with regular jobs on top of working at the airport, it was steady progress toward our goal. We also hooked up with another dreamer, named Danny, and then we were three.
As upperclassmen in High School it was awesome training and getting our licenses - we thought we were studs!
After graduation we all three went to flight school together at Spartan School of Aeronautics. I ended up going to a different school after nine months, which is another story (go here). I graduated from NAIA after only 4 months with all my ratings. Danny quit Spartan a year later. Shawn gutted it out there and graduated. I have regrettably lost touch with these guys over the years; Danny no longer flies, but I hear Shawn is Captain on a Gulfstream in Texas.
I didn’t end up flying airliners, I fly corporate jets. And I didn’t end up with a Pitts Special, rather I have an RV-8 that I built. I guess my crystal ball was just a tad off. If you have seen my RV you’ll recognize that it’s my defacto fighter that I dreamed about in my youth.
I obviously never made it to space, but I’m very happy with where my life has taken me thus far. I’m still a huge fan of manned space flight and I continue to dream!
And as a common theme with the rest of my fellow bloggers, I couldn’t have done this without the support of my parents. They sacrificed a lot and took a big leap of faith to set me on this path and I will be forever grateful.
So what brought you to aviation and has the journey been what you expect? If you are just starting, what’s your plan? I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments below or send an email. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog series – see more information below.
Postscript – After getting my CFI, I returned to my home town FBO where a teaching job awaited me – nice that pumping gas and washing airplanes in High School paid off! During my time there, I got the privilege of teaching my dad to fly (article here) in an airplane we restored.
Blogging In Formation is a blog series where six aviation bloggers join forces to deliver their personal message about how they were drawn to flight. Each author will create one post that tells their story during the weeklong campaign.
You can see their posts at:
- 05.07.13 Flight to Success - Karlene Petitt
- 05.08.13 Adventures of Cap’n Aux - Eric Auxier
- 05.09.13 House of Rapp - Ron Rapp
- 05.10.13 Airplanista - Dan Pimentel
- 05.11.13 Smart Flight Training - Andrew Hartley
- 05.12.13 iFLYblog - Brent Owens
The series runs the May 7th-12th, 2013