I am not a pilot but I married one.
I consider myself a novice flyer. Although aviation has been in my life now for over 12 years it has only been in the past year that our family has started flying with my husband. Considering its taken me this long to take the plunge, I want to share my experience and be frank about the whole thing. You see, it hasn’t always been easy.
This is for all the people out there who are married to pilots (or seriously considering it) and find themselves in a pickle because they are not fans of flying in small airplanes. You are not alone. In fact, I frequently hear from pilots that their wives or significant others have never really enjoyed flying but they either get used to it, or just avoid it all together. Because I don’t want to be the latter, I decided to find a way to make it OK and I want to share what its taken me. You see, if you are sitting in my seat (the RIGHT seat) this one is for you.
If you are like me this is what crosses your mind when your loved one asks if want to fly somewhere:
- Turbulence – Nope.
- Comfort? Depending on the plane, you may conjure up an image of a yolk protruding between your legs or an hour or two of ‘dodge the control stick’.
- If something goes wrong, you can’t pull over. And finally..
- If something goes wrong, you can’t pull over. Mentioned twice for emphasis.
The truth is, when you choose to get into a small airplane and you have no idea how to fly (sans pitch hitter training) it can be a pretty scary thing to consider what would happen if something goes wrong. This is a real fear and certainly cant be minimized, but there is also another side. Freedom from other constraints that are beyond your control (traffic), the beauty and calm that only the sky can provide, and time. Time saved from travel and time spent gaining new experiences, meeting new people, and enjoying a perspective so few will ever have.
So here is a bit of background.
When my husband and I first met, he told me he built an airplane in his basement. I didn’t believe him, but quickly discovered it was true. After about a year of dating I knew aviation was a huge part of his life and I needed to be OK with that. I told him I would never stand in the way of his passion, so long as we could have 3 to 6 children. After we laughed that one off, we both agreed we would find a way to support each other no matter what. Two children and many airplanes later, we did.
The problem was I just couldn’t get comfortable flying. I was fine for him to fly, I just wasn’t very much interested. I flew commercial but really felt like ‘why fly if I don’t have to?’, so I didn’t. He was disappointed but he understood and decided to let me come to it at my own speed.
Meanwhile, my husband continued to fly and eventually became a Certified Flight Instructor (currently working on his CFII) and aviation continues to be a huge part of our lives. Drones, RC airplanes, experimental aircraft, flight simulators, airplane clubs, Pilots for Paws, Civil Air Patrol, you name it. And the kids were getting into it, too! They have grown up building things and flying things and I knew at some point my lack of interest would have an impact, I just didn’t know when.
It wasn’t really until a last minute trip to Florida came up that forced me to face my demons. I knew it was time to bite the bullet, so like any decent and responsible woman I called my doctor and I asked for a Xanax. Don’t judge, I felt it was the right thing to do. Then I did some research and found out that is the worst thing you can do so the day of the flight, I put a pill in my pocket and hoped for the best.
And here is what happened.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We had hardly any turbulence and for the first time since having the twins I had nearly 4 hours of uninterrupted time to read. The trip was a miracle. Compared to the 12 hour drive we were facing, it was a breeze and we had a wonderful time! A huge lesson was learned and every flight since has been better and better.
So I want to end with this. If you can at all relate to anything I’ve written here, don’t give up on yourself quite yet. The RIGHT seat has a lot to offer.
Jana Braswell – August 2019