Sunday, March 6, 2011

whaddayoufly?

Last week I spent 3 days at the Women in Aviation conference in Reno - yes, I said aviation.  Me.  Go ahead and laugh ya'll, I can hardly believe it myself still but take it from a self proclaimed aviation poser, I went, I saw, and I was totally freaking humbled.  Surrounded for 3 days by over 3000 women who were mostly pilots in some shape or form, I blended and shmoozed and floated through the masses.  These women were Captains on 747's, flew helicopters for the Coast Guard, or flew their own little planes just for fun ya'll.

Even being one of the few not wearing a flight suit - and now I totally want one but more on that later - the number 1 question I got asked about 799 times was whaddoyoufly?'  It was like saying Good morning  and hello and after the first day I stopped tilting my head uncomfortably to the side when I responded.  I finally learned that while I was not one of the 2984 people who had the proverbial balls to fly aircraft for sport and profession, I was no less valuable a player to the game.  I was there as an educator and my job was/is to learn how to get others - girls especially - excited about careers in aviation.  And to them, that was cool.  Exciting even.  Inneresting.  

I chose not to tell them about my bottle of mama's little helpers in my carry-on for fear of being booted out of the event.  They didn't know that as I talked my way through lunch and over cocktails that I am one of the most pathetically weeny baby flyers on the face of the planet.  You all know this, but they did not.  I suddenly felt like mine was the most irrational and ridiculous fear although when you think about it, the idea of barreling through earth's atmosphere in a multi-ton machine does sound a little death defying (but still totally awesome).  But apparently so is driving a car and moreso even.  At the end of my time there I have to say I was inspired.  The workshops that I took were excellent but it was more about the people who I met that gave me the most inspiration and caused me to look at flying through new eyes.  Talking about the take-offs and landings (my weak points), turbulence, and everything else gave me new perspective and a new appreciation for my pilot friends - especially the ones who do aerobatics but I secretly think there might be something wrong with them anyway.  


The real test for me came when it was time to take off from Reno.  Do I or don't I?  Can I not?  I confess, I did.  But I made mental effort and had conversations with my self and I think it helped.  Did I when I flew out of Denver 5 hours later?  I didn't.  Yay me.

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