My husband and I flew from San Jose to Ft. Lauderdale last weekend... commercial. On Southwest Airlines to be specific :) We had a stop over in Phoenix both directions of course. While there I chatted with a Southwest Airlines pilot for a bit. He was a friendly guy, he seemed surprised to have a stranger walk up and talk flying, but happy to talk.
I talked to him about preparing for my check ride and asked if he had any tips. He said to get a good night's sleep. *smile* He also said, in his opinion, the Private check ride was the hardest just because everything is so new. He asked what I was going to do with my license and I told him my plans. I also told him how I'd love to fly jets but I figured I must be too old to get started now. He actually told me they just hired a pilot who was 53. Yes, you need a thousand hours of turbine time before they'd hire you, but I could get that in 12 years! (OK, maybe I'm dreaming *grin*)
He asked where I fly and I said Reid-Hillview right next to San Jose Airport. Then he said he was going to be flying into San Jose on Sunday. I asked if he has ever been on approach from the south over the Santa Cruz mountains and had maneuvering traffic below him pointed out by ATC when he was at about 6000 feet between South County and Watsonville. He said, "Yeah". Then I said, "That could be me!" I always want to wave to the jets when ATC lets them know I'm down there, practicing PTS maneuvers when they fly above on approach to San Jose.
I get the greatest thrill when I'm interacting with other planes in some way or other. When I'm communicating with ATC, acknowledging and spotting traffic, when I hear ATC call me out to other planes. When I look out the window of my little plane and see a big plane in the distance, but perhaps at the same altitude or just a little higher. Or when ATC calls out a pair of jets and a DC-10 as I fly through Travis airspace. I love being up there with the big boys and even with other little fish like me.