Today is the last day of 2011. I celebrated the end of the year the best way possible... flying! I flew my husband on a Bay Tour up to one of our favorite places to fly in and eat - Santa Rosa Charles M Shultz Airport's Sky Lounge. The weather here has been in a basically stagnant pattern for a month.... cool hazy conditions with an occiasional wind blowing out the haze, then hazy conditions once again. Today was a clear day, light winds, minimum haze. A beautiful day for a trip around some of the Bay Area's iconic spots.
We flew up the peninsula past Stanford University, Crystal Springs Reservoir, San Fransisco Airport, directly over downtown San Francisco. Then we turned towards the ocean to fly in to the Bay over the Golden Gate Bridge (that's a view no one sees from the ground), we flew out to Angel Island and around it, then back towards downtown San Francisco over Alkatraz Island. Another turn towards the Marin Headlands and we were ready to go eat. We didn't take pictures, we took video of the whole flight.. once the video is done I'll post highlights to share.
That's when we got into a bit of trouble. The airport operations manager drove up in his truck and explained we should not be on the ramp except to go to and from our plane. We apologized and started to head for the plane. He told me to go ahead and take a last picture... he said "Hey, you're here, you got caught, you may as well take the picture!" We laughed, thanked him, took the picture and headed back to the plane.
But this little adventure isn't really what this post is about... or maybe it is exactly what this post is about. When I started training for my PPL, the term "joy" entered my vocabulary. I'd never used it to describe my life or my wishes for others before.. but now I know joy. My joy comes from flying... from all aspects of it. The little adventures, the risks, the rewards, the amazing views of the world from above, views that no ground bound person can see. The challenges of flight training, my frustrations, fears, every down has had an equal up. When I fly I feel so alive, the world is new and immediate and challenging and demanding and soft and friendly at the same time. I get to feel and experience first hand the air under my wings. I get to interact with the same air traffic control that the big jets that carry hundreds of passengers do. I've met new and interesting and awesome people. I've become a part of a community of a very small percentage of the population that can fly. I'm part of an even smaller percentage of that group that are women.
When I look back at 2011, my view is through the lens of the joy of flight. The joys and frustrations and triumphs of my year of training that resulted in my PPL in November and the fun flights I've had since then enjoying the freedom's I've earned. The other highlights of my year were being able to spend a week with all of my brothers and sisters for the first time in many, many years and meeting my new niece and nephew, running the St. George Marathon in spite of not training for it, many parties and celebrations with my friends, teaming up with some other former student pilots to kidnap our CFI for a beer to thank him for granting us the gift of flight, feeling closer to my husband than I ever have before. There were many disappointments this year too... sprained ankle, work continued to be a struggle and my running suffered due to my flying. However, overall, I will remember 2011 as a year of joy. A year where I earned my wings and now I can exercise that joy whenever the weather and scheduling gods allow.
This next year I hope to use my new wings to visit my family more often. I'd like to start and finish training for an Instrument Rating so I can fly safely in the clouds. I'd like to somehow gain more peace at work. I'd like to grow closer to my teenage daughter and continue to explore the world with my husband. I'd like to run more and spend more time with my close friends who sacrificed their time with me so I can gain my wings. I'd like to take them with me on flights so they can see first hand the joy of flight.
My wish for you, my friend, is that you find your joy in 2012, whatever that may be. When you find that joy, share it with the people around you. Maybe together, we can spread joy in the world and there will be more joy, peace and love for all. Wouldn't that be wonderful?