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For those who love aviation, flying, and generally not being earth-bound.

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An aviation inspiration

by Mark Lamendola
Former aspiring pilot

When I was very young, I took a ride in a Piper Cub. From that point forward, I dreamed of being a pilot. That dream never came true, and I'll tell you why in a moment.

Even in grade school, I spent many hours reading about planes. I studied pilot training materials sent to me by my cousin's husband, who was a pilot.

He was both thrilled and amazed at my passion for aviation. He said I must have been born with wings.

When the news of Neil Armstrong's impending journey to the moon came out, I (still a child) insisted my parents take me to my pilot cousin's home to watch it on television--no other location would do!

That event fueled my passion for flying even more. One day, I was excitedly going over some pilot exam information with my mother--though I was still years away from being old enough to get a driver's license. She suddenly looked at me with horror.

One of the requirements for commercial piloting was to have 20/20 vision in each eye. What I did not know until that moment was I had a very weak left eye as a result of an injury--sustained beyond the horizon of my memory. Something inside me died at that moment.

Today, I fly as a passenger (sometimes)--and often feel I'd rather drive. The seats are cramped, the schedules are whacky, and many passengers are downright rude. Sometimes, however, I look out that window from above the clouds and suddenly all is right with the world.


Some celebrity aviators:

You may not know that these people are licensed pilots. Some are even activists in aviation.

  • John Travolta. Mr. Travolta has donated many hours to the cause of aviation. For example, he flew into the Kansas City Air Museum's air field to attend a fundraiser. Mr. Travolta sold personal dances and donated the proceeds to the museum.
  • Harrison Ford. Mr. Ford (see video below) has been extremely active in aviation causes. For example, he became Chairman of the EAA Young Eagles, a position formerly held by Chuck Yeager.
  • Clint Eastwood. He's a licensed helicopter pilot.
  • Morgan Freeman. Mr. Freeman holds several types of private pilot license.
  • Tom Cruise. Yes, Mr. Cruise is actually a licensed pilot, not just an actor playing one in Top Gun.

Some aviation acronyms:

  • FOD stands for Foreign Object Debris. This is basically small stuff on runways, and it can cause major havoc if ground crews don't remove it.
  • ILS stands for Instrument Landing System. It helps pilots in high traffic or low visibility conditions.
  • VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules. These apply in good weather, only. In bad weather, pilots must fly by IFR (Instrument Flight Rules).


Check out these aviation posters:



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