Welcome to Thrust and Vector, an aviation blog for pilots and non-pilots alike. There really is no better place to start than my '67 Cherokee 180.
I was 20, and wasn't really going in a particular direction. My dreams of being a rock star had recently been dashed, I wasn't in school, and my only other dream--being a pilot--weighed heavy on my mind. So, my dad helped me find this 1967 Cherokee 180 and I bought it--zero time, zero experience other than my 1,000 hours in Microsoft Flight Simulator. I get asked often, "how did you afford an airplane?" Same way someone buys a car--I borrowed money. A lot of it.
And it was worth it. I bought it from a guy at Stellar Airpark in Chandler, AZ (which first piqued my interest in airparks) and with my dad, who had gotten recurrent after a couple of *ahem* firm landings, brought it to its new home at DVT, Phoenix Deer Valley. I had my first flight on February 16, 2005, soloed on March 8th, and earned my private ticket on May 28th. Dad and Grandpa were there, pilot certificates in hand.
Fast forward two years. I had amassed about 250 hours in the Cherokee, finished college, and flown all over Arizona, as well as visits to Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Texas. But alas, it was time to sell, for I was off to the Air Force and airplane ownership didn't feel practical with the rigors of pilot training on the horizon. I had tried everything, from online to print to local ads with no bites on my plucky little airplane. So I listed it on eBay, offering to deliver for free within a thousand miles of DVT. And I got just one bid, from a fellow in British Columbia. I was excited. It had sold, I had a deposit, and I was set to deliver it the following week, and ship out the week after that.
Meanwhile, I had made a friend. Caitlin had moved from California to be a manger at the In-N-Out Burger where I had a week left of work after four years working to pay for school and flying. We had made friends, and bonded over karaoke; I hadn't asked anyone to go on this trip with me, thinking I may want to have the final hurrah with my old bird alone. But in confiding to Caitlin my exasperation with all I had left to do before I skipped town, including delivering an airplane, she didn't hesitate to offer "wow, I'd love to go." Without really thinking I said, "okay."
I'll describe the journey later but I'll tell the end now. After an 11.4 logged alongside my master navigator, I had decided that there was something special about this girl. No, more than special, actually, I was pretty sure this girl was my soulmate. So I asked her. And she thought she was. We were married just over five months later.
You might see my excitement for this blog. Aviation is so much more than just a trip to Canada, more than just learning to fly, perhaps even more than meeting one's soulmate--it is a journey, every step of the way. Often it will lead to unexpected places, but it will always be an adventure, great or small.