MADONNE: Late Starter

Little airplanes taxied onto the grassy field, and before my very eyes, seemingly ordinary people disembarked, with their children and elders and pets. We were at the small rural airport to attend a different event, which ran concurrently with this fly-in BBQ. This moment inspired my husband to announce his decision to get started on his life-long dream of flying. Always the practical one, I heard myself say that I too should acquire a working knowledge of aviation, you know, just enough to manage in an emergency. I wasn’t too far along that route before I realized that if I could learn the skills for a successful off-airport emergency landing, I could persevere and acquire an actual license (PPL).

Occasionally, I am asked about learning to fly ‘after 40’. I am by no means a ‘natural-born’ pilot, and had I not initially stated my intention to a few people, I would have easily become content to be a passenger. I succeeded because of the encouragement of others who had already made the journey --- my husband, an assortment of flight instructors, flying club members and Women in Aviation members, in addition to supportive friends from outside of aviation.

There have been some lifestyle trade-offs. As to the cost two PPLs in the same household, I consider them to be our 25th wedding anniversary gifts. As to the cost of buying our small aircraft, I equate it to the cost of furnishing a house and then maintaining it in the latest style. As to the thrill of looking out of our airplane in flight, and seeing its tiny shadow moving along the terrain below --- PRICELESS!

- Madonne Malone