Hi everyone! My name is Rusty Coonfield and here is my BLOG. That's short for "weblog" to you. Kind of like an online journal which may or may not include subjects like: how to use a Macintosh computer, cool and useful websites, new technologies, photos of outdoor pursuits and my family and friends. Please add you comments and have fun! -Rusty

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"Professsional Pilot".... Does that sound right?

Today I crossed a big threshold in my life. Today I got paid to fly an airplane!

After an arduous winter last winter obtaining my instrument rating, commercial rating and flight Instructor rating it all paid off today. Yesterday I had gone down to get checked out in Western Air's Cessna 150- a small airplane that I could start instructing my friend Larissa and my brother Clint in. While I was standing there at the counter the manager, Dick was talking to an instructor on the phone about taking a guy up for a photo shoot. The instructor couldn't do it and when Dick put the phone down I was right there to say "I'll do it". Dick said "great" and 60 seconds later the instructor that had turned down the job called back to say he in fact was available after all, but Dick told him that he had already made other arrangements (very typical of aviation). After talking a bit Dick then proceeded to just go ahead and set me up as an instructor in his files and would be giving me a call when he had students to send my way. Wow, I should have come down to hang out a long time ago I guess!

The photographer drove all the way down to Visalia from Sacramento and the clouds were rolling in (very slowly though). He was concerned about the light not being sufficient. I started thinking "ya, I knew it was to good to be true and it wasn't going to happen today" but it looked like there might be some sun in the direction of the shopping mall we were to photograph. We decided to go check it out and about an hour later we landed with the mission complete. A great flight!

Next up was Larissa's first real lesson with her officially in the left seat. Unfortunately I talked to damn much and all we got in was some taxi work and never got off the ground before we needed to have the plane back for someone else's lesson but it was a good start for her to get familiar with the airplane and how to handle it on the ground. My first real student!

Top top the day off a beautiful sunset started forming just as another student at Western Air was "soloing" or flying the airplane around for his first time without his instructor onboard. For those of you who don't know - this is a ceremonious moment and a nearly sacred ritual amongst pilots. It is the day a student is fledged from the nest. The student's wife who had soloed just a few weeks before was there and their daughter, too. A touching moment at the flight school as the sun sank low over the field.

There can be many days like this when you are around aviation and that is a large reason why I fly. Flying is magical and the people of aviation exhibit a silent reverence for it's nuances that makes it even more so. Maybe it sounds a little corny but flying is the closest thing I have found to spirituality.