Monday, May 19, 2014

Flight Day

Charles Lindbergh transatlantic flight
Flight Day
Belinda @ Kids Matter
May 20, 1927, is a famous day in aviation history. That day, Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris on the first transatlantic flight. The plane, named ‘Spirit of St. Louis”, with registration number N-X-21 1, was designed based on the Ryan M-2, with heavy modification to incorporate the greater load of fuel needed for the journey. Thirty-three hours, 30 minutes, and 3,610 miles later he landed safely at Le Bourget Field, near Paris. What inspires a person to strive for such reaches? Besides a great love of flying and aircraft in general, the trip was inspired by the Orteig Prize; a $25,000 prize established by Raymond Orteig as incentive for the first successful transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. Not only did Lindbergh fly the modified plane, but he also helped in its design and was a financial contributor to the building of the plane. There had been other attempts at the groundbreaking record, but none were successful. Of the people trying to win the prize, Lindbergh was the least experienced in flight time and the youngest, at age 25, to make the attempt.
What goes through people’s minds to make them decide to soar through those beautiful skies? I had the pleasure of interviewing a local pilot to get answers to some of my questions. Meet, Arin Commens, a Beechjet Pilot and Flight Instructor, for Don Davis Aviation, a Fixed Based Operator (FBO), at the Henderson City-County Airport. Arin is a licensed Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) and is licensed as a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII).
At the age of 17, Arin looked up into that brilliant blue sky and determined that, that was where she was going to spend her career. She started her path to becoming a pilot at Indiana State University and finished at Vincennes University. Becoming a pilot takes several years of school and that is a costly venture. During Lindbergh’s training years, he worked as an airplane mechanic and a barnstormer. Arin said, “Any person putting themselves through flight training or paying off student loans will have multiple odd jobs.” Hers just happen to include cashier, Army reservist, telemarketer, accountant, maid, and she even resorted to lawn moving and donating plasma. I admire her great determination and desire to go after that career. No matter what career path you choose, it must be something you are passionate about in order to find happiness. Arin said, “If flying is something you have always wanted to do, take that flight, you will love it!”
When asked about some of her greatest adventures, she said she takes great satisfaction in the instruction part of it. “Seeing a student pass their check-ride, especially if the student had a tough time in a specific part of training, is exceptionally satisfying,” she said that with a smile and a sense of great pride. One of her most memorable and happy flying experiences, thus far, is when she took her grandma flying over the farm where she was raised. What a great experience for them!  As a jet pilot, the most exciting time was attending a Notre Dame, football game at Cowboy Stadium. She described it as a completely awesome adventure. She has also gotten to do something that I hadn’t even thought about when I sat down to interview her. She has flown three couples around for marriage proposals. Isn’t that exciting? She said, “… two of the three were accepted”. I can only imagine the ride back on that third one.
Though Arin has a great life, up in the wild blue yonder, she also has her feet firmly planted on the terra firma. Arin is happily married to Brian and they have two precious, beautiful daughters, Laura (7) and Julia (5). I couldn’t help but wonder if she, as a female pilot, would encourage that passion in her daughters if they were interested in flying. “If either of them has an interest, absolutely! I will always encourage them to follow their own hearts and find what they love doing,” she went on to give career advice to all young people, “Be confident, be yourself. No matter what everyone else around you is doing, do what makes YOU happy!” When asked how she manages a career in which she has to spend so much time away from family; to what does she attribute her success? She stated, “Balance is the key! I like the adventure that work brings, but when I am at home, I spend as much time as possible with my family.” Arin attributes her success in aviation to her dad. She said, “Dad has always been a great supporter in my adventure. He is always excited to fly with me and hear about my latest adventure. I appreciate all that he has done for me.” I’m sure her dad is a proud father and is happy beyond words with the woman she has become.
Lindbergh’s moment in history did a lot to advance avionics. I asked her for some of the results she sees to this day, that can be attributed to that flight and the work of his mechanical team. The modifications needed to fly Lindbergh’s plane across the ocean seems scary. I asked if she ever thinks about modifications and mechanical repairs when she is up in the blue. “I am always grateful for the avionics and equipment that we have in modern aircraft. It took great engineering minds to make that flight safely across the Atlantic. Every pilot today benefits from their achievements. As for the safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict guidelines on certification and the maintenance of our aircraft. I have great confidence in that process, the mechanical team. And, in the event of trouble, pilots are well trained,” she explained with great conviction and assurance. So, if you are considering becoming a pilot or anticipating a flight, rest assured the pilots know their job and are heavily regulated by the FAA, for your safety.
Arin is a great role model for people who want to take that leap of faith and build a career in aviation. I couldn’t agree with her more about going into a career that makes you happy. Do the research required to know for which field you have a passion. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take those risks. Be the Charles Lindbergh or the Arin Commens of your generation!

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