22 November 2010

Fling-wing Things

Saturday, 20 November dawned cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop numerous aviation enthusiasts coming to the airfield to see what was going on. But, what was going on there? Well, Stellenbosch Airfield played host to no less than 43 Gyrocopters and broke the African record of the most Gyrocopters on an airfield at one time.

The African record was 28, and unfortunately Italy still holds the world record of 52. But was still a good day with a fair amount of flying despite the clouds and odd showers. It proved to be a good day for some networking, and a huge Christmas Party was held that night (unfortunately I had to play barperson/waitress at he event, so I wasn't really part of it). I don't have much to say, so here are a couple of photos.

As you can see, a Gyrocopter is essentially a combination of a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter. Go figure.

Oh, and a beautiful Harvard was there too. Unfortunately we didn't get to see her fly.

In other news…
I’ve finished High School! No more stupid school exams and wearing a boring uniform! Am I happy? Well, I think it’s still sinking in.

17 November 2010

It's All About The Passion

How many times have you started something, and then not completed it? Like that book, that blog, that song, that website, that portfolio, that DIY project, that degree, that homework (shudder), that shopping list? Guilty of any of that? I know I am.

But why do we do that? Why do we start something, and hardly ever finish it? Laziness? Well yes, I am extremely lazy, but I still manage to get some things done. Like sit on the couch, drink coffee and watch TV... Ok, so laziness is definately part of it. But the other part - the more significant part - of the human-being's lack of 'task-completion' is due to a lack of passion (in my opinion).

It's really quite simple. Those that go far in life are passionate about what they do (or they've had no other option but to do what they do). It's psychological; you can't be great at something if you don't have the Will, the Drive, and the Passion to be great at it. Take writing a book for example: I'm very good at coming up with an opening line and a closing paragraph. Awesome, but what about the rest of it? No matter how much I try think of a good story, I'm hardly ever able to write more than a page. Now, that's not due to a lack of imagination, but rather a lack of passion: Why am I writing this story? Do I plan on ever finishing it? The short answer is No, I don't actually plan on making it something worth reading, so why bother finishing it. Heck, why bother starting it?

The same goes for blogs and stuff. I think I must have about 5 blogs floating around the interwebs, most with no more than two (rather pointless and boring) entries. How does this tie in with The Flying Fish, you might ask. Well. . .

Flying is all about passion. Because without passion, you probably won't get anywhere. As I've mentioned before, becoming a pilot isn't easy. Especially if you want to work overseas. Picture this: PPL (7 subjects), CPL (8 subjects), ATPL (not sure of how many subjects, but it's probably about 7). But wait, there's more! Should you want to work in Europe you need to get another license (which means more subjects). And should you want to work in America, there's yet another license (and that means even more subjects). So at the end of the day, you have a stack of flying notes that go from floor to ceiling, and your eyes are bleeding from all the reading, and your brain has been reduced to a puddle of some unrecognisable substance that is oozing out your ears. Lovely.

But if you're passionate about what you do, all the long hours spent studying and the pain of writing (and possibly re-writing) exams won't matter. Much. Sure, it can start getting to you and you'll begin to wonder why you decided to be a pilot.

But for me, seeing the world from a couple of thousand feet, or doing low-level flying over open areas makes everything worth it. Getting back after a flight and filling in my logbook leaves me with a sense of pride. Every take-off, every landing, every correctly executed manoeuvre leaves me with a smile on my face because I can say "I was in control. I did that, and I did it well." Every exam passed gives me a spring in my step, and every exam failed helps me to learn more. Every step I take, takes me that much closer to achieving my goal. Every step forward fills me with a sense of achievement.

That is why I do what I do. That is why I've picked myself up after every failed exam or horrible landing (and there have been a few spectacularly bad ones!). That, to me, is what life boils down to; finding something you enjoy, something that you're passionate.

What you put in determines what you get out.

09 November 2010

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Sunday, 7 November

I’m a firm believer that, if you do good for/towards others, good will eventually come to you. A lot of good things have come my way this year, and a number of people have given me some truly amazing opportunities. So I’m always looking for ways to give back.

Being a volunteer pilot for Reach For A Dream was one ‘big’ good deed that I’ve done this year. On Sunday, I completed another good deed; I gave a young man the opportunity to fly in a light aircraft for the first time. A simple act, but one that has left him extremely happy and yearning for another taste of flight.

It's little deeds like those that make a world of difference. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives and problems that it’s nice to reach out and help someone else out every now and then.

04 November 2010

2 Down, 6 To Go!

Yes, that's right! Today I found out that I've passed Radio Aids. It was by the skin of my teeth, but the actual mark doesn't really matter; a pass is a pass! So that's a huge relief.

Now I only need to stress about 6 more subjects, the General Radio License, and the Flight Test. And maybe my final matric exams too. . .

Bring it on!

02 November 2010

It's Funny How One's Mind Changes

Things have been quite quiet. Well, on the aviation side of things at least. I’ve done very little flying, but last week Wednesday I wrote Radio Aids, and yesterday I decided to take a flight up to Malmesbury. I had the whole of the GFA (General Flying Area) to myself, so that was enjoyable. I've also hit the 90-hour mark (finally!).

My Matric final exams have started, but of course every time I sit down to try study, I get bored and end up thinking about flying, naturally. And that resulted in me pondering about the human mind...

It’s weird how one’s thoughts, opinions and ideas change over time. A few years ago I was positive that I’d fly for the RAF. Then I decided no, I’m going to be the second female fighter pilot in the SAAF. Every time someone asked me what I was going to do after school, my answer was always “Fly for the SAAF!”, and they’d ooh and aah.

But then last year I started to wonder if I should fly for the SAAF; 16 years is a long time, and what are my chances of actually making fighter line? I decided that I would apply anyway; that way I could say that I tried, and move on with my life.

It’s been about a year since I applied, and I haven’t heard from them, so I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t make it. But that doesn’t really concern me too much. Yes, it would’ve been nice to get a letter or something (I didn’t even apply to the Royal Navy yet they sent me a letter and a whole lot of info explaining why I wasn’t eligible to join), but I guess that this IS South Africa.

But I’m an indecisive person, and I’m forever changing my mind. So now I’m thinking “Maybe I should apply again. Who knows, I might make it this time.” But still, 16 years. Yes, someone told me that as you get older, 16 years doesn’t seem like all that long. But I mean, 16 years!

Yes, I could finish my CPL, get my Instructor’s and then go fly in the Bush for a year or two, then give the SAAF another go. But I don’t know. I’m definitely going to get my CPL and my Instructor’s rating (hopefully before the end of 2011).

Maybe I’m worrying about nothing. If my marks aren’t good enough (right now I seriously doubt my maths marks will be good enough), then there’s no point in applying. Maybe then I’ll stop chopping and changing my mind every other day.