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This past year I’ve been thinking and reading quite a bit about one simple question; What makes a great pilot?

I am not only looking for this in my real world flying, but I also look at what makes a great pilot in Flight Sim.

One conclusion I came to after reading Charles Lindbergh’s book ‘We’ was that there is a lost art within aviation and therefore flight simulation. I realized this after reading about how ‘Lindy’ did things during his career, which lead him to a historical first crossing of the Atlantic at the ripe age of 25 years old. He also did this on May 20th which is my Birthday.

Many of us are pilots. How many of us are aviators?

To me there is a large gap between the two. Although this gap isn’t defined in the dictionary, I consider this to be a hot topic of flight training today. Defining these differences and planning our training structure to address the issues, we’ll find the way forward.

Bear with me while I explain.

When I was 19, with a new pilot license in my pocket, I had a complete intention of becoming an airline pilot. It was my focus in life. My end game.

I ran across a Delta 737 pilot, based here in Salt Lake City, and asked him what the one piece of advice he would give to a prospective airline pilot. He replied, ‘You have to REALLY love flying’. I replied, ‘Well I REALLY do, so that won’t be an issue!’.

What he was saying in simpler terms was ‘You have to love it enough to put up with all the crap’.

I have a major passion for aviation. But it doesn’t hinge on whether I get to ease the throttles forward on an aluminum monster with 200+ passengers behind me. It’s the mere fact that up there my perspective on life and the world changes. It makes me feel so small and obsolete in the most dramatically romantic way I can imagine.

I eventually realized I didn’t want to be an airline pilot. I just love to fly. A lot. I pursue this passion in many ways.

Charles Lindbergh knew this. He was quoted saying, “In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.”


I’ve always considered an aircraft as an extension of my soul. An expression of my need for freedom. Up there, the aircraft gives me wings I wouldn’t otherwise have and a perspective I couldn’t otherwise achieve.

Anyone can pilot an aircraft. I fly because I’m an aviator.

Why are you an aviator?

This article was posted in AOA


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  • Daniel Shin

    Chris. That was very impressive story. I decide to buy your products NOW!

    • http://www.flyaoamedia.com/ Chris Palmer

      That easy, eh?!

  • Sam Craig

    Hello Chris,

    I love this stuff. Makes me want to fly and become what I always dreamed of being, and that being a pilot. Very inspirational stuff Chris. Never to old and never to young. I was raised near an RAAF base here in Australia, and all my life I watched some old birds fly around. My favourite was the Mirage and the Vampire. Ops, sorry for rattling. LOL. Thanks again Chris for the inspiration and your knowledge.

    Regards

    Sam

    • http://www.flyaoamedia.com/ Chris Palmer

      You and I are a lot alike then! There isn’t a plane that I spot in the sky, or hear fly overhead that I don’t look up and check it out. I’m still just in love with all of it. More now than ever!

      This simulation thing just makes that love even deeper, doesn’t it?!

      • Dave Taylor

        This simulation thing just makes that love even deeper, doesn’t it?!

        Reply
        Especially watching your tution Chris ;)

  • Scorpio47

    Very well said, Chris. Thank you for posting this in your blog.

    I, like you and many others here, have a passion for flying since my childhood and I must say that the feeling of freedom and being one with the machine is greatest in soaring.
    I started out that way when I was about 17 or so and those wings of the old Ka-8 were MINE! No engine noise, just the whistling of the wind… WIth a view to the feeling you describe – nothing can beat soaring!

    However, about 45 years later and with more than 800 hours logged in single engine planes I still am able to feel the passion and beauty of flying even in front of the little screen with a plastic stick in my hand.
    I am sure this will never leave me and I enjoy every minute of it now in a comfortable chair….

    Thank you again for reminding us of what makes a true aviator :)
    Juergen

  • Marcel Hamilton

    Chris, Thank you for sharing your view from an “Aviator’s” perspective. I also consider myself an Aviator and it troubles me when i look at the industry and see many pilots regretting the decision to fly. Things will change for young aviators like myself and I hope someone reading your blog will realize the difference and make the decision to become an aviator…for once you have tasted flight you never go back!

    Best Wishes,
    Marcel

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