Let's Go Flying!

Love connection: The couple that flies together, stays together

March 1, 2010

Spending a quarter of a century in love with one person is something to be celebrated, preferably in an exciting and memorable way. And for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Dave and Sue Passmore of Great Falls, Virginia, did just that by earning their instrument ratings on October 4, 2009, about a week after the big day.

Never too old to set another goal for themselves, the Passmores, in their early 50s, earned their private pilot certificates in 2008 and decided to challenge each other again.

“While we each had a different flight instructor for getting our private certificates, we both decided we should train together to get our instrument rating,” said Dave, adding that the couple attended ground school together and chose Bob Garity at Leesburg Executive Airport as their CFI. “Bob convinced us that it would be really beneficial for us to each ride in the back seat while the other did the flying…and made all the mistakes. But seriously, it was great to sit in the back and learn instrument procedures and techniques without the stress of trying to fly the airplane at the same time.”

Not only that, but Dave said having the same flight instructor helped to avoid the “easy to get into arguments” about whose way is the right way.

The Passmores received nearly double the instruction, but they agree that in many respects the instrument training was much harder than learning to fly for their private pilot certificate.

“Flying the airplane on instruments under the hood while simultaneously talking to air traffic control and learning which buttons and knobs to use on the G1000 glass cockpit to navigate one approach right after another was, and still is, very challenging,” said Dave. “By taking lessons together, Sue and I were able to discuss afterwards what we had learned or what had gone wrong, and why, during the flight. We were also able to give each other a pep talk after those days where it seemed everything had gone wrong.”

The Passmores met when they belonged to the Washington, D.C., Hobie Cat Fleet. They both owned small sailboats, and although they still enjoy sailing, they are having fun with their new purchase—a Diamond DA40 with G1000 glass cockpit.

Their children have left the nest, and in addition to this pastime activity, the couple said they keep busy with their jobs.

“Sue went back to work this year, employed by an FAA contractor,” said Dave. “She probably wouldn’t have been able to get that job if she hadn’t gotten her pilot’s certificate. So learning to fly opened up a new career opportunity for her.”

Going through flight training together has proven to be successful for the Passmores when trying to do something that’s very new and challenging for a 50-year-old to learn.

And they’re happy to share a few words of advice for other couples.

“You’re likely to find that one is better at some type or part of flying than the other, so take advantage of those areas where your spouse is really good to learn from him or her. Be aware that the rest of your family may get tired of hearing you and your spouse talk incessantly about flying, especially when you’re both taking flight lessons,” said Dave. “But most of all, consider yourself blessed that you have a spouse or partner who not only tolerates your flying addiction, but shares your enthusiasm enough that they also became a pilot.”

What can you do? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site—and share it with a friend or two.