Alyssa J. Miller
Day job: AOPA eMedia Director/Managing Editor
Certificates and Ratings: Commercial pilot, instrument rated
Flight hours: 330 hours total time
Dream vehicle: Robinson R22. As one helicopter pilot pointed out during my intro flight at a fly-in, the helicopter has the same engine as a Cessna 172, but it can go backward! (While I’m dreaming, I’d like to throw in the funds for my add-on helicopter rating.)
First car: Ford Explorer (I’m a country girl.)
Memorable experiences on wheels or wings: One of my friends developed breast cancer a couple of years ago, underwent surgeries and treatments, and battled back like a trooper. I had offered to take her flying, a goal that she held onto for more than a year before I was able to fulfill the promise. While she was flying, I slowly moved my hand from the controls. She didn’t notice. Finally, she asked if she could fly the airplane by herself for a minute while I took a picture. I said, “You’ve been flying by yourself for the last five minutes!” She was thrilled! To her grandchildren, she’s the coolest grandma in the world!
Farthest flight and drive: Airline flight to Moscow. Once a year I work with churches and orphans in Russia. The flight is long (especially if you are so excited you can’t sleep a wink), but it’s worth it to see the children each year.
Favorite aircraft: I did most of my childhood flying with my dad in a Cessna 170B. It evokes fond family memories, but it’s also a Cessna and a tailwheel, the best combination in the world in my opinion.
Weirdest road trip and/or flight: A road trip to Mexico with a flight over Puerto Penasco. My friends and I drove from Sells, Ariz., west to Why, Ariz., turned left, and continued straight to the Mexican border. (Yes, it was that simple, and the town really is named “Why”—the roads converge in the shape of a ‘Y.’) We drove three hours through the scorching desert, just for two hours at Puerto Penasco. I spotted an ultralight flying over the beach and approached the pilot after he landed to ask for a ride. The price, of course, was negotiable. I rarely pass up the opportunity to hand-fly an aircraft, but as we flew along the coast at sunset, I quickly gave the controls back to the pilot so that I could soak up the scenery.