AOPA Project Pilot provides members with the tools to find viable flight-training candidates and support them as student pilots with the wisdom and encouragement of experienced pilots through mentoring. A student with a Project Pilot Mentor is three times more likely to successfully complete his or her training. This exciting program is available free to all AOPA members. You don't have to be a CFI to participate. All it takes is someone who wants to share the joy of general aviation and a few minutes a week to help a student along ( www.AOPAProjectPilot.org).
Making sawdust in my spare time keeps me grounded. Literally, in that it's hard to fly while you're sanding. But also figuratively, in that creating furniture and sculptures feeds my soul and quiets my mind.
A few years ago one of my furniture clients asked me if I would carve him a sculpture of the Spirit of St. Louis. I resisted at first because I do rustic work — not realistic sculpture. I told him he could order something very nice out of an aviation magazine and it would be done perfectly to scale.
He said, "I don't want a perfect one; I want one that has your funky style and rustic character. Both my brother and I fly 747s across the pond for FedEx. We were inspired to take up flying by your grandfather's 1927 flight. I want to give my brother a sculpture for his birthday."
In agreeing to work on it, I didn't anticipate the seductive power the airplane itself would have over me. I became intrigued by its unique shape and symbolism. I started to fly it around in my hands and imagine myself in the cockpit. I could fly across the Atlantic — couldn't I? I thought of flying alone above the ocean — what would it be like? I became so captivated by the spirit that I felt compelled to explore the feasibility of doing the flight myself. That flight changed my grandfather's life, indeed it changed the world. Could I do it too? And I did! That 17.1-hour flight also changed my life. It was a rite of passage. It also allowed me to reach millions of people with a message about the X Prize and the future of flight.
The insistent request from a client pushed me to expand my creative boundaries, which shifted my thinking about my grandfather's flight. That client unknowingly planted the seed of adventure in me. AOPA Project Pilot is all about planting the seeds for future adventure. You don't always know which seeds you plant will grow. However, one thing is for sure: unless you sow those seeds, nothing will grow. Become a Project Pilot mentor now, water frequently, and watch as new adventures unfold!
AOPA Project Pilot spokesman
We welcome your photos. Although we can't guarantee publication, we encourage you to e-mail photos to [email protected] or call 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672). For more information or to nominate someone for AOPA Project Pilot, please go to the Web site.