Finding Open Air


About 10 years ago, I set out to write a book. It sort of started as a family joke when I was a kid and my maternal grandfather proclaimed, “If I wrote a book about my life, I’d have to sell it as science fiction!” Over the years, I amassed a number of interesting stories and experiences, as we all do! So I sat down to write about them. Yeah, that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. And from the immortal words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans!” Yeah, that book didn’t happen. Jobs. Family. Mortgage. Kids.

But I never gave up on the idea. First, I decided I needed to learn how to write a book. I read books, but I didn’t want to use someone else’s ideas. Some view that as plagiarism. I attended writer’s groups and their advice could be summed up as ‘you gotta figure it out for yourself, but once you do, we’ll help you publish.’ They did provide some helpful tips about finding your passion, useful writing techniques and sources of inspiration. It wasn’t until I had retired from the military and was trying to re-invent myself as a flight instructor, and after hosting five foreign exchange students one at a time over several years while parenting our young children that I really found my motivation.

I started putting together Shutterfly books for our kids each year. All of the exchange students were interested in the unique experiences I was able to share in aviation. When my own daughter, now 8, started school, I started doing aviation workshops for her class. I learned that aviation is not taught in most schools, short of some history of the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and Amelia Earhart. What about Bob Hoover, or Chuck Yeager or Patty Wagstaff? I started reading more books about famous pilots, such as Jimmy Doolittle and the enormous contributions they made to aviation.

As time went on, I became more in tune with the conversation I was having with people when they learned I was a pilot. There were three categories of conversation with aviation enthusiasts. Either they were pilots and we’d share stories, or they had flown with someone and shared their experience but never pursued aviation on their own, or they had always loved aviation but never found the time or money to learn to fly. After my first start-to-finish flight student passed his check ride on the first attempt, I felt more inspired. I love to help others and there was no greater joy for me than to share the gift of flight. I wanted to share this with the world!

So in the evenings and weekends I would tend to my computer, jotting down ideas. In recruiting more flight students I found I was always having a similar conversation about the basics of flight, things you can do in aviation and finding that most people really didn’t have much knowledge of how to become a pilot. So I set out to write out that ‘two hour conversation’ that people found useful and inspiring. I explained all of the basics of aviation, from learning to fly to possible career paths. I started adding more elements of interest, such as aviators that have inspired me but are generally unknown to anyone outside of aviation. I reflected on my experiences over 20 years of accumulating my flight ratings and found better ways to approach them. I had input from other pilots along the way and then started including more recent changes in regulations that even seasoned pilots found a bit challenging to keep up with. Then I added some of my own stories that were inspiring or enlightening and before long, I had the makings of a book.

Then I sought a publisher. There are a ton of ‘Indie’ publishers and none of them resonated with me, but one. I intentionally chose that one. I had been introduced to them to by a professional photographer that had utilized my flight skills to capture aerial photos that gained an interest in learning to fly. The publisher didn’t have any aviation background, which became useful to me because he was able to help me tailor the book to communicate to non-pilots. The entire point was to share aviation with people who had an un-aided interest in aviation. Through him, I honed my writing and editing skills and learned that I have a lot to share. He was ever intrigued by my stories that are probably more commonplace inside certain aviation circles, but generally not discussed openly with the public outside of aviation.

Through the editing and publishing process I realized in our combined research that there is somewhat of a revolution happening in aviation. The industry is changing and so is what a pilot might look like. Moreover, with some of the knowledge shared in the book, I realized that aviation touches virtually everyone’s lives to some degree and yet most people are complacent, never giving it much more than a passing thought. The final version of the book Open Air, that I came up with is the absolute best guide for anyone with any level of interest in aviation. It is a general basic overview of everything as it related to aviation, becoming a pilot or making a difference by being informed about an industry that largely operates invisibly in plain sight.

Buy the book! I think there is something useful inside of it for everyone. If you’re a seasoned pilot, flight instructor or Airline Pilot, you’ll enjoy getting to view aviation from a different perspective and likely know someone you’ll want to read this book. I think the book compliments many of the efforts of almost all aviation organizations as an ambassadorial work to inspire and inform their clientele. Not all of my stories were able to be published in the book, but would make very interesting and informative speaking opportunities – like my most recent plane crash survival story. My approach is positive and incorporates a fair amount of humor. At least for me.

And if this article comes across as a bit of an advertorial or shameless self-promotion, well how else would you suggest I let people know about what I have been working on for the past few years? I listed my website a coupe of paragraphs ago. It’s a start and will only get better as I segue from writer to author. Join me on the Open Air Facebook page or on twitter @Air4Everyone. This is where I get to share many of the inspirations and ideas that didn’t make it into the book. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of great information in the book to make it a great value to my readers. And once you read it, please help me promote it to others, by liking, sharing and commenting on social media! Together we’ll make a real difference in one of the world’s greatest inventions and freedoms – aviation.

See you in the Open Air!


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