- Katherine Stafford
Forget Motivation - Cultivate Discipline
A single mom at 19, Christy Wong worked full-time and earned a double major, all the while admiring the 737s flying over Las Vegas.
“One day I am going to fly that!” she declared in 2007.
Later, Christy met her husband-to-be, Steve Wong, and moved to Texas, where he worked as a corporate pilot. She kept telling him, “I want to fly. I want to be you, basically.”
But Christy was pursuing her medical biochemistry masters and an allergy specialist career. By 2011 she was married and pregnant with their son. During the pregnancy, Steve was laid off and left aviation. Christy missed flying.
In 2014 she met Heather, a married mother of two, who worked for Spirit Airlines.
“'Are you a flight attendant?’ I asked, because I’m an idiot. And she said, ‘No, I’m a pilot.’” Heather was the first female professional pilot Christy had met. “I asked, ‘Can I touch your skin?!’”
Seeing is believing. After many conversations with Heather and many hours of watching cockpit flying on YouTube, Christy told Steve she wanted to become a pilot. Fully supportive, Steve renewed his CFI rating and they joined the Aerovalley Flying Club of northern Texas.
By midyear 2017, then 34, Christy had her private pilot’s license. Despite initially feeling like a fraud, she quickly earned her instrument, single-engine and multi-engine commercial, and CFI ratings with a 100% pass rate. May 2019, she earned CFII. She did this while balancing family life and full-time work.
“Honestly, it was a struggle. I had to make sacrifices in certain parts of my life. The first thing to go was my social life. If it did not involve aviation, I didn’t go.” Christy said. “We’d grab the kids and the airplane and go on a family trip. Put me under the goggles, while we’re at it, and log cross-country IFR time.”
Three times a week she got up at 4:30 a.m. and drove to the flying club’s hangar. She pushed the trainer out, completed her preflight, and waited for civil twilight to fly VFR conditions for an hour before work. In the evening after work, she flew again.
“I had an internal motivation that this is where I belonged,” she explained. “People say, ‘I was meant to be your wife,’ or ‘I was meant to be a mom.’ I was meant to fly.”
Some days were tough. Practicing spins terrified her, yet she pushed herself and did eleven spins in one day. Same with multi-engine power-on stalls. Concerned for her student, Christy’s instructor asked if she was okay.
“No, I am not okay!” she responded, as she reached to retrim the airplane. “But I’m going to do it.”
Christy has become an aviation ambassador. Now a full-time flight instructor, she is the flying club’s president and co-owns a 1981 Piper Cherokee Warrior in the club’s fleet called Wong Warrior. She flies for Pilots for Paws and EAA’s Young Eagles program, and she takes “old eagles” up for discovery flights, too. On YouTube, she co-hosts In The Hangar and her aviation journey is on Instagram @pilotchristy. There she posted that she is in First Officer training at Envoy Air, Inc. and earned her ATP. Her dream is on the horizon.
Along the way, she came up with a saying: “Forget motivation. It’s fleeting and requires zero effort. Instead, cultivate discipline. Discipline will get you through those hard times.” Sometimes a pair of aviation-themed leggings help, too.
Katherine S. Stafford is a freelance writer, aviation enthusiast, aspiring pilot, and nurse. She has been published in General Aviation News and Aviation for Women magazine and is a Women in Aviation International member. She is an avid follower of Hera Aviation Group, Podcasting on a Plane, Pilot to Pilot, and Lady Aviators amongst other aviation digital media. You can find her somewhere in California with her family. You can follow her aviation adventures at: https://plane-and-pen.wixsite.com/aviationblog.