As I reached my 1250 R-ATP milestone, I reflected back on my journey. At one point, I was a freshly certified private pilot with only 60 hours. The day I would reach 1250 seemed unimaginable - and most certainly intangible.
I’m not going to lie and say it went by in the blink of an eye. Looking back now, it did, but I remember the years, months, and even weeks leading up to it. Would that day ever come?
Sure enough, it did. (And it was even on a flight with a student that also happens to be female, who I’ve formed a close bond with ).
If I could go back and tell myself one thing now that I have reached this milestone (and can take a deep breath because I know I will certainly make my class date – ha!) is that good things come with time. There were plenty of times on the tougher days that I felt discouraged. All of my friends who didn’t pursue aviation (and even some that did pursue aviation) were off in cities with their big girl jobs. Why wasn’t I there yet?
After each flight, I anxiously re-totaled my flight time. While I did enjoy it, I ultimately made it a chore.
I still wouldn’t change a thing about my pace, kicking it in high gear was what I wanted to do, knowing that I would have to sacrifice some of my social life. But what has also served as a “light at the end of the tunnel” was the fact that I would have some downtime in between reaching my hours and starting my airline training. The break is needed, and I feel as if I truly earned it.
I have heard my fair share of comments about how “when I am sitting on reserve and everyone else holds a line, I won’t like my month-long break,” but what I can tell you is this: I’m not one to back down a promise to myself. I made a commitment to have some R&R once I finished my hours and instructing, and by goodness, I will do it.
My passengers and the aviation community need refreshed pilots who have their passion still ignited – not burnt out.
In all, I write this to serve as a reminder that it is OK to take some time for yourself, too. In order to put your best foot forward and serve others, you have to take care of yourself, first.
Mattie is a CFI/CFII and a Graduate Research Assistant at Auburn University, where she is pursuing an M.Ed. in Adult Education. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.