New Beginnings

Running into my first flight instructor at a Christmas party on the eve of my employment with _Flying _sparked memories from my early flying days.

The flight school where I completed most of my flight training and where I instructed for nearly two years is called Justice Aviation. Every year, Justice and a few other businesses at Santa Monica Airport host a Christmas party - an event I always attend to catch up with friends and former coworkers.

This year, having just arrived in Los Angeles from a trip to Orlando, I arrived at the end of the event. As I walked in, Joe and Sharon Justice were moving plates, food and drinks, and sweeping the large hangar floor. Most people had, unfortunately, already gone home for the night. But there was one person still there who made my visit particularly special and worthwhile, despite the exhaustion of my journey. His name is Jason Van Camp and I hadn’t seen him for years.

Jason was my very first flight instructor and I’ll never forget our first flight together. On a clear, still fall afternoon, we climbed into a Cessna 152. I was surprised to learn it had a name - N94838 - and it had parts and pieces that were completely foreign to me, even the basics such as throttle, rudder pedals, and yoke. Jason appeared to speak a different language, one I was unsure that I would be able to speak.

But Jason was extremely patient and spent a lot of extra time with me in the cockpit, before and after the flight, to make me feel comfortable. That flight transformed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I’ve learned a lot about aircraft components, aerodynamics, weather, engines, instruments and flight planning. And when I had an opportunity to pass on that knowledge, it was incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I have befriended a lot of wonderful people. And the continuous developments in aircraft design and avionics make my job fascinating.

The experiences I’ve had in aviation have made me smile and laugh, sweat and cry, and sometimes scared the daylights out of me. I’ve learned the language, and when I had an opportunity last week to spend some time at Boeing in the cockpit of the Douglas designed C-17, one of the largest aircraft ever built, it even felt somewhat familiar. There were throttles, rudder pedals and yokes.

While Jason's and my careers followed completely different paths – his in airline and charter flight, mine in general aviation – the kinship we developed from that first critical training remains strong. It was wonderful seeing him and his beautiful wife and son, and I was happy that they were the first people I was able to share my good news with. I had just landed a dream job – Senior Editor for Flying magazine. Now I look forward to many years of continued learning and sharing my experiences with the readers of Flying.