Then there are those who came to flying later in life after a long and twisted path. I've always been surprised at the number of pilots for whom aviation is a second or third career. The significant investment in flight training, the lengthy time-building process, and the pay and instability in the early stages are hard enough to take on as a young person just starting out; to accept these conditions while leaving an established nonflying career must require rather powerful motivation indeed. Over the years I've flown with former engineers, computer techs, nurses, teachers, farmers and accountants, and I've found some common themes. One is strong dissatisfaction with their former profession; boredom seems to be the most frequent culprit. "I reached a point where even thinking about going into the office made me physically ill," a former software developer told me. Another is smoldering childhood dreams of flight laid aside for financial, practical or familial considerations. Frequently, the former job financed a flying hobby, but this only inflamed the desire to fly professionally. "I realized that the flights in my Mooney were the happiest moments of my life," confided a former mechanical engineer. It was natural for him to ditch a humdrum vocation for a cherished avocation.