Friday's Fabulous Flyer
Yesterday, my friend, Rick Watson, just me some great news, and I'm honored to share his story with you. Rick lost his medical. He was grounded. For anyone who doesn't fly, you might not understand what that means to heart and soul of a pilot. To those of us where the sky is our home, we need that license to fly. Then he found his way back into the sky, but only to lose his medical again. Rick never lost sight of his passion, and he never gave up. He found a way to not only keep his passion alive, but to take it to far reaching heights! Please enjoy Rick's story.
"Never lose sight of your dreams
and feed your passion."
"My journey began longer ago than I can remember, to fly was all I ever wanted to do, 28 years ago at age19 I strapped my self into a Hughes 269 (Yes I started on Choppers) and why not, they were fun to fly. I took to it like a duck to water, the following year I converted to fixed wing flying Piper Cherokees and Warriors soloing in 2 hours, along the way I flew a myriad of different types and makes including Gliders and Gyrocopters, then it happened, as quick as lightening...
I blew my eardrum, now on the great scheme of things this doesn't sound like a huge medical disaster, however for me it was just the start of a HUGE journey of faith. I lost my medical while the professionals delved into the problem, 2 operations later I was on the mend, I had a 5 year hiatus while things healed, I was now married and had 2 wonderful children.
Time and money was a factor, however it did give my ear chance to heal, I started to feel the pull of my home again, so I started to fly with others to ease into it, I was able to do quite a bit of flying even some aerobatics with the Royal New Zealand Airforce the time felt right, by this stage a few more years had gone by, I was now divorced and living with a new partner so it was time for new beginnings, In 2008 I decided to do my multi-engined instrument rating, I passed my commercial medical (Yay first hurdle cleared) I passed my exams (2nd one done) and was back in the air, my home, my comfort zone.....
I was on a turning descent with an instructor on board when I felt the same ear let go again... this time I had managed to dislodge the drum from the membrane behind it and it stretched the nerves that help carry the sound to the Cochlea... That was it, medical gone again and I was grounded........ The thing is I have never lost my passion for aviation through the ups and downs, it is my addiction, my guilty pleasure, so I never stopped looking up.
Roll forward to November 2011, another new beginning. A move to Thames, Coromandel, New Zealand. What a beautiful part of the country, great walks, awesome fishing, just paradise. I trucked along as you do before the call was strong again.. I thought well If I can't fly for real I am going to find a decent simulator, in late 2012 I purchased a twin engine simulator based on a Beech aircraft which I configured to fly the 1900D, many hours were spent flying all around NZ, I loved it but my love of aircraft was too strong, so like many I sought out the local flying club.
I was talking to the instructor and he asked if I wanted to go for a fly, now that was like asking junkie if he wanted a free hit, the best part was he let me do the flying, I was home again, I felt at ease and best of all no pain in my ear, the best part I was informed that I would have no problems passing my medical, how can this be I thought, well as fortune would have it the plane I was flying was a Tecnam P2002 Sierra a high performance sport aircraft, classified in NZ as a Microlight!
The medical is the same as if I wanted to drive a bus, it's a recreational license, designed for experienced pilots who can no longer obtain the stringent GA medicals BRILLIANT. I joined the club and was voted in as the Club Captain, I was now right seating with other club members to fly ins around the country as well as left seating with an instructor to get my rating. I passed all my exams again and I am once again a qualified pilot holding an advanced passenger rated license for high performance sport aircraft at the age of 47. One hell of a journey but I never lost sight of my goal, I am currently working through my instructors rating and purchase of my own aircraft so I can share my passion.
I am now a qualified flight instructor
I will be heading to Rick's backyard one day, and would be honored to take a flight lesson with him. For now, please join me in thanking Rick for sharing his story of hope and inspiration. We all need a little hope in our lives, that there is a rainbow at the end of the storm. This is what stories are made of.