I met Cecilie Larsen on line and one day received an email that she was coming to Seattle for 24 hours. What? She must be traveling with a flight crew. But she wasn't. She took advantage of a good deal, and purchased a round trip ticket to Seattle. She was traveling by herself. My plan was to have her over for dinner and the next day take her to the Seattle Museum of Flight. Unfortunately scheduling called a couple days earlier and I arrived from Amsterdam the same day she arrived... and needed sleep. So I drove her to her hotel downtown, and picked her up the next afternoon to take her to her return flight home. The adventure of the city would be on her own.
As we drove down I-5, headed to the airport, I pointed out the gorgeous view of Boeing field, looked at my watch and then said, "Do you have time to at least do a drive by?" And that's what we did. We didn't get inside the museum, but good things take time. We got pictures.
So please meet Cecilie, a dedicated and adventurous woman following her dreams.
Karlene: Your love of flight and aviation is apparent. When did this passion begin?
Cecilie: "I have always been fascinated by airplanes. I can't remember my first flight (what a shame) because I was only 5 months old. Tower Air took me and my parents from Oslo, Norway to Miami, Florida in the 747-200. After that, I've had numerous trips around Europe and to the US. I'm the type of girl who turns her head toward the sky every time she hears an airplane. Fascination, passion and enthusiasm fuels my love for aviation."
Karlene: There was a time that you decided to become a commercial pilot and headed to America to make that happen. Can you tell me about that adventure?
Cecilie: "It wasn't really until I was maybe 14 or 15 that I decided that I wanted to become a commercial pilot. No one in my family are pilots, so I didn't really know where to start looking for flight schools. Thanks to the internet, I could narrow my search down to a few, very good schools, all which were located in the US.
"In October 2010 I embarked on my biggest adventure thus far, moving to Florida to start flying. What a better place to go flying than the Sunshine State. It was an exciting time for me, and in less than six months I went from 0 hours to my private pilot license and instrument rating, graduating with 80 hours in my logbook."
Karlene: What happened with school in Florida?
Cecilie: "Unfortunately, things happen and plans change. Illness in my family, plus some other factors, made me put my flying career into a holding pattern. I moved to Norway in July 2011, but my plan is to start training for my commercial license in October/November 2013."
Karlene: I'm excited you're coming back to the U.S. for your flight training. But why here? Why not in Europe?
Cecilie: "I choose to do my flight training in the US, rather than Europe based on a few different things. Expenses is one of them, and secondly I want to become a Certified Flight Instructor. CFI is a very good thing, because it doesn't just allow for building flight time and experience, but I will also be able to share my love and passion for flying to anyone."
Karlene: You've been sharing your passion of flying with many through your blog, and your photos with me. I also know you have a couple pictures that are extra special.
Cecilie: "The first one is a night flight, and I did an ILS into MCO (Orlando Intl') - you can see runway 18R in the middle of the picture. I expected to be cleared for a low approach, but tower actually cleared me for a touch'n'go! Awesome experience! (picture 18R at MCO.jpg)
18R at MCO
"My first solo flight! First solo is probably that one flight a pilot will never forget. I did mine on March 14, 2011."
Karlene: Solo flights are always memorable, can you tell us about yours?
Cecilie: "I was so nervous, but once I got into my airplane, a Cirrus (N610DA) everything else fell into place. I did 3 laps in the traffic pattern with my instructor next to me, and after 3 perfect landings, he climbed out of the airplane, and it was just me, the Cirrus and a few thousand feet of runway. As I applied full power, I just smiled. I couldn't think of a better feeling, than when I pulled the side stick and climbed out. I was smiling through the entire flight. All around the traffic pattern. It was the greatest feeling of accomplishment."
Karlene: You should be very proud of your accomplishments so far. The big question is, where do you want to take this aviation bug?
Cecilie: "After I've been flight instructing for a year or so, I will convert my FAA licenses to JAA (European) licenses. Before I started my training and invested time and money into my dream, I decided to go for a JAA First Class medical examination. I passed, and that way I know my health, vision and other things are good enough for the high standards Joint Aviation Regulations (JAR) have for their medical licenses. My dream is to fly for a major airline in Europe, ultimately. I know I have to accept other jobs until that time comes around. When it comes to type of aircraft, I have always considered myself a "busgirl". I love the 330s and 340s. That changed, however, very recently. I went to Seattle and got to stand face to face with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. My dream now is with the Dreamliner."
Cecilie: "Between me and that dream, I know there will be many obstacles and struggles. I have already overcome some of them. Let's start with one obvious one. English is not my native language, Norwegian is. Even though I've had English in school since 2nd grade, and spent my senior year in high school in Nebraska as an exchange student, none of that prepared me for the technical language of aviation. With me during my study sessions, was the FAR-AIM (of course, any pilot's Bible) – and – a dictionary. It was necessary for me, so I could really understand what the books were all about.
Training in the US as a foreigner can be a little complicated. F-1, I-20, I-94 will all be very well-known terms after a while. There are many rules regulating what is legal, what I can do, when I can do it, and the list just goes on."
Karlene: I couldn't imagine training in a foreign country. My hat is off to you. What was your greatest struggle during flight training?
Cecilie: "When it comes to struggles during my flight training, I was a bit overwhelmed when I first started flying under instrument conditions (simulated or actual) A lot of things were going on at the same time. My instructor said I was too hard on myself. I expected “perfect” every time and got disappointed when that didn't turn out to be the case. I guess it is generally a good thing, but in the long run you just keep striving for the impossible."
Karlene: Pilots do expect perfection, and we wouldn't want it any other way. So that is not a bad trait, as long as you keep striving and never get there. So tell me why you are training in the US and not at home.
Cecilie: "As I mentioned earlier, I chose to do my flight training in the US rather than Norway. One of the reasons being the cost of renting planes, fuel and even a fee for landing at every airport. And besides, not a lot beats flying in the busy Orlando airspace at night, watching the Disney World fireworks from above."
Orlando by night
Karlene: Some of the most amazing sights are in a plane, and the Orlando airspace sounds fun. With all the fun aside, you and I have been commenting and blogging on the state of the industry. Tell me what you think the future will hold.
Cecilie: "So where will this “crazy” field of aviation be in the future? No one knows. But am I optimistic? Yes, most definitely! I've met so many great aviators-in-the-making, on my journey so far, and they are in it for the right reasons. I know they have the right mindset to succeed."
Karlene: You definitely have the right mindset to be a pilot. Not many people will fly to a foreign country for 24 hours. But seriously... I have been asked how I could promote aviation to young people when the state of the industry is in such chaos. Then I go and write about novel about it. As you know there are many messages, but one is to our pilots of the future. What did you take away from my novel, Flight For Control?
Cecilie: "I think the current state of aviation proves to everyone that things need to change, whether that's on the airline level or the Federal level. And who can change things? Young people! I really feel empowered by the story in “Flight For Control” - I have the control. I know that by knowing my own limitations, I can change things to the better. Working to improve lives of all people working in the aviation industry is one of my main goals in life.
After reading “Flight For Control” I feel even more excited to continue on with my flight training. I want to prove to everyone that things can change, and I hope the next generation of aviators can bring that change with them!
Does it mean living the dream at all cost? No.
But making a few compromises along the way? Sure!
Karlene: Cecilie, you most definitely have what it takes to succeed. You get it ~ You are the future of aviation. With passion and conviction and a willingness to not settle for anything less than perfection, and your determination to make the industry safe, will carry you far. Yes, there will be compromises, but with integrity you will never compromise safety. I'm looking forward to flying with you one day. Thank you for a wonderful interview.
Please take a moment to visit Cecilie's Aviation Blog. Her writing is beautiful, and if you enter the contest, you may just win a book signing event in your town. Where in the world will I go? Maybe Norway.
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Enjoy the Journey!