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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Aidan Lally Flying Strong

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Aidan Lally

This week I received an email from Aidan that began like this...

"In April of 2018 when I was a Junior in high school, my parents and I were traveling from Seattle to Paris on Delta for a family trip to Europe. While waiting at the gate for boarding to begin, I saw the Flight Crew arriving and immediately recognized you. As a frequent reader of your blog, I enthusiastically introduced myself and you took the time to speak with me for a few minutes before heading down to the aircraft."

This trip was very special and memorable to me, and I remember Aidan and I talking. This was my first trip on the B777 after OE, having not flown for two years, and he reminded me of all the good things about aviation and what it truly meant to have the honor to fly he and his family to Paris. 

Aidan told me, "At the time in 2018, I knew I was going to college for Commercial Aviation. However, I was undecided between the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue my collegiate Aviation education after high school."

Then he fast forwarded us to today! 

Aidan said, "Following graduation from Olympia High School in June 2019, I earned my Private Pilot (ASEL) Certificate at Olympia Regional Airport. After touring and feeling instantly connected with the campus/program, I ultimately decided to attend the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences double majoring in Commercial Aviation and Aviation Management. That was one of the best decisions I've ever made."

"UND graciously allowed us to continue flight training over the Summer in Grand Forks with appropriate PPE in the aircraft. As a matter of fact, I just completed my Summer Flight Course a few weeks ago!"

Aidan Lally grew up in Olympia, Washington, and travels often with his family. Added to his busy scheduled, he is also an Eagle Scout. In addition to holding his Private Pilot certificate (with privileges in Airplane Single Engine Land) he holds a Remote Pilot certificate for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. I was curious as to what inspired him to fly, what he thinks of UND, the challenges in our current environment, and any words of wisdom he could share. Following are his most insightful answers. 

What inspired you to fly?

"Like many others, my aviation journey began long before I can remember. Even as a six year old, I wanted to be a pilot. My Halloween costume was a homemade, cardboard box airplane and my favorite stuffed bear “Toasty” was co-pilot. Also, having the opportunity to travel with my parents, the “aviation bug” bit me early."

"Being around airplanes, learning as much as I could about flying, meeting pilots, spending time listening to SeaTac ATC, and one particular flight deck tour when I was in sixth grade, led me to pursue a career in aviation. Growing up, all the pilots I met seemed to have one thing in common: They all loved flying. Whether as a passenger or visiting the flight deck, I was inspired to fly because of my love for being in the air. Flying an airplane is an incredible experience!"

What do you love about UND?

"Choosing to study Commercial Aviation at University of North Dakota Aerospace is one of the best decisions I've ever made. UND is a special place for so many reasons. Small class sizes, an exceptional flight program, inspirational professors with years of aviation experience, positive liberal arts/Essential Studies professors, and a supportive, kind community are just a few reasons why I love UND. There is something for everyone on campus!"

How is your education at the University of North Dakota preparing you for your career?

"UND Aerospace combines airline style training and Essential Studies coursework into a comprehensive degree program. At UND, I am working towards earning my Commercial Pilot (ASEL, AMEL, Instrument Airplane) and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI/CFII) certificates. I hope to have the privilege of Flight Instructing at UND Aerospace while inspiring students and working towards R-ATP minimums for the next step in my career."

COVID-19 and College

"COVID-19 has impacted my college experience. From the classroom (Spring semester’s distance learning from home), to on-campus (masks while flying), one’s ability to change and be flexible are even more important now. I am hopeful that I’m early enough in my education that I will be well prepared when I graduate to meet the needs and challenges of the aviation community."

Any favorite aviation memories?

"I have too many to count! That's what makes aviation so special. However, three specific “firsts” come to mind:

  • Earning my Private Pilot Certificate at Olympia Regional Airport with DPE (and UND graduate!) Travis Baker.
  • As a Private Pilot, flying with my first passenger - my mom. (Thanks Mom!)
  • Receiving my acceptance letter to UND Aerospace.

"Thanks Mom!"

Aidan's Advice to Future Flyers

"Inspiring the next generation of aviators and sharing the joy of flight with others is one of my favorite parts of being a pilot. If I could offer advice to aspiring pilots, I would say:

  • Prioritize your academics. At UND, I spend a lot of time studying. However, that hard work does pay off! Being well rounded is important, too. For example, in addition to our aviation core curriculum, we can choose to take courses in everything from accounting to music appreciation in order to earn a degree.
  • Be an involved member of the aviation community.
  • “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” My parents taught me this saying many years ago. Always have a plan and do your best to stick to it. 
  • Learn new things! Have other hobbies, activities and interests in addition to flying. I also enjoy backpacking, road cycling, and hiking.
  • Reach out, and have mentors.
  • Give your best effort.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether in training or coursework, I have found that my professors and mentors are happy to share their knowledge and expertise with me.
  • Set goals for yourself and remain flexible. 
  • Most importantly, as Karlene always says, “Enjoy the Journey!” Aviation is truly a day by day adventure, where you never stop learning. Appreciate today, the little things, and you'll be on your way. I feel overjoyed and blessed to be a pilot living my childhood dream!"

Aidan is the blessing to this tumultuous world we live in today. He shows us that there is hope, inspiration and a future beyond any challenge. What Aidan may not know is that his sharing this story, will impact another. His kind message at the end of his first email to me, touched my heart more than he will know. Aidan wrote... 

"You never quite know how a simple interaction with someone can make such a big impact. Your kindness to speak with me on that day in 2018 helped bring me to where I am today. I'm inspired, blessed, overjoyed to be a pilot. And, I thank you."  

Join me in wishing 
Aidan the best career ever!

Remember to share your story 
and inspire someone today!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Hi, Aidan. This is probably the best Friday Flyer I've read in years (I've been following Karlene's blog for 9 years). I absolutely endorse your advice to future flyers and would also include senior flyers to exercise your advice. Always stay put to your integrity in the business and practice internal social leadership and have Karlene as a strong role model for you.

    Karlene, thank you for setting an incredible example to the future flyers. I'm 25 now, but since I was 15, you've been a role model to me just like you are to Aidan. Thank you.

    1. Alex, Thank you so very much for your kind comment! I can't believe we first spoke 10 years ago. But you are an amazing man filled with integrity. We need more people like you and Aidan in our industry as leaders. Both of you are role models for the rest of us. Stay strong during trying times!

  2. Serendipity indeed! I admire that you are already paying it forward. Keep flying strong.

  3. Aiden, you are an amazing young man and I am blessed to know you.

    All the best as you continue in your journey. Fly high and make us proud.

    Kimberly Lally

  4. I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read

    Aviation Blogger


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