Flying is an incredible hobby… I think about the other things I do like fishing and golfing for example. While relaxing, they are ordinary in nature, I mean unless you are incredibly skilled at either, then it is more of a sport than a leisurely activity. Both activities require, mental skill, whether realized or not, the how to approach each golf shot and the when exactly to set the hook or slack the line in fishing are both skills developed over time.
Conversely, flying is an activity that requires a much higher state of mental activity throughout the operation, which instead of leaving a pilot drained at the end of a flight, leaves the pilot refreshed and invigorated! Sure we’ve all had tiring flights, I remember landing in St. Louis around 2:00am after departing from Mansfield, MA around noon the prior day… I was tired, no doubt about it. But the trip was exciting in the moment and in the days the followed my return trip from the 2009 National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship event.
Many pilots fly for work, but not all pilots do. A large number of pilots fly for recreational reasons. These pilots take to the skies for adventure, relaxation and enjoyment of an incredible hobby! When I first thought about this post, about the hobby of flying, I knew almost immediately who I wanted to talk to about their flying. I know SHE is a great example of a private pilot who flies for fun and holds the hobby of flight in a special regard.
By day, Janelle Walsh is a financial analyst for Raytheon, a massive aerospace and defense company. An avid snowboarder, Janelle enjoys the occasional flight from time to time during the warmer weather.
I first met Janelle a number of years ago for a refresher flight. She was a renter pilot at KING Aviation-Mansfield and even though she was current and proficient, she preferred to go with a flight instructor when she went up for the first time in a “while”… Something she still believes in!
Our flight together was short and sweet as I recall, she demonstrated very good airmanship and for someone who learned on a “glass panel” cockpit, she did very well with the “old-fashioned” six-pack instruments in the Cessna 172 we were flying. After some maneuvers and some very good landings we taxied in and Janelle was flying again with friends and family!
Years prior, while in high school, Janelle developed an interest in flying and during her sophomore year at Foxboro High School she visited KING and took a discovery flight, which she thoroughly enjoyed! In the years that followed she remained interested in flying and attended an ACE (Aviation Career Education) Camp at Daniel Webster College one summer. When it came time to select a college and a possible career field, she selected Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL.
As a freshman at Embry-Riddle, she took to the skies working towards a private pilot certificate. Following an action packed freshman year, she returned home to Massachusetts for the summer and finished her flight training. In August 2011, Janelle earned her private pilot certificate in a G-1000 Cessna Skyhawk from the KING Aviation-Mansfield fleet!
When she returned to school, her interest in the future was changing and she began to realize that later on in life living in Massachusetts and not travelling every week would be a priority and much better than a life on the road as a professional pilot, in her opinion. Switching majors to business, with a minor in air traffic control, Janelle remained interested in aviation and more importantly, continued to fly.
Unfortunately there are too many pilots that begin learning to fly as a vocation and earn a license before switching intended career fields, very similar to the vast number of recreational learners who earn licenses, and don’t fly after earning their ticket. A phenomenon, which, while it seems strange to those of us who do fly, isn’t that unreasonable… The cost of flying recreational is high, not just for the aircraft rental but also the supplies, and having the ability to fly regularly enough to stay proficient. Pilots who aren’t “all in” may not fly because of these perceived barriers.
Since earning her license, Janelle has continued to fly. At first in Florida while there for school and now in New England since moving back up north after graduating! Like this author, she didn’t fly much this winter, compliments of the harshest winter on record in the area, but when we sat down to talk in the beginning of June, she was anxiously explaining how she hopes to get back in the air soon and what she might be doing!
Prior to the onset of the snow and bone-chilling cold New England winter this past year; her last flight was with a couple of her friends. Janelle rented an airplane from KING and flew from Mansfield up towards the Gardner/Orange, Massachusetts area to view the fall foliage in the hilly north/central portion of the state. A perfect example of something a private pilot can do, which is (among pilots) very normal, yet to those outside of the aviation world, a “flight-seeing” trip to enjoy the fall foliage seems like something out of reach…
Pilots like Janelle keep aviation alive. The recreational pilots that “go up” just to enjoy the day and get some air under their wings make up the majority of the pilot population and we as an aviation community need as many of these pilots flying as possible! So remember, being a private pilot, flying to see the foliage or visit a new airport restaurant is something truly incredible to the rest of the world, even if it seems normal to us as pilots!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9