Today when I was in Trader Joe's I saw an older man wearing this cool old Piper jacket. It made me smile thinking that he was probably a pilot and he had that shirt when it was new. That style of jacket is from the 60s, I have one that a friend gave me and never wear it because it is dear to me.
In the check out line, he was behind me and I couldn't help but start up a conversation with him. I noticed he had a small tremor in his hands when he spoke and told me he was an "ole timer" and didn't fly anymore. He asked me if I flew Multi engine and I told him that I had the rating as a pilot but not as an instructor. It is a social situation that I love, when two pilots meet. It almost always starts with something the person is wearing or maybe some aviaiton term that has crept into that persons normal conversation.
Reminds me of a clean pilot joke.
Q: How do you know if there is a pilot in the room
A: He will tell you.
Pilots and student pilots come from so many backgrounds. I think most pilots no matter when they started have always had the love of flying in them but maybe didn't know how to start the process, it could have been for financial reasons or hundreds of other reasons. I am lucky to have started it when I was young and continue to love all things about flying 23 years later. I have a student who often says things like "why don't more people fly?" or he flies very early in the day and sometimes says "what a way to start the day-flying!" I agree, I never get sick of it and that is part of the fun of flying is your fellow pilots feel the same and are often more than willing to talk about it. It is something that gets into your blood.
As I was saying goodbye to the gentleman in Trader Joe's he gave me some advise "keep the stick steady and have a Merry Christmas". I noticed his tremors again, and thought to myself that he really missed flying but has a life time of amazing memories.
It is hard to find the time in our busy schedules to realize our dreams but it is SOworth it