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April 05. 2014 12:11AM

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: If I can do it, so can you


Christopher Thompson is joined by his daughter, Rayna, in the cockpit after his first solo flight at the Nashua Municipal Airport. (COURTESY)


 

This week, I'm going to share something personal. I hope people who can relate to what I'm about to share will learn from my experience and take it upon themselves to do, what I was in a way, forced to do. Trust me, it's worth it.

We all have things we are good at. We all also have things we are absolutely horrible at. I am a major failure when it comes to pursuing my personal passions and dreams. I'm not good at making time for myself to do the things I enjoy. And I know I'm not alone. I talk to countless people who share this fault.

In my early adult life, I developed an interest in flying airplanes. It's been something I've been intrigued by, and the desire has grown over the last several years. I took an intro flight with a flight instructor about 10 years ago, but as usual, I used the "I'm too busy" excuse as a reason not to pursue it further.

This all changed when my wife bought me a pilot headset and a pilot bag last Christmas. My wife knows me well and knows my faults. She knows I need a big push to work on my weakness. She knew what it would take, and when I saw the gifts I knew I was doomed. Now I had no choice. It was time for me to follow my dream and make it happen. So I did.

In January, I signed up for flight school with East Coast Aero Club in Nashua, and started flight lessons to work towards my private pilot license. It's safe to say, I've found my passion and have put everything into it. While it's a major time and financial commitment, it's worth every minute and every dollar.

Within two months, I logged enough flight time with Josh Kegan, my flight instructor and honed my skills to the point where I was able to qualify to fly my first solo. No passengers are allowed. Just me. No instructor.

After about 18 hours of instruction and flying with Josh, I was alone in the airplane and taxiing towards the runway. I performed all of the pre-flight procedures, got take off clearance from the tower and hit the skies. Two of my close friends came to witness the scene and found a spot at the beginning of the runway to cheer me on. One happens to be a pilot with United Airlines and has more than 20,000 flight hours. No pressure. Yeah right.

The situation I was in didn't seem surreal, until I looked over toward my instructor and saw an empty seat. This was the real thing. Fortunately, my training took over, and I completed four successful takeoffs and landings on my own.

The reality of the experience didn't hit me until I landed for the last time and headed toward the area where I had to park the airplane. That's where I saw my wife and my daughter. I wasn't expecting to see them. They surprised me and showed up to witness my first solo flight.

When the engine came to a full stop, they came running over to the plane, and my daughter jumped into the passenger seat with a big smile on her face. I noticed my wife with a smile almost as big as mine.

Deep down, she knew this special moment was due in large part to her helping me recognize the importance of following my dreams. The feeling I had at this moment is something I will never forget. And for that, I couldn't me more thankful.

I still have a lot of work to do to get my pilot's license, but I'm about halfway through. For me, flying an airplane by myself for the first time made the dream seem real. This may not be a big deal to most. But I wanted to share this story to illustrate the importance of making time for yourself and following your dreams and passions. I happen to be someone who needed a push to make it happen. It's my hope that this story will be enough of a reason for you to do it on your own.

Life is short. We all work hard every day. Don't be like me and wait for someone to push you to follow your dreams. You may not be as lucky as me to have someone force and encourage you.



Christopher Thompson (cthompson@catch22solutions.com) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News. Thompson is the vice president of sales and services for Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft on the web at skillsoft.com.


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