This is not a post about marriage. This is not a post about being a wife. This is a post about what it’s like to support and love someone who’s head is always above the clouds.
He has always been a dreamer, my dear husband. Dreams about building a life free from corporate business suits and from mediocrity. So when he told me that he had always wanted to become a pilot, together we worked on a plan.
I’m now a pilot’s wife.
Unless you learned how to fly through military service or received a degree in aviation, becoming a pilot involves taking on a hefty student loan. We learned his loan application had been approved. He was set to start flight school the same week we learned our family crew was growing by one; the same semester I started on my master’s program.
So here we are, about three years post our lives having been completely changed, and these are some of life’s lesson I have learned by being a pilot’s wife.
Note: my husband currently works in general aviation for a flight school, not as an airline pilot. For those who speak aviation, he is a CFI/I and MEI.
Part of the flight school curriculum where my husband attended required building flight time and that was done by flying long, cross-country flights. On these flights, the crew has to be prepared for weather changes. Being safe means being flexible. My husband always packed an overnight bag when he flew longer flights.
It was just three months after our son was born when I learned flexibility was key. I had just started back at work. My husband left for a long flight headed for Bowling Green, Kentucky. What started as a two-day trip turned into a week’s long delay because of storms and low clouds that lingered over Kentucky. I learned very quickly how to be a mom of a newborn, a graduate student, a full-time working employee, and a wife of a pilot by initiation. This prepared me for when he was gone for three weeks in Phoenix, Arizona, (baby now six months old) and taking an instructor job in San Marcos, Texas, for four months (baby now 10-13 months old).
Being safe means being flexible, and being flexible is key in the world of aviation.
Three years later and the same is true while the reverse is also true. There are days when my husband plans to fly for his work, and I prepare my mind to be interim single-parent, and then he doesn’t fly out. The cloud height or the wind speed whether here or there prevents him from flying. My mindset has to change again. Flexibility is the name of the game.
There’s still something about flying in a small airplane that causes my anxiety levels to rise. This results in my hands feeling heavy, my body feeling hot, and my heart rate increasing to workout levels. Remaining calm is something I work on each time I go up in the air.
However, the opposite is true for my husband. Flying an airplane is just another day in the office. The first time he asked to take me up in the air with him as the pilot, I politely declined as I didn’t feel like being swept off my feet while several months pregnant. The second time he asked, I nervously agreed but trusted him fully. It was Valentine’s Day 2020, and we flew down to Austin for dinner and back again the same night. In July 2020, we took our son in his first flight with Daddy as the pilot (see picture). I don’t think my son even knew we were flying, but I felt every turn and counted down the minutes to our arrival destination. Our latest flight was in June 2021 when we flew down to Georgetown, Texas, for a weekend with the family. My solution to calm my nerves . . . fly more until flying becomes normal.
One of the most common questions I get as a pilot’s wife: Do I ever worry when my husband is flying? The quick reflex answer would be yes, but the more honest answer is only slightly.
Flying is his third love, after his faith, myself, and our son. To date he has spent close to 600 hours flying, not to mention the hundreds of cumulative hours on the ground learning, reading, and engaging in all things aviation. To trust always means to trust that he knows what he is doing and what the airplane is doing at all times.
Is there a risk every time he goes up? Yes, but there is also the same risk, if not greater, every time he drives a car. As his wife, I support him and trust him much more than I worry for him.
Pursue Your Dreams
“Wait . . . what,” was the most common response accompanying jaws falling to the ground and eyes blinking rapidly trying to process the sentence we had just spoken. “We bought a plane,” we said again, this time a little slower for clarification.
In fairness, it’s not every day you know of someone who owns a plane. However, in the aviation community, buying a plane is regarded the same as buying your first car. It’s a right of passage. Over a short timeframe, my husband has become a fully certified pilot, taught several lessons, was a director of a flight school, which now he oversees the school’s information systems, and has bought a plane.
Yet still he dreams. He dreams of the adventures we will go on while we chase the horizon. He dreams of the memories that will be made when we immerse ourselves during week-long aviation events. He dreams of teaching our son to fly and the hours they will spend bonding while they build an airplane, piece by piece. He dreams of living in an air park neighborhood where planes land and take off in the backyard. Still, he dreams, and still, we work together to make those dreams a reality.
For this was not a post about being a “good” or “supportive” wife. This was a post about what it is like being married to a pilot. How being flexible, trusting, and always being a dreamer can lead you on an adventure greater than you could have ever imagined.
How your perspective changes and how clear the world becomes when your head is always above the clouds.
Be kind. Be safe. Be you.