You Can Fly, You Can Fly, You Can Fly!

To top off my birthday celebration, I decided to finally start something I’ve wanted to do since I was about 16.  In high school, my AP Chemistry teacher took a more involved approach with the 15 of us in the double period class.  She acted as our mentors and insisted we have plans for our futures.  My plan was to go to space.  It still is.  I’ll get there.  Eventually.  Anyway, when I told her this, she told me I needed a backup plan.  I fought this concept for a while.  I didn’t need a backup.  I’m going to space.  But she fought back too.  So I came up with my backup plan.  I was going to fly helicopters for the Coast Guard.  I remember telling my teacher this and getting a concerned look.  Apparently flying helicopters for the military in general wasn’t a feasible backup plan.  But she went with that.  I’ve wanted to fly helicopters ever since.  And on Saturday, I achieved that goal.  Well.  I started the path to get there.  I FLEW A HELICOPTER!!!
20151024_073359This helicopter, actually!  The Robinson R22 – room enough for two.  And I did it in Hawaii!  While the views were phenomenal and I wold have loved to take some to share, I was a little busy.  FLYING!!!  I’m a little jaded when it comes to flying.  Between my brother having his pilot’s license before his driver’s license and going to a school where half the students can fly,  it’s fun, but it’s not a HUGE deal that people can take aircraft out and give themselves aerial tours.  But flying this bird all on my own today was remarkable.  OK.  Let me be clear.  I was not alone in a helicopter for the 3rd time I’ve ever been in one.  I had an instructor and everything.

When you decide to fly one of these epic creations, you can do a discovery or introductory flight.  Basically, a certified flight instructor gets you into the air and then they hand the controls over to you.  Daniel, my instructor for the morning, was extremely instructional (as you could only hope!!) and made the transition flawlessly.  He even pretended not to be terrified as I dipped the nose a little too far when I first took the cyclic.  I was pretty scared.  Among many other encounters.  Actually there weren’t too many crazy maneuvers happening.  I think I did pretty well.  Daniel kept asking me if I had ever flown before.  Sure, I’ve played around a little in a Cessna and some  simulators, but never anything for a helicopter. So that’s a good thing, right?  I was impressed with my performance.  Granted, I have nothing to compare it to, but I think it went well.

We took off from Honolulu International Airport, and pretty much as soon as we were at 900 ft, Daniel passed the controls over to me.  He did some correcting as we headed west, following the H1, but mostly let me do the flying.  HOW AWESOME!!!  It was weird.  I was so nervous!  But it was amazing and wonderful at the same time.  For nearly a decade I’d wanted to fly one of these things and there I was!  We, well Daniel, “landed” at Kalaeloa Airport and headed out of the way to give it a go at hovering.  Yeah, I was terrible at it.  As Daniel said: “It’s like the Matrix; even the Chosen One doesn’t get it the first time.”  No better truth!  But I did manage to pretty much stay in the same spot for about ten seconds after the first six failed attempts.  Ten seconds isn’t long, but it seemed like it!

We made our way back to HNL and I felt much more comfortable with the controls on the way back.  I did some circles, got excited I could see my apartment, flew over my ship/office (that was super cooled and sparked the conversation of ‘How much trouble would we be in if we landed on her?’), and then landed back where we started.  0.9 hours of flying!!!!  My life is AWESOME!  So now my biggest problem is finding the time to learn everything I possibly can to fly the R22 all on my own.  And some money.  I might have to rob a bank (that’s sarcasm, IRS!!!).  Why are all my hobbies expensive?!  I couldn’t just like/be good at basketball or something?  Oh no.  Skiing, scuba diving, flying.  These are the things I love to do.  Of course.  At any rate, I’m thankful I have these abilities and opportunities.  It doesn’t get much better than this!  Hakuna Matata!

Silver Things

I love my birthday.  Birthdays in general, actually.  But I especially love mine.  My first birthday was spent in Disney World.  Maybe that’s part of the reason why I feel the need to return time and again.  A pilgrimage of sorts.  I’ve had a myriad of birthday parties and the like.  Bowling was a recurring one when I was still in those single digits.  There was a year that an amusement park was opened just for us (my brother and I share birthdays in the same week) because my dad was buddies with the owner.  I’m not a huge party person, though.  As I got older, the more I realized the large groups of people was not my style.  So it became sleepovers and dinner at Gino’s (my favorite restaurant) and a hike or trip to Great Adventure  or carving pumpkins with my closer friends.

Instead of a Sweet 16 party that probably costs more than some people’s weddings the way some people throw these festivities, I went to Disney World with my family.  Way better than a night of getting dressed up and dancing and being with a lot of people who you really don’t get to spend time with.  To me at least.  People like different things and that’s good for them.  I like spending time with me and my close people.  And even that has to be controlled.  I am close to a lot of people.  I never thought I’d say that, but I am.  I have a LOT of close friends who I would literally do anything for and who would reciprocate that.  But I still don’t won’t to spend time with all of those people I love and care about all at once.  If I ever get married, that’s going to be a struggle!  Anyway.

When I turned 20, I was living in Germany and my boyfriend at the time came to visit me for the weekend.  He got there on my birthday and we did touristy things in Munich before heading to Austria to go skiing on a glacier.  I like to go all out for my birthdays!  The very idea of being by myself on my birthday was outrageous to me.  I couldn’t be alone!  That would be more than depressing.  But merely five years later, I almost welcomed the idea.  At first, I was disappointed when I found out I had to work on my birthday.  I haven’t had to work or go to school on my birthday in six years!  And that meant I couldn’t go to the Big Island with my parents as originally planned.  But I ended up making the most out of the day.

After work, I rented a jeep and set off for Aulani, A Disney Resort (I swear, they don’t pay me to advertise).  I thoroughly enjoyed their hydro garden I had access to at the spa prior to my massage (this experience deserves it’s own post: I promise you it’s worth it though if I don’t get to writing about it in more detail), and then I had dinner at their fancy restaurant on the water.  A table set for one.  I’m pretty sure my waiter felt sorry for me (or maybe he didn’t care at all, but he seemed confused nevertheless).  I was once in those shoes.  I distinctly recall a woman who ate at Gino’s every week on her own.  I know this because I too ate at Gino’s every week back in the day with my mom or a friend or anyone really.  Sometimes multiple times in a week!  I used to feel bad for her.  She was older and usually had a book.  I thought of her often when I was going to meet people at a restaurant and I was the first person there and the like.  It was uncomfortable being there alone for 5 minutes, let alone a whole meal.

As I traipsed through Europe and jet-setted throughout the US on my own, I avoided dining out alone.  Take out and microwaveable options were my go to choices.  Food carts weren’t too bad either.  But eating a meal by myself in a restaurant was the awkward experience.  It’s crazy how much my thoughts on this have changed.  Much like traveling by myself is one of my more looked forward to adventures now, eating dinner in public by myself is no longer an issue.  While it’s still not at the top of my list of things to do, I don’t really care anymore if I want to try their food or simply miss eating somewhere.  I find it remarkable how much a few years can change perception.