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Pursuing My Childhood Dream: Defying the Odds, and the Doubters, I Become a Private Airplane Pilot.

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Part I: As a child, I was fascinated by the vastness of the sky, the graceful dance of airplanes soaring through the clouds. The dream of becoming a private airplane pilot ignited within me at an early age, a dream fueled by my insatiable curiosity and the desire to conquer the skies. However, the journey to turn this childhood aspiration into reality was no easy feat. Throughout my life, I encountered a chorus of skepticism – the murmurs that it was too difficult, too costly, and that the path I envisioned was simply beyond reach. Friends, family, and even acquaintances offered well-meaning, yet discouraging advice, cautioning me that my dream was one of the unattainable ones. Yet, deep down, the fire within me refused to be extinguished by their doubts, propelling me to prove not only to them but also to myself that I was capable of defying the odds and embracing the sky as my own.

Have you ever wanted to be a pilot?

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Links to help you get your pilots license:

Part II: Unveiling the Determination Within

As a child, the idea of becoming a pilot was a distant, almost ethereal notion, more akin to fairy tales than reality. My yearning to navigate the skies above was woven into the fabric of my being, yet its practicality remained a mystery. I hadn't yet recognized the underlying determination that would eventually fuel my journey.

One summer afternoon, the catalyst for a much delayed, thirty seven years in the future transformation arrived in the form of

Harold L. "Jamie" Jameson, my friendly childhood neighbor from Berryton Kansas, and an experienced pilot. As we chatted about airplanes and aspirations, a daring suggestion hung in the air: "Why not take a flight together?"

The day of our flight dawned, filled with a blend of anticipation and trepidation. Stepping onto the tarmac, I faced the small aircraft that would become my vessel into the realm of dreams. The hum of the engine matched the rhythm of my heart as we taxied along the runway. And then, in a heartbeat, we were airborne, the earth receding beneath us. Rivers snaked through fields like liquid silver, and the world unveiled itself in breathtaking expanse. In that exhilarating moment, I realized that what I had considered a wild dream was, in fact, a tangible reality.

Beside me, Jamie navigated with the confidence of someone who had danced with the winds countless times. With each passing minute, the horizon expanded, mirroring the boundless potential that lay ahead. The wind whispered stories of freedom, and the clouds embraced us as if sharing a secret. As we began our descent, the gravity of the experience settled in – not only had Jamie given me my first flight, but he had also planted a bulb of determination within me. A determination that would blossom into a relentless pursuit of my childhood dream nearly four decades later.

Has anyone ever inspired you to become a pilot?

  • Yes, a family member, father, mother, brother, etc.

  • Yes, another pilot or aviation person.

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Rod Machado's Aviation Learning Center

Part III: Navigating the Maze of Life

My teenage years and the journey through my early forties were a tapestry woven with a myriad of experiences – a blend of laughter, exploration, and the search for purpose. The fire of my childhood dream to become a pilot, once bright and eager, had been relegated to the back burner as life's demands took center stage. The horizon of possibilities that had once beckoned me from the sky had, for a while, become overshadowed by the intricacies of growing up.

During these years, I found myself immersed in the hustle and bustle of life – chasing academic pursuits, savoring friendships, and carving a path into the working world. The urgency of responsibilities dulled the echo of my once-vivid dream. Yet, even in the midst of the everyday, faint reminders lingered. An occasional glance at the sky would evoke a nostalgic whisper, a fleeting thought of the skies I had once longed to conquer.

As time marched forward, the process of self-discovery unfolded. Careers shifted, aspirations evolved, and the ever-changing currents of life directed my course. I explored, I stumbled, and I learned. Yet, somewhere in the midst of these pursuits, the memory of my childhood dream remained suspended like a delicate thread, waiting to be woven back into the fabric of my life. It was as though the universe conspired to remind me that dreams, no matter how faded they may seem, possess an uncanny ability to resurface when the time is right.

Part III: A Ray of Hope Takes Flight

Amid the whirlwind of my life's chapters, there came a moment of clarity that would reignite the spark of my long-forgotten dream. Seated at my workstation, with about five thousand dollars I had diligently saved, I found myself staring at the screen, fingers poised over the keyboard. It was as if the universe had whispered a reminder, prompting me to act upon the yearning that had remained dormant within me for far too long. With a determined click, I initiated a Google search, seeking a gateway into the skies.

The search results led me to Sky II LLC, a small flight school out of Butler Missouri (KBUM) that seemed to shimmer with the promise of possibility.

Here was a place where dreams could be translated into reality. Led by a seasoned elder pilot named Leeroy Cook and an enthusiastic young aviator named Eric Eastland, Sky II LLC beckoned with open arms. Their fleet of Cessna 150s (don't let the age fool you, they fly just fine.)

became my ticket to the skies, and their passion for flying mirrored my own long-buried desire.

With the practicality of reasonable rates and an eagerness to share their knowledge, Leeroy and Eric provided me with the opportunity I had so longed for. They offered not just flying lessons, but the chance to resurrect my connection with the clouds, one lesson at a time. As the engine of a Cessna 150 roared to life and I took to the pilot's seat, a sense of exhilaration melded with nostalgia. The dream that had been relegated to the shadows of my past was now propelling me forward into a new chapter of my life. Through the windows of that small aircraft, I glimpsed the horizon of my aspirations, illuminated once again.

Part IV: Mastering the Ground and the Sky

Navigating the path to becoming a private airplane pilot involved more than just time in the air; it required grounding in the essentials too. Flight ground school, a crucial phase of the journey, introduced me to Rod Machado's online course—an education that seamlessly blended entertainment and knowledge. With its engaging content and user-friendly interface, the course proved not only easy to grasp but also immensely enjoyable, making learning an enjoyable experience. This comprehensive resource, remarkably affordable and inclusive of all the necessary materials, equipped me not only to pass the FAA Private Pilot written exam with flying colors but also to internalize the intricate details with ease. Studying Rod Machado's course in parallel with my flight lessons at Sky II LLC synergistically fortified my understanding, bridging theory with practice, ultimately setting the foundation for my soaring success.

Part V: Taking Flight on My Own Terms

Remarkably, my journey towards the skies seemed to unfold with an uncanny swiftness. After just eleven hours of flight training, the momentous occasion of my first solo flight was upon me, a testament to the dedication of both my instructors and my own determination. The skills I had cultivated over years of using Microsoft Flight Simulator for fun and practice came to the fore, fast-tracking my learning curve. As I taxied down the runway, my heart raced in

rhythm with the propellers, anticipation mingling with a newfound self-assuredness. With each passing second, the realization that I was solely responsible for this

airborne endeavor sunk in. The flight that followed was a dance of exhilaration and tranquility, a symphony of skill and passion

that culminated in a safe landing. It was a defining moment, affirming that my dream, once deemed unattainable by many, was now a tangible reality shaped by unwavering determination.

If it were not for my flight simulator setup, including the switches and radios found in the Cessna 150s, I am sure that it would have taken me much longer to accomplish my first solo flight.

The culmination of my journey arrived in the form of cross-country flights that stretched beyond the familiar skies. Venturing to destinations like Joplin, Columbia, and Jefferson City in Missouri, I embarked on journeys that underscored the essence of aviation—the spirit of exploration and the thrill of reaching new horizons. Each flight brought its challenges and rewards, expanding not only my piloting skills but also my perspective on the world.

However, the ultimate test awaited—my check ride, a moment of reckoning that held my dreams and aspirations in the balance. Nervousness clouded my first attempt, causing a stumble during the verbal exam. Yet, determination refused to bow to setbacks. On my second try, I soared above my nerves and passed, paving the way for a triumphant return flight as a certified private pilot under Part 61 FAA regulations. As I navigated my aircraft homeward, the sky embraced me with a sense of accomplishment that words could scarcely capture—a journey that had once seemed improbable was now an indelible reality etched into the tapestry of my life.

End of the journey to certification but certainly just the very beginning of a very long endeavor of constantly learning and improving upon my skill as a pilot for the rest of my life as long as my body allows. I will fly airplanes now until I am no longer physically capable.

Leeroy Cook, my trainer told me on the first day of training, "Nathan, this is going to change your life forever." and boy was he right.

If you ever dreamed of being a pilot, GO FOR IT NOW!!! Do Not Wait!! It is not out of reach and you can find a way to get it done. Your first step I would recommend is get Rod Machado's ground school program and start studying. Find a small flight school to get your flight training if your on a budget. Small schools usually charge much less than a big name school or college. Leeroy is still training people at KBUM Butler airport last I knew, but I don't know for how much longer he will be up to the task. I know for a fact though, just like I will, he won't stop flying until he is absolutely unable. Flying airplanes changes everything!

Thank you so much Leeroy Cook and Eric Eastland, for training me and for helping me accomplish my life long dream.

Stay tuned to my blog, there will be more exciting, interesting, educational blogs about my flying experiences. Eric and I still fly together while he builds hours to become a commercial airline pilot and I polish my skills and shoot to obtain my IFR rating.

Be Kind and Humble in life. Never give up on your dreams, They are reachable!!

Nathan Wesley Schrock.

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