Would I Still Choose to Become a Pilot?

by

YOU BET! HERE’S WHY.

There are some amazing things in life that call you.

A Blast From the Past

My dad’s been spending his COVID-19 lockdown going through our family photo albums. Dad was quite the shutterbug and as his only child, I ended up being the object of his flashbulb the majority of the time.

Dad captured SO many priceless moments: shooting competition memories, Powhatan Field Day victories, high school track and cross-country mementos, family gatherings, high school proms, homecomings, and so many more.

This photo is one of those priceless family moments.

I’ve always been obsessed with airplanes. Sure…..I went through a Navy Seal phase complete with trident flag hanging in my room much to my mom’s chagrin (even though women can’t be Navy Seals, you would’ve never known that if you were me at such an impressionable young age with a dad that encouraged my every lofty goal).

Career Goals

My career goals tended to fall along the lines of whichever action-packed movie was showing on the silver screen that dad made sure I saw for the flying scenes. This Church of Christ girl’s eyes were diverted during any of the nefariously-questionable tableaus!

But alas, the mystique of the airline pilot won over. Perhaps it was the smile on my dad’s face every time he returned from a trip. Or maybe it was the great stories he told me about the people he met or the places he’d travel.

He’d also tell me about the art of the aircraft. The challenges, the problem solving, the satisfaction that comes from working a flight’s problem through to its completion.

You Bet There Were Obstacles

Just like right after 9/11, I’ve been asked by many lately if I regret my choice of becoming a professional pilot.

As you all know, the airline industry is undergoing an economic convulsion never seen in the history of the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 1st, the industry was desperate for pilots and diverted funds and manpower to new departments dedicated to mining the best and brightest minds to fill the looming pilot shortage.

COVID-19 slammed the proverbial brakes on those plans. And is threatening the careers of many.

BUT….would I still choose this exact same career path if given the opportunity to start over?

In a heartbeat. And here’s why.

Friendships, Stories, and Thrill

I could expound upon the incredible lifelong friendships I’ve developed, the places I’ve seen, and the stories I can tell that have come out of my airline career. There’s the thrill I still get after thousands of hours in the air of pushing up the thrust levers and feeling the thrust of jet engines spool in preparation to launch me skyward.

But the real reason I’d do it all again the exact same way can be summed up in one word: Grit.

Grit is a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions. Those who possess grit are able to self-regulate and postpone their need for positive reinforcement while working diligently on a task.

I know there are a multitude of career fields where one can acquire grit. Let me take a moment to expound upon why piloting is one of them.

I recently heard a meme that stated: “What you did to get you here, will get you there.”

Nothing Great is Easy

Pursuing a professional piloting career isn’t easy. It doesn’t take PhD-level brainpower, but it does take work, dedication, passion, and a willingness to never give up. You have to learn to push through the training plateaus, learn to be humble enough to admit when you’re wrong, and confident enough in your decision making abilities to choose a path with the best information you have at the time. And the studying….countless hours and weekend festivities missed while absorbing huge amounts of knowledge.

It takes Grit. A lot of Grit. And if you don’t have it before you start down a piloting career path, you’ll either acquire it or fail.

Fortunately, I acquired it.

I credit the girt I’ve acquired through military and civilian aviation in part to being the woman I am today. The majority of us have a plan for our life. Just like those life plans, each flight has a distinct plan. Planned altitudes. Planned route. Planned fuel. Everything is PLANNED.

Until it isn’t.

Mechanical failures. Medical emergencies. Unexpected weather. Diversions. Deviations….

Pandemics.

Massive economic recessions.

And then we have to modify our life PLAN. And this is where the grit comes in.

We lean on our experience and procedures. We make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. We keep thinking. We keep going. We never give up. And we NEVER quit flying our personal life jet.

What brought me through my aviation career is what will get me to whatever God has in store for me next should the airline industry continue to reel beyond repair due to COVID-19.

We all have Grit within us or the ability to acquire it. My career path was spent in near constant acquisition and growth of grit. Perhaps this pandemic is your grit acquisition and growth opportunity.

Wherever you are in your journey, keep going. And never quit flying your jet.

Dianna Klein

Dianna Klein

Dianna is a wife, mom, professional pilot, and entrepreneur living with her husband and two sons in Las Vegas, NV. When not airborne, brainstorming business ideas, or volunteering in her community, Dianna can be found at national parks across the southwest hiking and camping with her boys.
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