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We asked for your favorite memories from an airplane to celebrate International Zero Eight Left Day this year. And with over 80 entries, you made it way too hard!! We've read these over and over and finally just had to go with our guts for our 8 $80 gift card winners. But, there are so many incredible other stories that should have won so we're sending $10 gift cards to a number of secondary winners too. Below are those that gave us permission to post. Read them and smile. And thank you for being such an amazing community!!!

 

THE WINNERS

Growing up, we travel frequently as my dad is a commercial airline pilot. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see so many different parts of the world at such a young age. However, I believe that my most memorable moment on a plane was about three years ago. As a check airman for Southwest Airlines, my dad was given the opportunity to pick up a new airplane at Boeing in Seattle and take his family along for the ride. When we got to Boeing, we were given a badge and taken down to the plane to take some photos. One of my favorite photos of my dad, brother and I was taken in the engine of the plane that day. Once my dad and his fellow check airman, and friend from the Air Force, signed for the plane, we boarded a completely empty plane to fly to another warehouse for final inspection. My brother and I sat in the cockpit for take off. The thrill of watching my dad take off was honestly something I was not expecting. After 40+ years of flying, it was exciting to finally see my dad in his element. Eventually, once we hit 10,000 feet, we exited the cockpit and explored the plane. My dad told us stories of his Air Force buddies sliding down the aisle on tray tables during take off and his first time flying. My dad's coworker showed us the ins and outs of the cockpit and how to fly the plane. While we only spent about an hour and a half in the air, it was genuinely one of my most memorable and unique experiences. Who else can say that they have sat in the cockpit for take off on a completely empty Southwest Airlines plane? And what's more- after this trip, my brother actually decided to follow in my dad's footsteps and is now two years into his process of becoming an airline pilot. - Maddie

July 5th, it was a normal day. Nothing too exciting. Flying passengers home from their Independence Day celebrations. Almost to my year mark as captain and just past my three year anniversary with the company. We landed in RDM, and the cutest passenger ever wanted to come see the flight deck. Of course my flight attendants let her come on up. She was so excited to see a female pilot. Kept talking about how one day she wanted to be just like me. Oh my, my heart exploded. Her name is Irie. She is even a talented artist and gifted me with a hand drawn airplane. ( which is now homed on my refrigerator) Her mom called for her to come back so they could get on their way. Irie gave me a hug and said thank you. This moment was a pivotal moment for me. I hadn't had an experience like this before. It showed me, no matter what we are doing, we are making impressions. Male, female, brown, white.. the littles are watching and looking up to us. That's all that matters. Helping the next generation. Showing them they can achieve whatever their heart desires. I hope Irie chases her dreams and crushes every one of them!!! - Emilee


My partner (Andrew) and I (Andy) met in college in 2010 at Kent State University. I was a business major and he was an air traffic control major while also pursuing his private and commercial pilot license. He always told me he would take me flying, but he let his currency lapse after college. He ended up getting picked up by the FAA as a controller in 2016 and (unbeknownst to me) in summer 2019 he started flying again to renew his currency. On August 24, 2019, he told me to meet him at work. I figured we were going to lunch...and I was wrong. I was whisked away to another local airport where he had a plane waiting for us. We hopped in and I had my first flight with him. As we came in to land at the facility where he worked, he pulled the plane around on the taxiway and at the top of the tower was a huge banner that said, "ANDY WILL YOU MARRY ME?" And of course I said yes! He hatched this plan to surprise me and all of our friends and all of his coworkers were in on the secret. After we took the banner down and got some pictures, we hopped back in the plane to fly north to one of our favorite places: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We did a loop around the park checking out the rides from the air before heading back to return the plane. It was, by far, my favorite experience in an airplane so far, and will be forever. - Andy


One of my most memorable moments on a plane is in 2018 when the captain of a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 invited me to the cockpit to sit in his seat. I had intentionally booked this flight LGW-LAS-LAX (home) with 5 hour layover because it was one of the only 747 aircraft remaining with economy seats on the upper deck. After I boarded the flight, the friendly FA asked me if I was returning home or going on holiday to Las Vegas, and I replied that I was going home to LA. She said, "we have direct flights to LAX, you know," and I told her my reasoning for choosing that specific route. She gasped, grabbed by hand, and led me straight to the cockpit to introduce me to the pilots. The captain let me sit in his chair with the first officer, and the FA snapped a pic. Even though I'm a grown adult, the inner child of this aviation geek felt pure excitement. Shortly after, the LGW to LAS route was ended, and Virgin Atlantic retired its 747s. I bought a VS 747 model aircraft to accompany my photo at home. - Michael


One of my best memories as a pilot was my first time flying my wife and first born son. I wanted to make it special and an enjoyable experience for them as my son was about to turn a year old and my wife was going to have her hands full. Being on the 757 based in LAX at the time my routes were limited to mostly Newark or Chicago. However when all the planets aligned I was able to get a Lihue trip that had 100 open seats and a long layover at the beautiful Marriott Beach Resort. I’d leave them there after the layover to fly the all-nighter back to the west coast and finish my trip before flying back to meet them in Kauai and spend a few days off before flying home. What an amazing opportunity to fly them both for my first time. The late afternoon departure from LAX was picture perfect for flying. I got to preboard them and show them the office of the Atari Ferrari (757). After a botched welcome aboard announcement due to nerves and distraction in the flight deck it was time to show them what I do best. We pushed back on time for the 5hr50 minute flight to Lihue. A short taxi later I find myself lined up full length on runway 25R pushing up the throttles to create the chaotic symphony of noise and fury that only the Rolls Royce RB211’s can deliver. A short and powerful take off run races by in the blink of an eye due to the light passenger load and before I know it, the wheels are in the well and we are speeding west bound chasing the sun across the pacific. Mid flight I got to go back and check up on the wife and my son. It was so satisfying to get to see their two smiling faces back there. Before I knew it, we were starting down into the islands during a dramatic sunset that only Hawaii can pull off. I picked up the airport on a long base to final approach, got the visual clearance and clicked the auto pilot and auto throttles off because I guess that was gonna show them how important this flight was?!? The captain made the 500 foot call out, to which I responded “stable”. He then ever so casually whispered, don’t forget your wife and son are in the back. Don’t mess it up”. To which I just had to laugh. Seconds later the 8 main wheels gently greeted Lihue’s runway 35. Unfortunately the nose gear didnt want to cooperate for the perfect landing. But it’s all good, they’re way in the back! I was met by a smiling wife and boy and off to the Marriott we went. One of the nice flight attendants told us she’s babysitting our boy and we were going to enjoy dinner out at Dukes. After getting to take my boy to the beach early the next morning and dipping his feet in the ocean for the first time, I knew this trip was one that I’d never forget. - Brian


This is one of the greatest most difficult questions to answer. I’m blessed to have story after story after story. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an aviation family. Both my mom and dad are flight attendants for Southwest Airlines, and have been for more than 30 years. Dad also has his private and A&P license, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, I have so many fond memories as a teenager just jet setting to where ever my parents were on their overnights and getting to hang out in whatever city. Fast forward to 2014 and what is probably the best moment of my life to date... I GOT MY WINGS! Almost 30 years to the day from when my dad got his and just 26 years from when my mom got hers. They both got to pin me, and fly my first trip with me. I feel so fortunate. How many other people get to show up to work, work with their parents, and fly all at the same time? Now I know there’s a few family’s out there, but I feel extra lucky that we’re all at Southwest. Southwest really encourages us all to be a big family, so to have my actual family is something that means the world to me! The aviation industry sees so much up and down it’s nice to have a constant. Family. - Chase

The Goodyear Blimp! Flying at only 20 knots, 500 feet off the ground the FAA doesn't require seatbelts! We were 4 friends in the cosy cabin, strategically placed for balance by weight for the rare thrill of a lifetime. The windows were open that blue sky day, and it was our job to wave at the rather close people in their yards who smiled and waved back-- and we heard that magical hum of the engines vibrating off the inflated rubber air ship, that same unmistakable telltale sound I hear from the ground signifying a blimp is near. I never tire of it, being that it's based in Pompano where it flies over Fort Lauderdale so often, dreaming of a ride. When the ship has to travel across several states for a sporting event, our very personable and handsome pilot explained, those astonished people along the route that rarely get to see a blimp come out of their houses to greet it. A highlight of the voyage was when said pilot stood up and bent over, squirming his butt around(couldn't help it-- it was just in our faces!) searching for a sample of the thick Goodyear rubber that the skin is made from, but to no avail, so we never got to feel, rub, or squeeze it (no, the rubber!). We also enjoyed his running commentary of the action below: a manatee and her baby cruising along a canal, giant tarpon, water skiers and jet skiers... sharks stationed at the opening of Port Everglades inlet waiting for "lunch," ...and was that an alligator? Since I was sitting in the copilot's seat I just had to ask if I could fly our blimp. SURE! Since there were no hydraulics it was all mechanical controls which took all my strength to steer the rudder with the pedals, and there was a big wheel to turn forward or back between our seats that aimed the giant ship's elevator trim tabs up or down. Alas our cute blimp has now been replaced by a zeppelin, which has a rigid air frame so there's no more vibrating hum any more off the pliable rubber. But oh the memories... - Stephen

When the COVID pandemic hit, my partner and I were 2 months into our planned year long sabbatical around the world. Fearing being locked down in the Philippines we boarded the first flight we can find to India due to some plans we’ve already had reserved. After hours of trying to adjust flights and avoid cancellation fees, we had a flight on Scoot to Amritsar, Punjab, India. Needless to say we had no clue where Amritsar was. On our transfer in Singapore we boarded a beautiful 787 and realized we were the only non Indians on the flight. It was then that we realized...where where we going? With no hotel/hostel booked or idea how to navigate India we landed and found our way around what we learned was the holy south of the Sikhs. It was one of the moments that I’ll remember for a lifetime. It was such an adventure and such a spur of the moment decision. Also my ability to deal with the challenges and pressures of travel. - Drew


 

THE REST OF THE AMAZING ENTRIES!
(in order received)

When I was a child, I flew first class on a Saudi Arabian 747 from New York to Riyadh with my family. I was very young, and I remember wondering in amazement about how we were flying over the moon. Everyone, including our flight attendants, got quite a laugh over it. This was in 87 or 88. - Nabi


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by airplanes, so, like any young aviation enthusiast, it’s a dream of mine to some day get a pilots’ license. Back in February, I got one step closer to this ultimate goal when I took a discovery flight at the local flight school. From takeoff to approach, I, with only basic simulator experience, was in control of an actual airplane. The thrill was undeniable, and I had the stupidest grin on my face the whole time. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The cloudless sky made for excellent flying conditions and the view of my hometown was incredible. It was truly an unforgettable experience. - Logan


Like many who support your great company, I am an unapologetic aviation geek. I’ve had a ton of great memories on a plane, crossed many things off my aviation bucket list but there is one that tops them all: my experience on The Concorde. Now I never flew on The Concorde in the conventional sense as I was 11 when she took her last flight and that was an experience our family was nowhere close to afford. That being said, for my 30th birthday, I decided to take a trip of a lifetime to London, more specifically to The Brooklands Museum and participated in their Concorde Champagne Day. What made this experience so special was that it was a recreation of a traditional Concorde flight with a full meal, champagne and a simulated “flight” inside The Concorde where they took you through what the experience on a typical Concorde Flight was like. What’s most memorable about this to me however was that one by one, all the participants were invited to sit up in the cockpit of The Concorde with the Chief Pilot of The British Airways Concorde, Mike Bannister. For a brief period of time Captain Bannister allowed me to sit in the iconic left seat, work the (non functioning) controls and told stories of his time on The Concorde and how much it meant to him. Never in my 30 years would I have dreamed of setting foot on The Concorde let alone be in the cockpit with the Chief Pilot! He was so incredibly personable and welcoming - thrilled that there were people out there like me who loved aviation and The Concorde enough to want to share the experience! He was even nice enough to photobomb the selfie I took in the left seat! It’s an experience I will hold with me for the rest of my life. A fitting tribute to one of the finest aircraft to ever grace the skies. - Benjamin

Well I don't have one favourite I have 2!

The first one was when I flew on my first commercial flight when I was 10 on a charter flight to Finland. The first time feeling the lurch as the parking breaks released and the sound of the roaring Rolls Royce RB211-535E4s (I was on a Monarch Boeing 757-200) was just amazing and that moment got me hooked on planes. I caught the "Aviation Bug" as they say.

The second one was when I flew a plane for the first time. I flew a lovely Cirrus SR20-G2 from my local airport EGBJ on a trial lesson. Having my handson the controls for the first time and feeling the aircraft responsing to my inputs rather than just seeing it on my Flight sim was just amazing. Only hiccup is that the TCAS went off (Yellow warning) as it was very busy that day and hard to see other aircraft. - Ed

The most memorable experience I’ve had on a plane was the first time I flew alone. I was 13 and was flying from Texas to Alabama to attend Space Camp in Huntsville at the US Space and Rocket Center. It was really fun and sometimes scary, especially when I had to navigate DFW by myself. By AA policy, I had to be an Unaccompanied Minor (UM), which resulted in some special treatment that made the flights really smooth. I would get all kinds of snacks, and would usually get a row to myself and I always got the window seat. I remember that when I first arrived at DFW on my way to Alabama, a short little bald man escorted me to the ‘maximum security holding cell’. (The room for UMs) On our way there, I asked him if I could buy lunch from somewhere, since I had brought money for food. He said no, and that there wasn’t enough time. He then brought to the UM room where I sat for around 2 very hungry hours. On my departing flight, I realized that I didn’t have my watch with me. That specific watch I got for Christmas the previous year, so it was pretty new and I liked it a lot. I had probably taken it off sometime in the UM room, because it would rub pretty bad. So I thought about it for the whole flight. On my return flight to DFW, I met a different guy which was much taller and much cooler. I asked him if he could take me to the UM to see if they had any missing watches. They didn’t, and I was bummed. But besides the watch incident, the whole trip was very fun and it was a new experience that combined my favorite activity with a sense of independence that I had previously never felt before. - Josh

I remember my first time on a plane, it was a Jetblue A320, and it was from Boston to West Palm Beach to see my grandparents. It was so surreal to actually be flying, planes had always fascinated me, and it was just an amazing experience to get on the plane, find my seat, and feel myself being lifted off the ground. I was in love. - Noah

When I was 6 I was flying Southwest into Orlando with my family. The sun was going down over the clouds as my favorite thing was to watch them from the window. Upon descent the clouds turned pink. Every single one of them. The song clocks by colplay was playing on the radio while I just admired the view with an amazing song for the time. After landing you could smell the jet fuel which just put everything into tone as we arrived into the gate. Ever since then ive dreamed of being a pilot to see that view one more time. And to this day that still remains my favorite memory and the most memorable. - Adam


I have always been an admirer of jumbo jets. Airbus being my favorite manufacturer, I dreamt of flying in an A380. I was booking my flight back home to India from KBOS to VIDP and I got an option to fly via EDDF. The second leg of the flight was in a A380 LH760(Now they fly a A343 on that route due to less demand). I think I wasn't as excited to go home as much as I was to fly aboard A380. I booked a special seat on the upper deck just to have a chance to explore the aircraft. It was a majestic feeling entering the super jumbo jet. I could see the twin engines on the left wing while boarding the aircraft through air bridge. They were so magnificent I could not take my eyes off them and realized that people behind me were waiting patiently for me to stop glaring. I was welcomed with so much warmth by the Lufthansa crew. I had to board my seat through the stair case on the extreme rear of the aircraft. I could see how people in economy on lower deck were stuffed with people and I was praying that i get more room to breathe on the upper deck. And voila. I was lucky to get an almost empty cabin upstairs. Felt almost like flying business ( don't judge please, ofcourse its my fantasies to fly in Business or First class. Do let me know if you give away a free ticket or something :p). It had a small cabin in my left armrest and i was so happy to put my laptop in it. I had the best sleep in this flight and was wishing that i could keep flying this aircraft. The flight came to an end and I wished i could visit the cockpit and meet the captains. But unfortunately that wasn't possible. One of my most memorable trips till date though. Flying on your dream aircraft is amazing. - Aman

I would say one of my favorite stories, and most exciting, was my first diversion as a private pilot. I spent the whole day in a new city acting touristy that I forgot to keep an eye on the forecast. I just knew that it was raining at 1 am and I'll be home by 9 pm max. But towards 6 pm I get an inkling that I should head home. I listen to my gut and fly back. And as I'm slowly getting to the city (at night) I'm noticing what looks like a cloud layer covering downtown. But it doesn't make sense because there was no forecast at all even when I departed. At 40 miles away, I listen to the arrival ATIS and hear RNAV 15L but I still can't fathom it. I decide maybe I can squeeze in a VFR arrival because the airport looks clear from the clouds, so I tune into the tower frequency and hear a pilot cleared to land - and then goes around. And then he's cleared to land a second time, and he goes around a second time. But this time he says he can't see the runway at 700 feet. That's where my training (fear then training) set in. At that point I knew my home base was out of the question, and I had work at 7am so the next nearest destination was our neighbouring airport - which I flew into once before only. I was parallel to it at this point, and quickly dialed the CTAF frequency because I wasn't sure if Tower was still on. No response. Another call, no response. I jump back to the home base airport frequency and ask them what's going on, and they gave me the tower frequency (I was calling the FBO lol) and the tower gave me a straight in for their runway. Mind you this was all happening while I'm turning away from the clouds. After landing, they suggest I go to the Maintenance hangars for tie down, but again I had no idea where to go and it's night time in a new airport. Fortunately I see the previously mentioned pilot there - a CFI at my base - and we share an an Uber home. He helps calm my nerves and gets my head back on the ground. Still made it to work at 7am the next day, with a heck of a story for my manager. - Osman


My adopted grandfather in his Will had set aside some money for me to go and fly in a P51 Mustang. He had owned and raced them in the 60s and 70s and always wanted me to experience what he had. He decided he didn't want to wait and gave me this gift early so he could get to hear about my experience and see my joy! It was indeed an amazing experience, one that I can't really put into words. We were able to share videos and pictures with him and he was delighted that he and I could talk about the 51, how it flew and the exhilaration we had both felt at the controls. He passed away a few months later unfortunately, but I will forever be grateful to have had him come into my life and for every cup of coffee shared over tales from the sky. CAVU! - Rob


Flight from TLV to SFO where Quintin Tarantino was seated behind me and we made small talk, I made friends with the purser and she gave me a tour of the crew rest area, and the crew gave me chocolate mousse and mimosas for breakfast (5am landing). - Mike

For me, my most memorable moment was when I took my discovery flight. I’d always wanted to be a pilot, and for years had played flight simulators of all types. To be able to actually feel the movements of the aircraft that I chose to make is something that I’ll never forget, and it’s a start to (hopefully) my career as an airline pilot. - John

I have always loved aviation. I would read about airplanes and look at all kinds of pictures of them, I even had a shower curtain of a 747. When we would take family vacations, I would always ask my dad if we could walk around the terminal and see all the different planes. I knew so many different models of commercial planes. Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell-Douglas, Bombardier, I knew them all. In recent years, I have been able to watch thousands of YouTube videos on a variety of seats from a variety of airlines. I would also watch flight reviews from many different channels, read articles on the latest news in aviation, and I also checked for cheap business class seats all the time. However it was never about the seat or the lounge, it was about the plane. The planes are the most beautiful thing about aviation. With new technology, airplanes have been captured by photographers from all over the world looking to make the planes into pieces of art. Many of these art pieces by 08 Left depict the planes in the most beautiful ways possible. I give my respect and credit to 08 Left for making some of the best art pieces for people who have loved aviation for their entire lives. - Nealon

I’m not a pilot, but a flight attendant. I was on my first trip to ANC. My crew were all Anchorage veterans and showed me around and made sure I had a good time. I was struggling to stay awake on our return flight to ORD (after staying out a little too late at F Street Station the night before) when the pilots called us and invited us up one by one to see the northern lights. It was my first time seeing them, and they were so inexplicably beautiful. I was the last to go in and stayed up in the cockpit for at least 20 minutes. I’ll never forget it. - Christopher

Two years ago on a business trip to Vancouver, I was upgraded to business class by Air Canada. Since I had never flown business class before, I promised myself I wouldn't get too excited so that I didn't stand out like a sore thumb in front of all of those fancy biz class folks. As soon as I took my seat, I began taking selfies of myself because I didn't want to forget this experience. Apparently, I must have taken too many because halfway through the flight when it was time to order my meal, the flight attendant approached me and laughed while asking "Hey Kodak, what would you like for dinner?" Everyone near me began to chuckle and so did I. That's when I realized I had completely broken the promise I had made myself and from now on should be cast into economy class for the rest of life. Best flight ever! - Jeremy

I work as an air traffic controller at a small airport in Southern California, and one day during my training here (years ago), my trainer surprised me with a flight I will never forget! A local pilot had a beautiful, immaculate P-51 Mustang, and offered rides to the controllers for fun, and to show his appreciation for our work! So my trainer set up a flight with the pilot, but didn’t tell me what kind of plane I would be flying in. He just told me I was going to do a fun flight or familiarization flight of the area. But when I walked onto the ramp and saw the plane I would be flying in, I was SHOCKED, to say the least!!! I had never seen a P-51 in person, and it was more beautiful than I ever imagined! So I hopped in the plane and the pilot briefed me on a few things, and we were off! We flew down the coast of SoCal, and did a few laps in the traffic pattern, and it was the coolest thing ever! I will never forget that flight for as long as I live, and how awesome my trainer here was, for setting that up for me!! - Caitlan

It would be me getting off an American MD bird from Manchester,UK to Chicago,IL to step on American soil for the first time in 2011. Was my first experience dealing with an American based airline. Flew on 777s every leg before that one so...that was interesting flying in a piece of history for 8 ish hours on uncomfortable seats. But the moment of magic was flying over the waters of lake Michigan before landing into one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, not knowing that some day, the USA would be the place I setup shop in my career in Aviation. - Paul

For my whole adult life, I struggled with a debilitating fear of flying. I missed out on so many amazing experiences while trying to cope with anxiety and Aviophobia. It took almost 10 years before I was in the proper headspace to finally overcome my fear, but I did it in May of 2018! Since then, I’ve taken trips around the country and have done two cruises to the Caribbean. Flying still makes me a bit anxious, but I’m able to do it. Once I get over the initial fear, I’m always so happy to be back in the air again. - Alissa

It was New Year’s Day 2018. My stepdad was going on a flight training lesson and invited me and my step brother along for the flight. We all loaded up on the small 172 which had a exhaust leak! We took off in the cold stale air and headed for the sky. I instantly fell in love, the vibration of the engine, the smell and the feel of freedom. It was the best. We did steep turns and stalls and I loved it. Then we did some touch n goes at kasg and it was super fun, just riding in the back! That was my first time in a small aircraft, and I knew, right then and there that I wanted to get my pilots license. So I started flight training the next month and I’m still on my way to get my ppl! - Brady

I was a fairly high-level gymnast in Spokane, WA in the 1980s. There was only one other club in Spokane at the time, and since our season was in the winter, this meant a lot of harrowing drives over the Cascades for meets (nearly every weekend) - My poor dad, who was our primary driver - I still remember how focused he'd be on the snowy roads while my teammates and I (we had a minivan and always brought one or two other gymnasts with us) were giggling in the back seat totally oblivious to how scary the drive was. One year the team decided to go to a meet in Bozeman, MT to break things up a bit. But this was a year with particularly high snowfall that no one wanted to drive in. So, the team chartered a plane. This was the first time flying for almost all of the gymnasts. There were about 15 of us on the team between the ages of 8 and 15, and we were so much more excited for the flight than the gymnastics meet the next morning. What we knew about flying came from movies or tv shows; so, we were all a little nervous that there was no door or curtain to the cockpit - we could see the pilots' every gesture, and every time they moved quickly or pointed toward something, the more nervous amongst us would jump (and usually squeal) - it was wild to be able to see through the pilots' windows, and a bit scary that the view was just darkness and snow. At one point during the pretty short flight, one of the gymnasts asked where the stewardess was, concerned that without her we would not get our peanuts - the parents did get us peanuts for the return flight. Since then, I've flown in a friend's biplane, stood on the wing of a plane the first time I went skydiving, and flown extensively (although never nearly enough), but it was that first chartered flight where every seat was a window seat, that first time I got to see city lights from above and then see the clouds from above, that sticks with me - no matter how long the lines are at the airport or how exhausted I feel, once we start taxiing, I'm immediately transported back to that first flight, that first experience of the possibility of air travel. - Adriane


The feeling of flying with an instructor is obviously comparable to driving with a driving instructor; even the slightest mistake would be supplemented by a resolution from her, and even if I couldn’t resolve the issue myself she had the ability to take control and wrangle the bird back into submission. As I walked into the hangar that day, I found myself reflecting upon that very idea. My confidence in the air had always been based on the fact that I had a safety net to catch me if I slipped, and now it was gone. Although we had warmed up beforehand, it still took a lot to build up the confidence needed to walk out to the plane and fly it alone. I was in control now, and I had to be completely accountable for my actions and decisions: I was the Pilot-in-Command. As I closed the door and scanned through the cockpit, I was still in denial that I was really about to fly alone. I let the nerves wash over me, and my training kicked in. Checklist after checklist, foot by foot, and soon enough I was sitting in N757ST (the trusty Cessna 152) on the runup pad. In what was probably an exclamation like, “..alright here we go...” I made the radio call and entered runway 17, lined up and pushed in the throttle. “Power set.” We (me and N757ST) lurched forward like some many times before, but this time there was a special level of concentration and excitement. “Airspeed alive.” The needle on the airspeed indicated 30, 40, 55 knots. “55, rotate!” I pulled up and I was up. ​I’m not doing this...I’m flying​. An uncontrollable cheek to cheek grin appeared on my face, a weight lifted off my shoulders and the first step towards my dream complete. I was still climbing out into the upwind leg of the pattern, but I was already beyond satisfied. The true moment in which I developed entirely new confidence was my approach. Every gust was reflexively countered, and I instinctively corrected altitude and airspeed to maintain a stable approach. As I crossed the runway threshold and flared for landing, something clicked in my mind and the plane became an extension of myself. I could hear Rebecca’s (my instructor) voice in my head saying “​Hold it, Hold it, Hold it,” ​and my I touched down. Aside from reaching one of the most important milestones in aviation training, I had a clear realization that day. Because I couldn’t rely on anyone to help, I was forced to grapple on my own, which increased my confidence ten-fold. If I had not soloed this early, I wouldn’t have the confidence I do now when flying. I not only understand how to work with others (with my instructor and ATC, as we are our own flight crew) but also myself in high-stress situations. I firmly believe that to work with others effectively, or even act as a leader, you need to understand how you work yourself. Even though this was an individual experience, I believe it allowed me to reflect upon how I problem-solve and lead myself daily. - Milo


When I was much younger, my Nani used to take me to the Buffalo International Airport to watch planes land and takeoff. We would spend hours sitting on a little wooden bench outside watching the planes. I believe this is the main reason on why I want to become a pilot. This summer I have decided to start the steps for me to get my private pilots license and I have also been talking to a pilot from United about their Aviate program for pilots. Unfortunately my Nani had just passed away last winter, but I know she would be very proud of me for all I have, and still have to accomplish. I know if I had not been exposed to the aviation world at a young age, I would not be as interested as I am now. So thanks to my Nani and all of the other people who have helped me along the way, I am hopeful to get my pilots license soon. I could have never done this by myself, especially without my Nani. - Joe

My best memory of being on a plane was checking off one of my AvGeek bucket list -- flying Club World on the 747! Jan 2020, coming back from our vacation in Spain. I wanted to be on the upper deck, but being seated right on the wing with a view of the wing tip was a dream! Little did I know that that would be the last time I'd ever experience being on a BA 747 since they're now retired due to COVID. - Joel

The most memorable moment on an airplane for me is when my son and I went on a trip and my sons dad was our pilot! My son was 3. The way my son lit up and was just over the moon that his dad was flying our plane, is a moment I will never forget! All of the other passengers thought it was pretty cute too! - Brittany

All the views even when things are stressful or seem impossible something about being above the clouds make you forget your worries, especially during these difficult times. Looking out the window and seeing a sunset or sunrise or just the general beauty of the world melts all your troubles away - Greg

My most memorable experience was from when I was young. I was flying a turboprop (dash 8-200) and I was boarding by air stairs the flight was normal and loud as it always an older plane. The approach bwas a bit bumpy but we made it. I don't know baby this was so memorable but it was. I still think about it to this day. - James

One of my most memorable plane moments was flying over Kauai and the Napali Coast in a single engine plane. It was such a unique way to see the beauty of the island. It was a few days after the remnant of a hurricane had passed over, so all of the waterfalls in the forest were flowing strong. The view from the plane was unreal, highlighting the splendor of this little island. - Lawson

My experience happened recently, April 18th, 2020. I am a nurse and I was headed to New York City to help with the CoViD19 Crisis that was affecting hard hit New York City. Alaska Airlines and AngelWingsWest helped me get out there and I was given a free ticket to get out there. Little did they know how much that helped ease some of my tension, and the stress of going out there. Alaska Airlines even upgraded me to First Class. The Flight was uneventful and only had about 30 people on board. Though it was a completely uneventful flight it meant the world to me. The staff was pleasant and professional. Normally I bring chocolates for the crew, however with CoViD I decided against it which caused me to feel a little guilty. I feel flight crews work hard and are under appreciated. I do try to fly as much as a can on a nursing salary thus every day I fly is a good day for me. I felt like a kid again at this time, but on April 18th I had to be brave even though I was shaking on the inside. I can't thank Alaska Airlines and AngelWingsWest for helping me. In the end my experience in New York City, and helping them, ended up being one of the best experiences my life. - Kyle


When we surprised our kids to a family trip to Hawaii for their first time! - Cynthia

My most memorable flight was cruising in a 717 to Orlando for my 7th birthday and my dad, who is not a pilot, explaining to me how a plane flies! Ever since then, I’ve been hooked and I’m on my path to become a pilot! - Anirudh

I fly GA out of Washington state, and it has always been a dream of mine to fly over SoCal. Well this last Winter my wife and I got our chance when we relocated our 2 seat airplane to Texas after we sold it. Even though the trip was bitter sweet, it was the most memorable flight being able to land in Burbank and fly over Griffith Observatory. We actually bought an 08 Left Airport Diagram poster of KBUR to commemorate our experience. - Jeff

I’ve been a flight instructor for the better part of a year out of Deer Valley airport in Phoenix. Teaching has been a crazy experience but by far the most rewarding and stressful week was having three of my students taking their Private Pilot check ride within a few days of each other. They’ve become a tight crew and it was amazing to have all three become licensed pilots together. - Zach

One of my favorite moments in a plane is my first solo flight as a student pilot. That day is among the most nerve wracking days I have ever experienced, but also the most rewarding. In the moment I felt very prepared, although now I look back and can’t believe such nonsense took place- someone actually thought it was a good idea to let me fly a plane by myself at that point in my training... After takeoff, reality really set in when I looked over to the right seat and no other human was sitting there. I was on my own, and even scarier, I had to land this sucker with no one else’s input. Happy to say that after a couple landings and even more go-arounds (better safe than sorry🤪), I made it back on the safe ground! Although somewhat cringey to think back to, this moment will always be one of my proudest. - Michaela

I was on a plane with my class. We where trying to land in fort Lauderdale but there was severe weather over the airport and severe turbulence with that. The pilots tried to land multiple times to no avail. The last time we made our approach, the plane hit this pocket of turbulence and we went zero g for a good 2 seconds. It was pretty scary! We diverted to Miami, refueled, and then went back to fort Lauderdale and landed once the weather passed through. - Aaron

As a 8 year old flying commercial I raised my hands during turbulence as if it were a roller coaster while everyone around me was panicking and I was having the flight of my life! - Eric

My first transatlantic flight, aboard a cramped, Boeing 757-200. It was a beautiful, crisp, August evening. The sun glowing through the window as it descended below the horizon, only to quickly greet me once again as I landed across the ocean. - Trevor

Flying around Catalina and then over to Santa Monica for lunch with friends - Paul

It was the first aircraft I remember flying on, a United 777 dressed in their 1990s battleship grey livery. I, four at the time, was staring at it from the terminal window at São Paulo - Guarulhos (GRU) prior to our flight to Miami. This was the earliest memory I recall from my childhood, and one I will always remember fondly of, together with subsequent scenes from that flight. The gray seats with orange, purple, and pink details, the incredible space a 777 offers, the power of thrust during takeoff, the beast of a bird lifting off with the power of only two engines, and finally the first rays of sunrise as we approached a new airport, country, continent. This last feeling would be duplicated several other times: Madrid, JFK, Paris, Johannesburg, Sydney, but it would always get me back to that night in Guarulhos. This was the first, vague memory I have of aviation. 300 flights later I still get goosebumps every time I board a triple seven, and immediately remember the battleship grey bird. - Ricardo

I was in boarding a plane in Vegas when I saw someone with a really colorful Cirque du Soleil bag. I complimented them on the bag and boarded the plane (it's so colorful it would be easy to spot - always a plus with bags for me). The person ended up sitting next to me so I asked them where they got the bag from. I've seen a lot of Cirque shows in Vegas, and always look around in gift shops after the shows, but I had never seen that bag. She told me she worked at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal. We talked off and on in the flight about Cirque shows, Vegas, and then Montreal. I told her I was planning a trip to Montreal for a half marathon, and she said to let me know when I was in town and she could give me a tour of Cirque headquarters. A year later I was in Montreal, texted her, and got the tour. It was the coolest thing I did all year. So that's it - complimenting someone on their luggage and making small talk on a plane led to a tour of the Cirque du Soleil headquarters. One of the coolest places I've ever been. - Bret


There was one time when I was travelling home and was looking at some stats about the plane. It was my first time flying on an A220 and I was pretty excited. I noticed the gentleman next to me working on his tablet within the Delta Airlines portal. He noticed me looking and began talking to me. Turns out he was a Delta pilot and was heading home for a quick break before doing a ferry flight to Shanghai! We discussed a huge range of topics that I'll never forget. He invited me to come fly with him on his personal plane when I'm back in town. It had only felt like a few minutes, but the three hour flight had flown by and we were already prepping for landing. I haven't been able to follow up with him, but I think of that interaction regularly! - Kaval

Taking off from SJU on one of the last Delta L-1011s. Still remember the sounds of those rolls Royce engine - Michael

On my way to the Philippines, I had the opportunity to watch the sun set over the Pacific at 40,000 feet. It truly was a sight to behold and it's an image that will stay with me! - Anthony

Every single time I fly to New York City (LGA and EWR approaches) I am amazed by the beauty of the city (especially at night)! - Adam

I was in the fifth grade and I was terrified of flying. We had just taken off from EWR and was headed to Miami. I was in the window seat (big mistake). I gripped the armrests as the plane rose up off the ground, now the we were off the ground I was a little anxious. But then it happened, the plane banked... I looked out of the window (another big mistake) and then passed out as I couldn’t overcome the fear that I was falling back towards the earth. Crazy story but I am better at flying now. 😅 - Samir


Second-ever solo flight. On initial climb, the engine started running very rough, shaking the entire airframe. I started crosswind turn early to limp it around but realized it could not climb or maintain altitude. Declared an emergency and rolled the other way into the “impossible turn,” followed by an uneventful landing. For some reason the FAA didn’t give me my certificate for that; I had to take the checkride anyway! - Zach

I started my amazing career as a flight attendant back in 2016. After finishing my 6 weeks of training, I was ready to take on the world. While I had a list of destinations I wanted to visit, the thing that was at the top of my bucket list was to fly on the 747. Being so new to the industry, I knew my chances of working on the 747 were slim since these aircraft were mainly used for international flights and those flights were usually staffed by senior flight attendants. Nonetheless, the day came where I was assigned a trip that had a flight segment from IAD to ORD and it was being operated on a 747! Before it was time for passengers to board, I gave myself a quick tour of the plane. I was awestruck at how big it was. For this particular segment I worked in the business galley and was geeking out when I saw the galley cart “elevator” that was used to send meals to the upper deck. To make the experience even sweeter, one of the passengers brought apple pies from their bakery for the crew to share.

Even though the flight was less than 2 hours, getting to work on the Queen of the Skies was something I’ll never forget. There is something regal and magnificent about the 747 that no other plane will be able to match. I have many fond memories from my flights, but this was definitely one of my favorites. - Andy


First flight lesson I took when I was 11. I was always obsessed with all things aviation, but actually getting into a Cessna and flying an aircraft for the first time is a magic experience I wish everyone had the opportunity to have. - Daniel


Growing up, we never had the money to travel via air, so I never really experienced flying on aircraft often. My most memorable experience was when I started to travel for work - it was my first time on a wide body 757 at the age of 30. The sound of the Roll Royce turbines spooling up brought be back to memories experienced only on simulator games. - Michael


One of the most memorable moments I had was when I moved to Los Angeles to transfer to another University. It was a hard decision: I have to move all by myself (my family lives in another country on the other side of the world), not knowing anyone in L.A. nor what to expect. The day of the move, I dragged three suitcases and my heavy backpack down the steps to a train station that took me to the Airport. As I sat down, catching my breath from hauling all my stuffs, I got a notification on my phone that my flight was canceled. I freaked out thinking about all the move-in appointments I'll miss and all that stressful jazz. I think to myself "this is not at all a good start to a new life in a new place." When I arrived at the airport, I immediately approached the check-in counter. Holding my tears, I told the lady behind the counter of how I need to somehow get on a flight by a certain time, and how it would mean the world to me if she could help me find a solution. She was very patient and listened to me, and by sheer luck, she was actually able to put me on an earlier flight that got delayed, and I would be able to arrive earlier than if my original flight wasn't delayed. The flight itself was also wonderful: the crew was very nice, the sky was clear, by all means a perfect weather to fly. And the landing was also one of the smoothest I've had. What started out as something I thought would be disastrous, turned into a story of kindness and wholesomeness that made me feel that I got a wonderful start into the next chapter of my life. I understand that this story is not exactly a story specifically about being on a plane, but I think for me it encapsulates the whole aspect and emotions that travel—and aviation—evokes within us: that moment that signified a start of something. Whether a it's the start of a vacation, a new job prospect, or in my case, a new life. And for aviation specifically, I personally always admire the fact that the experience doesn't only begin and end with a flight, but started all the way back when you stepped into the airport and ended when you stepped out of it. It was a journey in itself, and each part of it is always memorable. - Ben


Last weekend was one of my most memorable moments while flying my Airline Transport Pilot checkride! It was 3.1 hours long (plus the oral exam part) but it went so well, it was surreal. The weather was gorgeous - light/variable winds, smooth for the most part, but I was "under the hood" flying simulated IFR for most of the checkride due to the requirements.

The lead up to the checkride was 5 hours of waiting (for FAA paperwork issues) then a 3 hour oral exam, 1 hour of demonstrating preflight and getting weather, then the flight. While I was flying the flight, I kept thinking about how I just needed to do one thing, then the next thing, then the next. The 3.1 hours flew by as I went through 4 simulated engine failures, 4 instrument approaches (plus 2 missed approaches), 3 types of stalls, and other various items.

At the end of the checkride, it felt so amazing as I landed on my last simulated single engine landing and taxiied back to the ramp. After shutting down the airplane, the examiner told me I passed! It was an amazing feeling that had started with the first takeoff and continued through to the last landing. After several months of hard work, study, simulator and airplane flying, it felt amazing to be done with the checkride. I can now say that I am a Airline Transport Pilot - Multiengine. The first picture is right after I passed (it was too dark by then to take a picture) and the second is a few days later when I went out to thank the airplane and get some better photos! - Laura


Bakcountry camping at Johnson Creek in Idaho. I flew in with my partner, Jennifer, and met a couple of friends who'd arrived the prior day. It was Jennifer's first time into a backcountry strip and she was both thrilled and scared (her words). I'd done some backcountry before, and had taken training about eight years ago. Johnson Creek was on my bucket list, and it did not dissappoint. Camping was great and oh WOW the amenities: Six hot showers (no waiting), a charging pavalion with wifi, a small freezer for refreezing water bottles, free firewood, coffee served t 5 AM, a microwave, two courtesy vehicles to check out nearby Yellow Pine. Oh, and did I mentioned how much this cost - $0!!! The runway is 3400' x 120' and watered on a regular basis. But the best part was that it is so smooth, that the take-off was a dream. Everyone should add this location to their bucket list. And yes, I know it will be more crowded, but coffee each morning watching over two dozen planes take off was a lifetime memory. - Keith


My spouse and I were flying on a 777 back from Hawaii and it was our first big trip. It was also my first 777, we always film the take off and landings as he is obsessed with planes. What makes it so memorable was flying over the ocean and seeing all the colors of the sky. Seeing the shadow of the plane over the water and the engines just humming along. It really brought the beauty of flying to the fore front along with the vibrant colors you could only see from that high up. I developed a new passion for planes that day. :) - Yrral


I hadn’t been on a jet plane, or even set foot inside an international airport, since I was a little kid. All my memories of that first experience were fuzzy and skipped like an old movie. Now, it was 2014, I was 18 and a floundering freshman in college, and my dad and I were heading from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh to watch my brother’s last college swim meet. I’ll never forget that our seats were in the very last row. Dad let me take the window seat. I didn’t know the first thing about airplanes or how they fly, and I was pretty nervous about the takeoff. My blood pounded when takeoff thrust was set. But as soon as we left the ground I let out an involuntary squeal of joy and a huge smile spread over my face that I could not erase. On the way home I flew alone since my dad had to stop in Chicago on business. That day, navigating the airport by myself and anticipating that takeoff moment again, was the day I fell in love with aviation. I just didn’t know it yet. Leaving the ground in Pittsburgh, I was beaming uncontrollably and I looked at the faces around me, seeking someone else’s eyes who was enjoying the moment as much as I was. People were reading, sleeping, frowning. The man next to me didn’t stop doing crosswords for two whole hours. I couldn’t believe their lack of enthusiasm. Thus began my aviation journey. It would be a long time before I caught up with my calling, but I got my pilots license 6 years later, on May 3rd, 2020. - Charity


When I was five, I was already hooked on planes. Every weekend, my parents would bring me to an aeropark in suburban Chicago so I could watch the planes take off and land up close. One day, four WWII trainers painted in bright yellow landed. They were the aerobatic group known as Lima Lima, and they flew DCH-1 Chipmunks. As they rolled out to their parking spot and swung around all cool-like for the small crowd that had amassed, my tiny kid brain was exploding. The pilots got out and saw me gawking, and a younger pilot invited me and my mom in for a closer look. As I got close, he told me to sit in the cockpit and I scrambled in before he could finish the sentence. Sitting so low on the seat, all I could see were buttons, switches, and a wall of gauges in front of me that I had no idea what they meant. But somehow I knew that I’d be a pilot that second on. As I was absorbing all of what the pilot had to say, I saw a weird metal fabricated fixture on the cockpit. When the pilot saw what I was looking at he flipped it open, and it was literally a hand-made holder and dispenser for Juicy Fruit. So that exact moment, sitting awestruck in a plane that was easily ten times older than I was, with a Juicy Fruit. Although I Never flew in that plane, that was my best experience in one, ever. Now I’m a pilot with a seaplane rating, and a piece of Juicy Fruit had a pivotal role in it! - Benjamin


First time upfront on a plane!! Used award miles for Global First on United airlines to Brazil in 2012. Got hooked on miles and points and everything aviation related since. And now I work for an airline!! - Archit


So my story is not so much about being on a plane, but my love for commercial aircraft and the industry. It all started when I was young and my Dad took me to the airport to pick up my grandparents. We went to the observation deck and I just remember looking at the planes and how amazing they were/are. I was hooked.

My first flight was from Albuquerque to El Paso on Southwest. You would of thought I had just won the lottery. The 45 minute flight was one of the best memories I have ever had.

From then on my love of commercial aircraft, the industry, and even flight crew has been a big part of my life. My collection of commercial aircraft models grows, there is no more wall space for my vintage airplane advertising posters, and my collection of books on commercial aircraft is over 100. And my aircraft magazines that come every month!

I watch countless flight trip reports on YouTube and dream of flying Emirates first class!

I also love flight attendants. I love the style, flair, and how the career has evolved. It is a tough job now in days, but it is still a career I would one day aspire to do.

There are a few photos here that show just a bit of my love of airplanes: ~Me at the Delta flight museum inside a Boeing 767 on display ~Me serving Delta passengers on a flight from LIS to JFK in 2020. I got to be friends with the crew and they let me play the part ~Me in front of a green screen creating our wedding safety video. My husband and I created a wedding safety video that we showed during the cocktail reception. This included showing were the bar was, obeying the DJs do not play list and more! I can send you the link if you want to see the final product ~And finally photos from our wedding. You will see the touches that we added. The big table has a selection of my model planes, our cake had my husbands love of comics and airplanes mixed in. Our photos were taken at Gravely Point near DCA There were so many details about the wedding that made it unique. The cake filling was Biscoff cookies. The welcome card was inspired by a safety card. And our programs were created by an artist that meshed our love of planes and comics ~And my trip to the fabulous TWA Hotel at JFK. What an amazing trip and time I had.

So this story does not have one memory, but my love for commercial aircraft and the industry. I love flying, I love the science of flying, and I love all that encompasses flight.

I cant wait be to back on a plane again. Sitting by the wing. Listening to the engines. Marveling at the force of turbulence. Being in Airports. And finally, just travelling and enjoying everything that comes with it. **I thought I could send multiple pictures so I sent our wedding cake picture and more more. Let me know if I can send more - Dominic


“Jacket 47 gooooooood evening. Taxi Alpha, Alpha 1, Bravo, Bravo 1, wind 160 at 14 altimeter 29.97,” said the all too familiar ground controller. As I released the brakes and pulled out of the tie down spot to taxi, the only thing on my mind was that this was just another ordinary flight. You see, as pilots, it’s very easy to take flying for granted. We hear the same ATIS followed by the same taxi instructions to the same runway headed in the same general direction. It’s often times all too same and this time was, quite frankly, just the same. However, in the back of the plane today was my brother. A young soul, fresh into the world of aviation, tagging along for a night flight across the Dallas, TX skyline. Tonight’s goal was to hop over to a nearby airport, do a few night landings, and then head home. I sat in the left seat of the glass-panel Piper Seminole, a plane that I had grown to enjoy flying as I learned the beauty of the multi-engine airplane. My instructor occupied the right seat and the 3 of us made our way to the run up area. Shortly after the runup, I approached the hold short line and made my call. “Tower, Jacket 47, runway 18, ready for departure.” Tower replied, “Jacket 47 runway 18 cleared for take off fly runway heading.” As I advanced the throttle to bring the airplane across the hold short line, I began my usual routine of sarcastically talking to myself. “LIGHTS, PITOT HEAT, TAKE OFF TIME. Alrighty folks I see 18, the compass says 18 and we were cleared for…you guessed it…18. We’re gonna hold the brakes, mixture, props, throttle, power comes to 20 inches. Green, green, green, everything is in the green. The grinch is also green. Full throttle. Release the brakes.” The plane threw me back into my seat as it jolted forward to begin tearing down the runway. The two engines of the Seminole are no GE 90s, but big enough to get the adrenaline going. “There’s 30, 40, 53, 65 nose starts to get light, 75 annnndddd rotate. Positive rate and through 88 below 109 gear coming up.” As the plane continued to climb like it did every other day I flew it, I began to look in the direction I would eventually turn to. I could see the yellow halo of the thousands of lights that illuminated the dark sky over Dallas. I could see the familiar buildings and colors of the Dallas skyline. 500 feet AGL and I was already excited for the night flight as the plane climbed like a homesick angel. As I looked to engage the autopilot, I did one final glance outside and in that moment all I saw was the beautiful yellow glow disappear from my front windshield. “Oh shit. That’s an engine failure.” The nose of the aircraft violently jerked left as the loss of an engine eliminated our climb and coordination. I pushed hard on the yoke to bring the nose down, lifting everyone out of their seats like the initial drop of a roller coaster. I could feel the blood rushing into my body as I said “think, think, think. What comes next?” You spend countless hours practicing stalls, engine failures, engine fires, all for it to lead up to this moment. However, nobody accounts for the “oh shit” factor. Realizing, that I wasn’t going to think my way out of this, I let my mind lose and my body take control. My hands moved swiftly through the cockpit like a pianist playing Beethoven’s last symphony. “Control, power, drag, identify verify,” I said, as I cleaned up the aircraft with seamless flows. “Tower, jacket 47 we’re coming back around.” A quick glance at my airspeed and the rest was left for intuition. There was no time to think. There was no time to square my turns. This landing was going to strictly be experience. Whether or not my brother or instructor said anything will always be a mystery as my mind was locked in and all the external distractions locked out. This was my airplane, and I was going to land it. I made my doglegged turn to final and did my final check “gear, flaps, gear.” As I held the plane in a steady descent, I could hear Hans Zimmer’s No Time for Caution playing through my Bose A20’s. Through the music, my instructor’s next few words echoed through the headset. “Both engines are yours for landing. Take it on the roll.” In disbelief, I slowly took both throttles and nudged them forward to verify what I had heard. Through the distraction of a passenger and his silence during the engine failure, that sly sucker got me. It was just a simulated engine failure. - Tahir


When my grandparents took me to London for the first time as my HS graduation present, my grandfather had spent years traveling BA for business. He knew EVERYONE. They upgraded us to first class. My first experience traveling internationally was BA first class when it was absolutely amazing. I will forever treasure that trip as my grandfather recently passed away and is the reason I love planes. My love of planes has also shown up in my relationship as my partner and I can spend HOURS debating which passenger jet is better. We plan trips around what airline museums we can go to. We try to book flights on aircraft we’ve never been on even if it’s super out of the way - Samantha


DRO approach - Michael

I’ve spent the last two and a half years working to hold a professional pilot degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I was always focused on my schoolwork during high school so I never had any time to work on starting my flight training until flight training became my school. The last two and a half years of blood, sweat, and tears (and a whole lot of money), was finally rewarded when I had the opportunity to fly back up to my home town while working on my Commercial Multi-Engine Addon. With some special help from one of the assistant chief flight instructors I was cleared to make the 400 mile journey back home with my flight instructor. I’ve never been able to share what I do with my family being far away, it was so rewarding to really be able to show them what I do and show them what they’ve been supporting since day one. It was an absolute blast full of sight seeing, great life conversations with my instructor, and running into a familiar face or two stopping for dinner and making new friends with ERAU alumni working the sector in South Carolina at the time as we returned back to Florida. As I continue through flight training to now become a CFI, I use that trip as my motivation and my drive to keep working hard and to eventually share those aviation moments with other people who will be my students one day. - Matt


Passing the FAA academy - Steven

My first time on a plane when I was 4 years old. I am now 18. I remember my first time vividly because I am from Los Angeles and when I was flying out of LAX for the first time ever, I remember watching all those planes around me through the window seat as we were taxing to take off from the runway. The flight was smooth but my favorite memory was seeing all those aircrafts and airlines that are no longer in service and still remembering to this day what they look like. From that day on is how I fell in love with Aviation and why I’ve always wanted my career to be related to it. I’ve chosen the pathway of being an Aerospace Engineer. - Jason


I was in college in Nashville TN and was at the airport waiting to fly home for the Christmas break. When I arrived at the airport, I saw the dreaded line of death and saw a classmate. He informed me there was a snowstorm in the Midwest and all the flights were being cancelled. He was going to rapid City south dakota and had been rerouted to denver I believe and had to stay the night. I was going to sioux falls south dakota and had already decided that I wasn't going to spend a night in some random airport when I stepped up to the counter. When I told the check-in agent where I was going he immediately chuckled and said to his mate "hey we actually got one!" If this wasn't confusing enough he didn't waste anytime and said "hurry and take your bags (even my checked one... This was pre 9/11!) And go to gate such and such. Hurry!" I hustled through and arrived at the gate and was immediately ushered into... A completely empty plane (except for the 2 pilots and 2 flight attendants). One of the flight attendants explained the plane had to be rerouted to sioux falls directly to start the day there tomorrow and instead of needing to go to st Louis annd connect I would be going directly to sioux falls. She added I could have any seat I wanted. Only time in my life I used the paid earphone... To call my parents to say I would be 2.5 hrs early! - Jayme


When I was 8 years old, my grandpa took me up in his small kit-fox airplane. I remember it so well because it was a life changing experience. Looking out the window and seeing a totally different view of earth. 8 years later that same kid is now flying Cessnas on his own, but still looking out the window in awe. - Ethan


My most memorable experience was when a flight delay caused me to miss my connector and I was stranded in the Seattle airport overnight. Then, on the flight home we had to make an emergency landing to refuel but were diverted to 2 different airports in Los Angeles! I enjoyed the experience and thought it was a neat journey:) - Connor

Frustration and burnout. Two things you never expect to feel when you begin the journey to becoming a pilot. As I practiced landing after landing, my frustrations grew, and after a particularly rough day of touch and goes, my instructor, seeing the tell-tale signs of student pilot burnout decided it was time to “leave the nest” and do a cross country. That day I was sent home with the task of planning a night cross country from KCMA to KLGB using the Coastal Route over LAX.

When the night for the flight came, I pulled out my headlamp, red light at the ready and breezed through the preflight, excited to hop into the C172 and get cleared for a right downwind departure. Once en route and provided the blessing that is flight following, it was time to request clearance into the Bravo. I was walked through the radio calls by my instructor and with his help managed to keep the frequency clear of any stutters.

When cleared through the Bravo via the Coastal Route, I settled in to navigating and found my eyes beginning to truly grasp the sight right outside my window. The sea of lights beneath me pierced through the black of the night, giving the darkness of the sky a hazy glow. Then my instructor pointed out the window, identifying the lights of LAX and all I could think was that my two eyes were not truly seeing this. I didn’t want to blink, I didn’t want a second of the moment to be wasted on darkness when the lights below had been so successful in penetrating it.

In that moment, I was amidst everything I aspired to be, everything that had drawn me to aviation. I was sharing the sky with seasoned airline pilots, flying over the airport I had travelled out of a plethora of times, and watching the distant flashing lights of fellow aircraft. I once again felt like a child, legs swinging off the edge of a window seat, gazing out at the city lights. Thinking of my younger self, I felt I had completed a childhood dream. No longer was I sitting idle in a passenger seat, wishing on passing planes to be able to fly one one day. I was there, flying a plane over Los Angeles.

I was giddy, reminded why I had started to fly in the first place and my love for it reignited. I felt reinvigorated, ready for any struggle. After all, who would want to give up on a view like the one in front of me? - Raquel


I was on a flight to Paris with a connection in NYC when I was “sleeping” because of the aadmirals pre flight drinks. I was suddenly woken up with the flight attendants preparing the cabin for which I thought for a landing. I look to a stranger seat mate and ask what’s going on? He said “emergency landing, we are going down!” I looked to him and said without thinking “STFU” he said, no you “STFU and buckle up and brace” Turns out there was smoke coming from one of the engines and we landed in STL! Landed with first responders surrounding us! I get rerouted and wanted to rent a car to drive home. Called my parents and my non emotion showing father told me to continue living my dream of traveling! He talked sense into me and that was one of the most memorable flights ever. Made me much closer to my father. (February 2006) - Efren


My experience comes from the beginning of my career as an FA at Horizon. We were working a quick flight from SEA-YVR as one of many PNW turns that day. An elderly woman connecting from an Emirates flight was brought down as a pre-board. When she arrived at the front steps of the plane it was clear she was scared (a Q400 is a significantly smaller plane than the 777 she had come in on) and she did not speak any English. I did my best to calm her nerves as I helped her to her seat and offered her some water. The flight was short so there was no service but I walked through the cabin to check on her before landing. She was the last passenger to deplane in YVR so I again took her by the hands and led her down the stairs to her waiting wheelchair. As I turned to head back to the plane she reached up, put both hands on my face and with tears in her eyes said something to me in a language I didn’t recognize. I don’t know the specifics of what she said to me on that day, but the meaning was crystal clear. She taught me that acts of kindness can radically impact the world around me. I’ve taken that moment to heart and continue to carry that experience with me every time I step on a plane. - Justin


One of the most memorable moments on a plane, I was 15 or 16 at the time and I was in a Cessna 172, Flying out of SYR, I was riding in the copilot seat, once we got up to cruising altitude, the pilot said go ahead and take the controls, he let me fly around a little and then shortly after he show me what positive and negative G-Forces felt like, we flew around a little longer. Landed at Oswego County Airport (FZY) took a little break and flew back into Syracuse. - James

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