Look I'll cut to the chase. My blog is here to share my journey of becoming a private pilot. I know the first thought of many people is: what's the big deal, anyone can get a pilots license if they pay for it. I'll give you it, completely true. What makes my story different? I've been told I would never become a pilot. Why not? On October 8, 2003 I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. No, I didn't eat too much candy, no I wasn't a lazy kid, and no I'm not going to get my leg amputated like your grandmother. Type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease meaning that you can't catch it, it just happens. Some cells attack the wrong cells and bam! your pancreas stops producing the hormone of insulin. Insulin is required to live.
I'm 16 years old and am a sophomore in high school. I'll be brutally honest, I hate school. I always have. I see no point in sitting for 8 hours everyday and having a textbook spoon fed to you by a teacher who is ultimately paid to read a script. I volunteer with the WV Branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) as their walk chair and have ran the Walk to Cure Diabetes two years in a row in Charleston, WV. Last year I recognized at the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for my volunteer work with JDRF. In March of 2013 I was also awarded my Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America.
My true passion in life is aviation. You always hear, everything happens for a reason. That cliché holds true in my life daily. In 2007 my mom was invited to attend a JDRF conference in St. Louis, Missouri. I was in 3rd grade at the time and asked if I could tag along. My parents booked airfare and along with my mom we went to St. Louis by way of Cincinnati, Ohio. We flew on Delta Connection. Delta Connection flights are operated by several regional airlines that fly under the Delta Connection banner, which operate flights for Delta Airlines. I don't remember any of the trip really other then the trip home. We had a tight connection in Cincinnati so we asked the flight attendant if he had the gate information for the Charleston, WV flight. We specifically said WV, as there is a Charleston, SC. Well long story short the flight attendant gave us the gate information for the Charleston, SC flight and we missed our flight back to WV. So, long story made short; after a strew of maintenance and aircraft repositioning delays 9 hours later we boarded our flight to Charleston, WV. Thank God I was stuck in that airport of 9 hours. Something happened when I was there, I caught the aviation bug. Once you're hooked on aviation you're hooked. Today aviation is my life and I've gotten to experience some incredible things and places from aviation. As Steve Jobs once said: "You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards." He was right, I couldn't have connected what happened before it happened, and looking back it all falls into place. If I had a way to contact that flight attendant that gave us the wrong gate information I would thank him for giving us the wrong gate information as that simple mistake changed my life for the better.
As I grew older and learned more about aviation I made the decision that I was going to become a private pilot. It never crossed my mind that this may be hard or impossible with diabetes. Diabetics don't think like that, at least I don't. Diabetes is a medical condition that I have, it doesn't have me. Sadly, the FAA limits type one diabetics to a 3rd class medical certificate. This means I can only become a private pilot. My dream is to be an airline pilot; however, the FAA will not allow me to pass the medical required to do so. I was told I couldn't be a pilot before and that I wouldn't be able to fly with type one. Those comments used to infuriate me until I realized they were pure inspiration to pursue my dream. The wording of those comments can really hurt. "You'll never fly" is the absolute worse. Flying brings the ultimate freedom that life has to offer and to have someone tell you can't experience that really hurts.
I've talked about getting my license for over 5 years now and have finally decided 2014 is my year. I had a huge wake up call in December of 2013 at my 3 month visit to the endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) my A1C was 8.9. This number represents the average blood glucose levels for 90 days. It should be between 6 and 6.5. I knew I needed to change something and I'm ashamed to say almost a month later and very little has changed. Today is January 1, 2014 and today I embark on a journey. I have a few goals this year but they are centered around 3 main goals: fitness, life, and flying. Every New Year is an opportunity for us all to write a 365-page book, might as well write a damn good story. This is my no bullshit story on losing weight, getting in shape, lower my A1C, becoming a better person, and becoming a private pilot. YOLO, you only live once. Usually this is used as an excuse by alcohol fueled teens to do dumb stuff. I'm telling you, you only live once... Make every damn second count. It may start slow but I'm getting my life back on track one step at a time and becoming a pilot in the process. This isn't just a story, it's my life. Welcome aboard.