Robert - Park Ridge, Illinois
Entered on January 16, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

From as far back as I can remember, I have been addicted to the thrill of flying and intrigued by the history of man’s quest to conquer the skies. My fascination with flying started many years ago, when I was only nine years old. My family and I had driven to Florida to visit my grandparents, and when I woke up the next morning, I had no idea my life was about to change forever. I wandered groggily towards the kitchen where everyone had already assembled. I was still in the holds of sleep. I could hear the strange sounding noise of the airport’s automated weather tape that my grandfather had dialed on the house phone, and he was standing over the counter, busily scribbling notes. A few minutes later, still half asleep, I was in the back seat of my grandfather’s Ford Taurus on our way to the airport. My grandfather carefully prepped the airplane for flight and an hour later, we were airborne over the Gulf of Mexico. The sun gleamed in the distance and seemed to rule over the cloudless sky as we passed over the endless beaches and hotels that lined the water’s edge. My grandfather then glanced over at me and asked me if I wanted to take the controls for a bit. I was scared, my hands trembling, as I took over the controls, afraid that I would make a catastrophic mistake that would send the plane spiraling towards the ground. But a miracle occurred and we kept flying straight and level. For the first time in my life, I had a moment of mental clarity that has never been repeated. I knew that I had to fly, that all I would ever be happy doing was flying. I made it my mission to fly whenever and however I could. This past summer, I started flight school and the first time I flew without my instructor, I felt more accomplished than at any other time in my life. From the time I first took the controls of my grandfather’s plane, my love of flight and my desire to pursue a career in flying motivated me to do my best in every endeavor.

For me, flying has been my dream, my escape and above all, my savior. The only thing that has kept me focused through the four years of high school has been my dream of flight and going to the United States Air Force Academy. It has been the main motivating force behind everything I have done. Now that I have been accepted into next year’s class at the Academy, I will hopefully fulfill my dream of becoming a combat pilot, a dream I have had ever since taking the controls of my grandfather’s plane on that gorgeous autumn morning eight years ago. I believe in the value of flight.