Dreams Taking Flight

Danae Lawson was invited to tour a new high-tech plane with her mentor. (Danae Lawson)

My heart is pounding 100 beats per minute. 

It feels like the ground is moving a mile a minute, and so is my mind. Did I make the right decision? As we pick up enough speed, we start to lift off and the weight of the plane fights against us. The plane tries to pull us down, but I pull up harder. 

Lift off. 

In mid-March, I was sitting in a classroom thinking it would be a normal day for me. Even when my teacher said she had a surprise for the class, I didn’t think too much of it. A man walked through the door — yellow stripes on his black jacket, wings on his hat. Boom. It clicked. He was a pilot. And little did I know, this man would become my aviation mentor. 

At this point, I had no idea I wanted to be a pilot, but I did know I loved being in the sky. When the pilot started to talk, my eyes didn’t move one inch. I was so intrigued about his life, I felt like a kid standing with wonder in a candy shop. Then he shared an opportunity to go to a flight school over the summer — I was sold, and my life wouldn’t be the same without him. 

Flying a plane is not something you can just give up midway; when you’re driving down the runway, it doesn’t make any sense to stop before you’ve even taken off, and it definitely doesn’t make sense to stop running the plane in the middle of a flight.  

Out of all of my hobbies — I also play the violin and wrestle — only flying has taught me this lesson. Why give up now when you are so close? When I fly, I feel like a free spirit, and even though I know it will be a process to get my pilot’s license, it’s going to be worth it. I have seen too many people I know give up in the beginning, but I’m halfway there so I can’t stop now and that’s what keeps me going. 

I think most kids have something they want to accomplish, or a dream they want to achieve, but not every one of them has the chance to fully get there. Maybe they lose passion, maybe they don’t have enough money to proceed, or maybe they’re struggling with personal problems. All of these are totally normal, and sometimes you can get a little lost. 

But I’m choosing to persevere. I will get my private pilot license at a young age because I want to inspire my peers and prove that no matter where you are in life or who you want to be, you can get through it. 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t always follow through with things. I was scared to finish, and self-doubt would often keep me from continuing on. When I have to finish a big project my mind goes blank; but when I Ianded the plane, it wasn’t like that at all. Something pushed me and it was like running a marathon and coming in first place — I felt so relieved. Ever since, I haven’t doubted myself because being pushed to a new level helped me understand that life is truly what you make of it. 

As I grab the wheel, my palms are sweaty as if I dropped a whole bottle of water on them. But as I look down and watch the ground zoom past me, I can’t help but admire the beauty of being able to see the world from all the way up here. The trees and the cars look like tiny ants, and the faster we go, the bigger my smile gets.  

Now that I know what it feels like to fly, I can’t stop looking up.