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  <your background>
1.Q Tell me about the first time you can remember being thrilled.
1.A When I was a small child (6-8 years old) my father had a Pontiac GTO. He used to drive very fast. I loved the speed and acceleration.
2.Q What's been your most frightening thrill ever?
2.A This is a toss up between two events. (1) Spelunking in a deep cave in PA two friends and I had been underground for 5 hours and lost all lights before we made our egress. We weren’t equipped to spend the night in the cave. It took us several hours to egress the last few hundred meters in a 3D environment in absolute blackness. (2) Flying from San Diego, CA to Clovis, NM for Thanksgiving. I got caught in a developing thunderstorm and experienced severe turbulence. I was being sucked up into a developing storm at 2500ft/min on the VSI while rocking and rolling past 90 degrees with full control deflection. I somehow managed to make my alternate landing site.
3.Q What's the smallest or slightest thing to have thrilled you?
3.A nursing a baby bird back to health and setting it free.
4.Q Tell me why you're not a sensible person.
4.A I commute to work on an Aprilia Falco lane splitting traffic (filtering traffic to you) 35 miles each way every day. I have a wife with two small children; I should probably be more careful as I am the sole bread winner. Too many risk factors outside of my control. People really do drive on the freeway while drinking coffee, reading the newspaper and talking on the phone all at the same time!!! I have seen it.
5.Q What were you doing the last time you were really bored?
5.A Playing a computer game. Americas Army RPG online.
6.Q What's the most uninhibited thing you've ever done?
6.A Tough call, I’m a pretty private person. I went skinny dipping once when I was in high school.
7.Q What things have you considered doing for thrill, but were too concerned about the risks?
7.A I ride a dirt bike. I have had it on the track but have never gotten up the nerve to jump much. I haven’t got the nerve to try a double.
8.Q I always dreamt about being a paramedic, driving an ambulance and saving lives; what about you?
8.A Astronaut, Astronaut, Astronaut. The human race needs to continue its exploring heritage whether it is practical or not and regardless of the risks. If people are willing to go, we should send them. Society, especially the USA public, is too adverse to risk with regard to loss of life. There is a protectionist mentality prevalent today.


  <your thrill>
  To answer these next 14 questions, you should think about a particular time you were thrilled.
9.Q Describe this thrill in a nutshell, in one sentence. (there's time to expand later)
9.A A particularly memorable thrill was my first solo flight in N5069F.
10.Q Where and when did it take place?
10.A It occurred at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, CA (KCRQ) in June 1995.
11.Q Tell me a bit about yourself around this time.
11.A I was single but looking forward to getting engaged to my now wife. I had recently moved across the country (from Pittsburgh, PA to San Diego, CA) and begun my professional career.


12.Q How did the moment arise? Was it planned?
12.A It was certainly planned. I was the culmination of months of preparation.


13.Q List the sequence of events leading up to your thrill, and how you felt at each stage. The smallest detail could be important (this is your chance to expand).

This was another training session after work in the winter. As a result, this like many of my training flights, the flight occurred at dusk. My instructor and I preflighted the aircraft and took off for some take-off and landing practice in the Citabria. After a few successful trips around the airfield, my instructor asked me to taxi back to the hangar. When we got to the hangar he got out and said, “Take it around 3 times.” I was shocked. We had not discussed that today would be my SOLO day.

I climbed back in feeling anxious but ready. Then my instructor started in with the “what if” scenarios. “What happens if you lose the engine 1/3 of the way down the runway?” “Just after lift off?” “500 ft” [God, I know that this engine is going to quit!] “What if there’s a fire?” “What if another plane declares an emergency?” I guess that I answered all of his questions correctly, I don’t remember. I just remember that my legs were shaking uncontrollably now and that I knew that the engine was going to quit.

The airport had been pretty quiet, but as I switched over to Tower frequency I noticed a lot more chatter. I was cleared for takeoff. I quickly ran through the takeoff checklist. Pushed the throttle forward and wow, she is a lot more responsive without the 200lb instructor behind me. [gulp, I’m alone] Nose level, there’s Vr, ease back on the stick and I’m flying. Wow, I’m flying. Yeah, I’ve been here before with the instructor but I’m alone, this is all me. No training wheels, my fate is in my hands; nobody can help me now. Turning cross-wind the controller diverts me to the north for incoming traffic. Hmmm. I wasn’t planning on leaving the pattern.

A few minutes later I’m wondering if the controller forgot me. “Citabria 69F, shall I continue to hold 010?” Eventually they got back to me and got me sequenced in with traffic. Landing checklist complete. Controller asks, “69F, can you make short approach for other traffic on final?” Hmm, maybe I should tell her that I’m on my first solo here and to take it easy on me! Nah, and in my best Chuck Yeager voice, “Citabria 69F, wilco short approach, runway 24, full stop.” Controller’s reply, “69F, utilize high speed ramp for traffic on final.” Well, they are really cramming us in tonight. I wonder if they have any clue…

My first landing would have made any carrier pilot proud! My next two trips around the pattern were uneventful but clearly reminded me that I needed a few thousand more landings before I would be “good.”

14.Q At the exact moment of thrill, how did your mind and body feel?

I was clearly in the midst of an adrenalin rush and endorphins were flying when I got the go ahead by my instructor. Preparation was key. Once I pushed the throttle forward all “nerves” were gone, this was business. I was busy performing the checklists that had been drilled into me by my ex-navy pilot instructor. I had what-if scenarios to run in my mind, emergency landing sites to pick out, and situational awareness to consider.

I was remarkably calm both physically and mentally. I even had moments for reflection. [I’m alone, my fate is in my hands, I’d of never guessed that I’ d be here someday; I have wanted to do this…well as long as I can remember, when I have kids I’m going to tell them that dreams can come true and mean it.]

16.Q What did you do immediately afterwards?
16.A Thanked my instructor, called my girlfriend, spent a few extra minutes cleaning up Citabria N5069F almost as a ceremonial way of saying thank you.


17.Q What were the most likely things that could have put you off going through with it?
17.A It was getting dark, depth perception was a concern and landing into the sunset is never easy. I was close to asking to wait until the weekend, but I had been here before. Most of my training sessions were under these conditions.


18.Q How were other people important to your thrill?
18.A This was a very personal moment. It was a childhood dream come true. I suggest that nobody was important to the thrill. My instructor’s confidence gave me confidence and I wanted to share my elation of the moment with my girl friend.
19.Q What do you imagine other people were thinking throughout your thrilling episode?
19.A My instructor was probably thinking, “I hope he is really ready. It is going to effect my record if he crashes and I’m trying to get a job in the airlines! I hope he doesn’t bend the aircraft, technically I’m responsible for it.”
20.Q Some people probably don't understand how such a thing can thrill you; explain it to them.

There are stories of man wanting to fly that date back thousands of years. This is a connection to that past and a success for all of them that I am here. I have wanted to fly since I was a small child. I did it. I actually did it. You really can accomplish anything that you set your mind to. Being a pilot is a precise, controlled exercise, not the thrill seeking stuntman that people often think of it.

I can evaluate the weather, calculate my flight path in the fluid environment called air. I can take off, and with a slide rule, clock, and pencil plot a course to where ever I want to go…and get there. Math works, Physics works, Chemistry works. Weather is fascinating; there is a lot going on up here! [RESPECT!] Wow, the earth is beautiful.


21.Q Why were certain objects or equipment important to your thrill?
21.A The airplane is the vehicle.


22.Q If you've done something like this before, how does the last time compare to the first time you did it?
22.A Every flight is different. Some flights I learn more than I did during that first solo.
23.Q If you did it again, what things could be added or changed to make it even better?
23.A Not a thing.
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what do you find thrilling?