The day the words came out of my mouth I knew my parents were shocked. “I want to be a pilot, Mum,” I had said, out of the blue. She had looked at me, astounded. Not because she thought the idea of a pilot was strange or because it wasn’t financially achievable. Simply because she couldn’t comprehend where in the world me, a fifteen year-old, basic, middle class private school girl with absolutely no aviation background or previous interest in the industry could have possibly got an idea like this in her head.
The idea to become a pilot came about after a trip to Australia’s largest rock, Uluru. My father, sister and I were in the Northern Territory to celebrate the 60th Birthday of my Dad’s brother in Alice Springs. After the festivities were over, we thought it would be cool to rent a van and drive the six short hours to Uluru, being sure to stop at all the sights along the way.
With “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles playing on constant repeat, we packed into the cutest little van and set off. We went to all the typical places on the way, including Kings Canyon and Simpson’s Gap. They were beautiful. I really enjoyed them. But we drove there on a man-made road, walked through the rocks on a man-made path, and read man-made signs about the places’ history, doing all the typical tourist things.
We then continued on to Uluru and paid our admission into the national park. We enjoyed a leisurely self-guided tour around the large rock, ensuring to stay behind the fences and follow the required paths. We watched the sunset at the dedicated viewing area, with another hundred odd people also hurrying to get the same shots.
I had caught the plane home alone the next day because I had to get back to my part time job, whilst Dad and my sister continued the trip down to Adelaide. The sun was rising as I jumped on the A320, and there must have been a small dust storm starting to swirl. As we departed and flew over, it had the effect that Uluru was covered by a red halo. It was the most beautiful I had ever seen, let alone on that trip. Not only was it an amazing sight, but I was struck with how real and pure it was. How natural it was.
It was that moment, right there, that I concluded I was going to be a pilot. We had spent the whole week looking at the natural wonders of our country whilst we walked on the path that has been created by someone else. There was nothing that we got to discover and figure out ourselves. There was no challenge to see these things.
I decided I wanted to be a pilot because I didn’t want to just see what is easy and what is common. I wanted to discover the world. The world where sand storms occur on take-off and where every sunset or sunrise is different. The world where you never know what you are going to find until you get out there and find it for yourself.