Since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with aviation and I wanted to become a fighter jet pilot. When my eyesight wasn’t perfect anymore at age 11, this dream faded.
Instead, I decided to become a lawyer because my mum said I could argue very well and the job would fit me. Ally McBeal inspired me further to become a lawyer for more justice in the world.
I decided to focus on human rights and with it came big aspirations and dreams (e.g. working for the UN, although this dream turned into a nightmare when it became reality). After almost a decade, I realised that this career was not right for me anymore. The daily realities of the work and the systems through which we had to work had changed me from being an optimistic idealist to an exhausted cynic.
In 2015, I therefore decided I needed a big change. I wanted out. Out of the job, out of the sector and out of the country (again). I decided I wanted to travel by bicycle from Alaska to Argentina starting in June 2017. The route had been a longtime dream; the method of travel was new. I had never bicycle travelled in my life and a short trip to Zeeland and beyond was my first. It was a good experience and I wanted more.
That was until I travelled to Namibia in 2016. I fell in love with the country. But not only that; I fell in love with skydiving. I was supposed to do just one tandem skydive as a bucket list type of thing (even though I don’t have a bucket list and don’t like the term). However, I didn’t want to land anymore and I booked my second jump that same day.
The next few days and weeks, I could not stop thinking about skydiving. I loved the feeling so much! I even told the instructors: I thought fighter jet pilots had the best job in the world, but you guys get the same thrills without bombing people! I changed my plans and decided to pursue skydive training with the aim of working in it eventually.
Recently, I have been thinking of what I loved as a kid and the many ways I got side-tracked. As a teenager, I wanted to become a rock star (haha!) but I didn’t have a natural fascination with music. I liked playing music, but I didn’t love it to that extent. Even photography, scuba diving and surfing were interests that came along at a later (st)age due to friendships and relationships.
Going back to my nature, what has always fascinated and appealed to me – and still does – is aviation, and horses. Does anyone have a Pegasus for me?
Even during my first skydive, as we got in the plane, I greeted the pilot and looked at the consoles and panel, again with admiration.
I have been lucky that I got to go into cockpits several times when I was a kid.
The first time was when I was 3 or 4 years old and I flew to Portugal with my grandparents. I don’t remember much of that trip, but I do remember standing in the cockpit and seeing all those buttons and gauges.
The best time was in 1999 on a flight to Hong Kong with my parents and sister. I was allowed into the cockpit and to stay there for a while (sitting in one of the seats behind the pilots). The sun had just come up and we were flying above the Himalayas. It was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, I had to go back to my seat in economy class when the plane had to land.
In 2008, I coincidentally got two free flights while backpacking in Southern Africa and during one, I even got to sit next to the pilot!
In 2012, a fighter jet flew over my neighbourhood in Cairo, Egypt. It flew so low and it was so loud, perhaps I should have been scared, but instead, I looked up in fascination and was happy to see the details on the jet from quite close.
And just recently, while in Bangkok for work, I saw two huge army helicopters and one was taking off. I was again incredibly impressed by that machine, just hovering in the air.
And when some of my friends dated pilots, I kept thinking that I don’t want to date one – I want to be one.
The thought that it would be impossible for me to be a pilot had restricted me all those years from exploring this dream further. But it has been appealing to me all this time.
When I was 27, after I had already graduated and was looking for jobs, I thought again about joining the air force. But I was still 2cm too short and by then also a few months too old. Being an airline pilot was an option and I guess it still is, but I never had that particular ambition. Like with my preference for Classic MINIs over big fancy cars, light mountainbikes over sturdy touring bikes and sneakers over fancy shoes, I like small and agile means of transportation. Acro-aerobatic planes or helicopters perhaps?
I am currently looking into options for training and funding to become a helicopter pilot. I have saved up some funds for the bicycle trip turned into skydive training turned into pilot training…? It will not be enough to cover it all, but I could get started, and hopefully finish with a licence before I’m broke…
Would you like to help me realise my dream? I would like to start a crowdlending project, meaning that every penny supported will be paid back when I get paid. I will keep everyone updated on my training through this blog and other social media.
If you’d like to help out, send me a message or you can support me through PayPal. Or just follow my journey and support me in spirit!