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Posts tagged ‘helicopter’

The Best Damn Pilot There Ever Was.

When I began writing this post, I was sitting in the San Antonio airport… My hands were shaking I was so full of anxiety. No, I’m not afraid of flying – quite the opposite in fact, I love to fly. It is the place I was going that had me terrified. Going home.

I lot has happened since I last posted, and I have been waiting until I the timing was right post this. Many of you have been following along with me on my boyfriend’s journey of becoming a flight instructor in helicopters this year, and most recently landing his first flying job a few months ago. You joined us in celebration of both of these accomplishments – and in achieving his greatest dreams. We were both overwhelmed by all the comments everyone left us about his story… that is why it saddens me to have to share this all with you.

Drew was flying up in Washington state on a 2 month contract drying cherries… on the afternoon of June 12th, he was riding along with another pilot to get a sense of the job requirements (always his way to try and get as much information as possible before having to go out and fly). While over one of the cherry orchards, they hit power lines and went down hard. It is my most devastating news to tell you that he did not survive.

The love of my life, my best friend, and the person who has inspired me most… did not survive. The man who was going to propose to me in a few months – i have learned – when he returned from this trip… the proposal for which I have dreamed of and imagined in my heart for several years. I had just picked out my wedding ring a week before the accident – the most beautiful ring I have ever laid eyes on. I was so excited that I started to show it to everyone I know. The man I wanted to have a family with and grow old with. Those few weeks before the accident, we had started talking about details of a wedding, and were just so full of excitement we could not stop ourselves. It was the happiest and most beautiful time of my life.

I have known loss, but this has been the scariest and hardest thing I have ever dealt with in my life. I lost my mother when I was 9, my father when i was 27, and I honest-to-God thought that somehow made me safe from losing any more people prematurely. I used to jokingly tell him “You know, you can’t ever die flying because I’ve already lost so many people, if you did it would just be like God hates me” *sigh* Really universe… really?!

And of course he was an amazing and talented pilot.. such that I believed 100% in his abilities, and trusted 100% in his decisions. I always said that if anyone could get out of a bad situation it was him. Unfortunately, he was not the one flying and never had any control of that situation. It’s not to say it would have been a different outcome, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow and always will be.

And now I am faced with a new reality, one that is so immensely unknown and terrifying. It will take years of healing, which right now feels like an almost insurmountable task to have to experience one day at a time. Especially when days feel like weeks right now. Fr now, its just living day by day, because doing anything more than that is not even possible. I still have my own dreams and ambitions, and you better believe that I am still going to achieve them. But for right now, there is only energy enough to survive and find joy anywhere I can.

I am sharing this with you, because you were part of the joyful journey, and you deserve to be part of the whole journey. And because this blog is about my life – the whole of it – not just the creativity… because the creativity comes from who I am and what I experience.

I am not sure how often I will be posting creative things for a while – everything is an unknown right now. All I do know is that writing is very important to me, and helps me to heal, so I will write whatever comes my way to the blog here.

So here I am now, finishing writing this post. It’s my first full day back home in Dallas and I am thoroughly exhausted. I have spent the month down in South Texas with his family – whom have made it very clear I am part of the family and always will be. I cannot imagine a more healing place to have been during all of this. The outpouring from friends and family alike has been overwhelming… and I do not know how on earth I would have survived thus far without all this love surrounding me. Even in the worst loss in my life, I cannot help but feel so incredibly blessed by the loving arms he has left me in the care of.

I struggle to find a way to wrap this up (and realize that I’ve probably rambled quite a bit), so I will just say thank you. Thank you for listening and for caring. I am grateful for every kind soul who has been brought into my life, and right now, more grateful than ever. It’s going to be a long, hard road from here forward – but to have been loved so fully by a man who inspired me daily has changed my life forever. I am a new person because of him. One of the things he loved most about me was my ability to find joy in even the darkest of times. So that is what I will do – day by day – I will find joy again, for myself and for him. Andrew Douglas Ridge, I love you forever.




The Right Attitude & The First Flying Job!

For those of you who found my blog via Freshly Pressed a little over a month ago, you’ll recall the post I wrote about my boyfriend Andrew completing his Flight Instructor Certification for helicopters. I’m ecstatic to update you guys that within a month of getting his cert done, he has found his first commercial flying job! To even have a chance at a job within a month of finishing this level of training is pretty unheard of, much less actually landing the thing. Many heli pilots spend 6 or more months trying to get that first job. Obviously we’re pretty excited!

The other great part is that he will be flying around the state of Texas mostly, so for now he will not have to move halfway across the country. Always a bonus when we don’t have to live far apart! He just left Monday for his first gig, flying rides at a small town fair in East Texas. And could it get better? Why yes, it does. His birthday it today… and he has deemed this the best present he could have gotten. I know not everyone believes in the universe working with you, but I sure do. And I definitely happen to think the universe is pretty darn in-tune with him right now. Good stuff. I could not be happier for him.

I thought I’d share something he wrote last year to some fellow helicopter pilots. I think it really applies to being successful in any field and says a lot about what attitude can do for you…

“Attitude… The attitude you have every day when you walk into the flight school will have a big effect on how successful you are at this pilot thing. I don’t mean just having a good self concept and being confident that you can learn this stuff, but even after that when you’re getting close to [Certified Flight Instructor] and wondering what your next step is going to be.

I look around at the 20 or 30 people I know who started about the same time as me. Only a few have jobs. Why? Part of it is that they went into flight school with a good attitude. They knew they could learn the material and they did. What’s more, when the bottom fell out of the helicopter job market, they kept trying. They kept a good attitude, they moved when needed, and they just kept at it until someone gave them a shot.

They’re all people who carry themselves well, who act professionally and really don’t complain too much. This is not an industry for whiny people. There will be many times in your career where you may end up back at square one and have no idea what the next move is.

I’m not saying the ONE factor that will GUARANTEE a job is a good attitude, but let’s face it… People don’t want to hire miserable people as the face of their company. They want confident, happy people who know when and how to deal with the frustrations that come with a down economy. Sure, a good part of at least two of those jobs was being in the right place at the right time, but there were 100 people behind them going for the same job, too.

Anyway, when going into this helicopter thing, just know it’s not always blue skies and calm winds. It’s tough out there, and you will have to learn how to keep your head up.”

Nicely done sir. I look forward to giving some future updates every few months about what he’s up to and where he’s flying… lots of rides at fairs around Texas, a  tactical shooting course or two (i.e. people shooting targets out of helicopters for training), and perhaps even some cherry drying up in Washington state! Oh the adventures =)

Inspiration: Surpassing Limits & Achieving Goals

So today my inspiration does not come from a sculpture or a photograph – but from my best friend and counterpart, who for the past few years has worked hard, kept an open mind, and grown in so many incredible ways along the road…

Andrew has been working tirelessly towards his goal of becoming a flight instructor this past year… at last, today was the big day – the final check ride as it is called. From 8am to around 4pm he taught lessons, answered questions, talked about regulations, worked out scenarios and did a final flight with the chief pilot. Yes, that’s like an 8 hour final exam. Phew! And at the end of this tiring day – which comes at the end of a tiring year – he has passed and is now a Certified Flight Instructor in helicopters.

I can still remember a little over year ago, when this goal seemed so large and so daunting to this person. I remember it wasn’t easy to commit to finishing this last leg of his flight training – and it took some time. I remember my being frustrated and not understanding why he was having such a tough time. I was pushy (oh those old habits..) and he was stressed and we were really quite grouchy with each other. I remember realizing that being pushy was NOT helping a thing – and then learned instead to be supportive and listen to what he really needed from me. And then I remember watching him begin to tackle it (as we always say… how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!). I remember him taking on a full time job and being so full of worry as to how on earth he was going to get all his studying done with work. But he did (while also kicking quite a bit of butt at work too, I might add). And now, on this big day, he is looking back and seeing that he tackled this thing which seemed so immense and insurmountable before.

It’s a beautiful thing to be there when someone achieves something in their lives that they previously did not see themselves capable of. In that achievement, they expand their own view of themselves. They find a new part of who they are and a deep sense of pride, confidence and inner joy radiates from it. It is no doubt inspiring and infectious, and I count myself lucky to have been here to share in it! I’ve watched as he’s pushed himself to his very limits and kept on pushing – only to realize that his true limits are much farther than what he had ever perceived. Here’s to you, Andrew, I am so excited for you as you embark on the newest chapter of your life. In the words of one Dr. Seuss… “Oh! The places we will go!”

Introducing The Lil’ Felt Heli!

Hey there!

Just wanted to take a quick moment to share my latest creation!

This lovely little aircraft was made for my boyfriend – who is a helicopter pilot – for Valentine’s Day. The first flight he took me on was in a blue helicopter like this – so I thought it was fitting. This is also my first attempt at adding wire into the process – really love the mix of the two! I finished it off with an inspirational handwritten note on a paper tag and my initials stitched into the back. I’m really having way too much fun with this felting stuff… as soon as I finished this little guy I was already trying to figure out what to start next. No idea where this sudden burst of creative energy came from… has some alien life form taken over my mind? lol.

Oh well, going to ride the creative wave as long as it lasts!


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