|"The engine is the heart of an airplane, but the pilot is its soul." ~Walter Raleigh
“21 years old and I’m starting over! A new beginning entirely, my glass is half full and I am going to Kentucky” That was how I said it and that was how it started. I am Keely Mick. I have a dream of success and I plan on making that dream happen no matter what it takes. I am driven and assertive, optimistic and hopeful. I do not believe in coincidence, and I refuse to believe that there is anything in this world that is entirely unattainable.
”If you can dream it, you can do it.” –Walt Disney
On July 20, 2011 I finished packing up my apartment in Jacksonville, Florida and moved north to Louisville, Kentucky. I was a pre-med student, specifically interested in the study of Nuclear Medicine. It was all fun and games until reality hit me for the first time. I won’t soon forget the way that first, lonely week of August in Kentucky felt, as time seemed to slow and eventually stop. I was miserable. Kentucky was hot and utterly unpleasant, I was without the ocean, I was without my hobbies, I was without my friends and most importantly, I was without my mother.
Luckily, my aunt had a new man in her life, a man that unbeknown to me, was about to change my world. Upon meeting this man I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed a little rough around the edges, I wasn’t entirely afraid of him, only slightly unsure. He was curious and loud, rambunctious and extremely intelligent; perhaps intimidating is the better word. Come to find out, this man is a pilot! He flew an F4 Phantom in Vietnam as a fighter pilot. Today he owns a Diamond DA 40 XL private aircraft.
A month or so went by and I was given an offer I simply could not pass up. My aunt’s new pilot friend had offered to fly me home to see my mother and needless to say, I was ecstatic. Suddenly, I found myself stuttering to find words. I was completely engulfed in a world of bravery and disbelief as to what I had just consented to. I had always been quite terrified of airplanes, the mere idea of flying 5,000 feet in a vehicle no bigger than a mid-sized sedan simply stopped me in my tracks. Nevertheless, a date was set and we were off. On the day of the flight, my feet couldn’t have been more frigid, I was terrified of heights and the fact that this was actually happening to me made me sick with fear. After loading our luggage aboard the Diamond, I sat back and watched ever so intently as the preflight check began. Surprisingly, I found this to be extremely intriguing. Preflight was followed by something called an “ATIS” report and then a radio call to the air traffic control tower. I didn’t have the slightest clue what they were saying or what it meant, as they seemed to be speaking another language entirely. Again I’m intrigued, this was profoundly interesting! Somewhere between that initial radio call and our take off from runway 31, it hit me like a train. Everything was so clear, I was sold. I knew for sure that Nuclear Medicine was never meant to be my career; it was simply the stepping stone that brought me to this very moment. Instantly, I wanted to know everything there was to know about aviation, and I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing this, “this is going to be my career” I concluded to myself.
Once I returned back to Louisville, I immediately dropped my major and began my search for a way into the aviation world. Ironically enough, Groupon was offering a special that week on a “Discovery Flight” out of Bowman Field, (KLOU) in Louisville, Kentucky. “Can this be a coincidence?” I think not. Needless to say, I purchased the coupon and I went. It was there in that private airport that I met Mr. Wagers, who would soon become my very first flight instructor. He was the director for the duration of the included 3 hour Groupon class as well as the pilot during my discovery flight. Turns out, this man is a master CFI (certified flight instructor) and the chief flight instructor for the Academy at Shawnee (www.shawneeflyingeagles.webs.com) which is a Part 141 aviation program in the Jefferson County public school system. Also, he is a Marine Corps veteran; he serves in the CAP’s Kentucky Wing and is a FAASTeam representative in the FAA’s Louisville FSDO area. In a very short amount of time this man became my number one biggest influence in aviation. I could not learn fast enough as he openly shared his wealth of knowledge with me. This man truly is a heroic and a brilliant pilot. He said that he searched for a “spark” in young aspiring pilots; the same “spark” that found him when he discovered flight at the young age of 17. He also said he saw this spark in me, and because of this he took me under his wing. It is because of Mr. Wagers that I am where I am today and in only a few short months I have become completely submerged in aviation. I fear that I will never truly be capable of expressing my sheer gratitude and honest respect for this man and all that he has done in my life.
I could not have asked for a more welcoming experience entering into the exciting world of aviation. I feel extremely lucky to have gotten as far as I have in such a short amount of time. My plan now is to work as hard as I can for as long as it takes. Thank you sincerely to everyone that I’ve met thus far along my journey. I can’t wait to continue pushing onward to the finish line.