The Aviation Spark

Nicole Lund

 

My sister, Lauren, in the pink and me in the blue.

 

The question I am asked most often is "how did you get involved in aviation?". Most student pilots have parents or relatives that are pilots who helped them get a foot in the door. However, I do not come from a family with a background in aviation. So, where did the spark to become a pilot come from?

The first time I flew on an airplane, I was four years old and on my way to the happiest place in the world, Walt Disney World. I remember boarding the plane and the captain giving me a pair of plastic pilot wings that I wore with a giant grin across my face. I was completely blown away by seeing the world from 35,000 feet. Growing up, my mom took me to a local airshow at Offutt Air Force Base. This sparked an interest in serving the country. There was a C-17 at the first Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show that I went to. I could not fathom how a plane of that size could fly. I ended up touring the inside of the C-17 and that was when I realized that I wanted to be a pilot.

 
A photo I took of a C-17 from Travis AFB on an overnight at KOMA.
 
 

I felt embarrassed and ashamed for wanting to become a pilot. I had never met a female pilot. I did not start telling family and friends that this is what I wanted to do with my life until high school. I tried easing my family into the idea by mentioning how I wanted to join the Air Force. Then I slowly started bringing up the idea of wanting to fly. Needless to say, my family and friends thought it was just a phase. In high school, I was a 4.0 student as well as a varsity athlete in cross country, track and field, and trapshooting. I focused on my grades and extracurricular activities so that I would be competitive for an Air Force ROTC scholarship. My senior year of high school I was overjoyed by the news of receiving a Commander's Scholarship for the local detachment at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). It was a full ride scholarship to study Aviation, I had my life planned out, so I thought.

My freshman year at UNO I juggled being a cadet and studying Aviation Management. At the end of my freshman year, I was crushed by the news that I had been medically disqualified from military service. That was a hard pill to swallow, but I knew I still wanted to fly. I ended up passing my first-class FAA medical and then began my private pilot training. I am now finishing up my commercial certificate with my eyes on a career in business aviation or with an airline.

Standing in front of a Citation Excel.