In life, you can go with the safe option, and know that you’ll be able to predict how most of your future days will go. Or you can toss the safe option out the window, step off into the abyss and see where life takes you.
A little over a year ago, I stepped off. I had been working at Microsoft, where I had a predictable paycheck and a pretty interesting job, but I had no access to one of my primary passions – aviation. Well, I had some access … I was always free to lurk near SeaTac airport or Boeing Field, where I could spend happy hours watching planes come in to land. I was free to binge-watch episodes of Air Crash Investigation whenever I had the time.
I wanted more, so I blew up my life and started over, without being entirely sure where I would end up. All I knew was that the future woud contain airplanes. The story isn’t over yet (and won’t be until I’m gone from this earth) but one day this week I was reminded how you never know what you might be missing unless you take the chance. Had I stayed at Microsoft, or in another similar corporate job, I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty what that day would have been like. I would have sat in an office, sent some emails, solved some problems, and probably had a meeting or two. Good, useful work, but predictable.
Instead I began my day at Boeing Field. I had been invited, along with the rest of my team from the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, to attend as the Boeing team received the trophy for achieving the highest overall score at the competition.
We felt very honored simply to be in attendance as the Boeing team received their award, but it just kept getting better. As part of their prize package, Boeing had received an entry fee to next year’s competition. They donated it to our school, South Seattle Community College. As if that wasn’t enough, PPG Aerospace, the company who provided the entry fee, announced that our school would receive a second entry fee!
Then, on to networking. I got to speak with several Boeing employees who are deep in the world of flight test, which is a career area I’m very interested in. They were very generous in inviting my teammates and me to stay in contact with them in order to learn as much as we can about this career option. Next I had a wonderful conversation with the founder of the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, who also happens to be a leading authority in the field of safety and investigation, another area of great interest to me.
But wait, there’s more! After the festivities, we were handed yellow vests and taken outside to the ramp. (Can you imagine working in an office building that abuts a runway?) There we toured a 787-9 test plane, inside and out, with a very knowledgeable mechanic/avionics guru as our tour guide. While we were outside looking at the gorgeously designed Rolls Royce engines, we watched the takeoff of another 787, while in front of us, yet a third 787 taxied over and paused, for a good 5 minutes of ogling, before it was towed to its parking spot.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I felt like this for most of the day:
Or, maybe like this:
When I stepped off that cliff a year ago, I had no idea what my life was going to be like. I could not have foreseen that I would quickly be absorbed into the wonderful world of aviation, and that experiences that seemed hopelessly out of reach in my old life are just kind of how things go in my new life. These days, life is good.
Click here for more posts about my transformation from software drone to aviation mechanic student.