"Zero Delta Bravo, climb and maintain 4000, clear for takeoff.” I was launching from Tallahassee’s Runway 36 last week after a great meeting with our FABA lobbyist and Executive Committee. As I accelerated and climbed, I had a flashback to the last time I was climbing out from the same runway.
Sadly, it was way back in February of 2008, after attending a (then) FATA Board meeting. I was not quite yet a pilot, and had been signed off for the TLH trip as a solo cross country into controlled airspace. I remember being a bit intimidated when the controller said, “Climb and maintain 4000, caution wake turbulence, clear for takeoff.” A DC-9 had departed in front of me; I knew how to handle it from my training, but had never actually done it. Anyway, the departure went fine, and I climbed through a hole in a very small cloud layer. Arriving at my cruising altitude, I could see blue skies, a few puffy clouds and the Florida coastline. The thrill of completing a business trip while still in training was very cool and addictive. The other thought I still remember was that I had a full tank of gas (from my good friends Mac and Danny at Flightline) and a light payload. It was overwhelming how many places I could reach from there!
Back to 2013—the primary goal of our meeting was to organize our many legislative wins over the last few years, which represent literally MILLIONS of dollars in positive financial impact for our members. We’ll be producing some marketing materials highlighting these accomplishments in our bid to expand our membership. If you don’t think the Annual Meeting and Trade Show, website, eNewswire, this great magazine, our Board, the many great contacts, etc. are worth your membership, then our political record and strength should do it alone. Do you think Tallahassee doesn’t need to be watched? Our organization is the advocate for aviation businesses in Florida.
I am personally proud and excited about our new name, image and direction. Our Board is more dedicated than it’s ever been, and we’re all putting in more time than has been required in the past. We’re well into our planning for our next annual meeting, and we’ll have significant changes to content, format, location, schedule… everything. You will not want to miss it!
So back to my most recent departure. As the Showalters’ trusty Aztec departed in front of me, I didn’t get a “caution, wake turbulence” warning. But as I climbed away from Runway 36, I reflected on the changes I’d been through since the last time. I’m now an actual, certificated, instrument-rated pilot. I’m five years older, five thoughts wiser and five pounds heavier. I couldn’t help noticing the “range ring” on my panel showed I could easily make the Bahamas, Key West, New Orleans or Raleigh. The skies were once again blue, and I could see the beautiful coastline.
Though I’m still a Board member like the last time, you kind folks have now entrusted me with the Left Seat of this great organization. Thank you. Now close the door and buckle up; let’s FLY!