Dreams of Flight Reinvigorated and Shared
When Colin takes along a first-time flier, the Lone Rock route is his go-to. By his count, he’s shared his passion with over 100 passengers, and they almost always love it.
“I know of three that I’ve taken, though, that have had to take advantage of the ‘sick bag,’” he adds in between laughs. “The first time that happened, I was not prepared. I learned my lesson from there on to have a bag ready in the plane.”
Those three trips aside, Colin says, his introductory flights have inspired a new passion in many of his friends. “I have one friend that’s always available at a moment’s notice. I can send him a text, and he’ll be (at the airport) half an hour later,” Colin says.
Colin continues to share his enthusiasm with flight fanatics on the second Monday of each month at The Jet Room in Madison, Wis., a restaurant inside the Wisconsin Aviation Building with full-window views of the airport runways.
The group is a mix of pilots, soon-to-be pilots and flight enthusiasts — and most of them happen to be American Family Insurance employees. Colin, now a technology solution delivery manager at American Family Insurance, organizes the get-together and welcomes anyone curious about flying.
Within the first five minutes of sitting down, the conversations quickly turn from work-related small talk to discussions of flight hours, recent trips and who’s next to earn their pilot’s license. Even as burgers and sandwiches are placed in front of them, the discussion ensures they’ll be eaten at a slower-than-average pace.
“It’s sort of like people that are really into sports cars. You get a group of them together, and they start talking about RPMs, horsepower, fuel-injected stuff,” Colin says. “You have to do work to make it happen. People just don’t magically meet. But once you get them you can’t get them to stop talking, that I know.”
To an outsider, the concept of learning to fly a plane might be overwhelming — but Colin insists that any fear a non-pilot has about learning to fly quickly evaporates during training.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it. I can see where it’d be fearful from the outside looking in, seeing all of the buttons and gauges, but it’s not overly complex,” Colin says. “It’s a different type of adventure than you would normally have with driving a car to work every day. You just have to prepare yourself and learn what’s necessary in order to operate that vehicle safely.”
Colin is quick to credit his wife for pushing him back into his hobby and dealing with his obsession with planes. “I love flying a lot more than she loves flying,” he says. “I’ve been very, very fortunate that one of my dreams has come true.”
And while he continues to live his dream gliding along Wisconsin’s skies a handful of times a month, it still doesn’t come close to being the best thing in his life. “Flying is nice, it’s a recreation, but nothing is more important than the family I have. Great wife, great kids, and that wonderful little girl.”
That wonderful little girl is Colin’s one-year-old granddaughter, Saoirse. “Maybe we’ll get her involved in flying,” he says.