Cleared to Final

Two of my favourite planes

Two of my favourite planes – Cessna 152 & Piper Warrior

After over two hours on my own, suspended in the tiny Cessna 152 training aircraft, navigating my way over the fields and railway lines of Normandy in north-western France, I was filled with nervous excitement when I spotted an airfield in the distance.

That airfield was Rennes airport and I had never seen it from the air or landed there before.

It was a defining moment in my life story because this was one of the final stages of gaining my Private Pilot’s Licence – a solo cross country flight, landing at Rennes and Dinard before returning to my home base of Jersey, the largest of the English Channel Islands.

For a nineteen year old I was quite mature and confident. In that same year I was promoted to a Deputy Store Manager in a supermarket with 23 staff. That was one thing, but flying solo at two thousand feet over the English Channel, map-reading my way down the French coast and finding an unfamiliar airstrip was quite another test of self-reliance altogether.

I contacted Rennes Air Traffic Control and was cleared to descend and join the circuit.

Although I was still a student pilot, my training had been thorough and I had picked things up quickly owing to a lifetime of affinity with aviation. In fact I had ‘gone solo’ one fine but grey afternoon on the grass airstrip at Lessay, after just nine hours of training – one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Flying solo for the first time had been another defining moment for me – that heart-pounding moment when the instructor says, “When you land this time, pull over on the side of the runway but keep the engine running.’
Then, said my instructor, John Pedley, ‘Ok mate, you’re ready. Just do one circuit, request a full stop this time, park it over there and I’ll see you in the bar. Enjoy yourself.’

Taking my parents to France for lunch

Taking my parents to France for lunch 1981

I was born with avgas in my blood. My father had joined the Air Force as a mechanical apprentice at fifteen and was fixing Spitfires on Malta, Sicily and in Egypt during the War, before a lengthy career as an aircraft engineer for British Airways in Jersey. My eldest brother became a commercial helicopter pilot, having served with the Army Air Corps, and my sister was a stewardess for British Airways. No wonder I loved assembling and painting model aircraft kits as a child.

When I was seventeen, Dad got me a summer holiday job at a small airline he had joined while in semi-retirement, called Intra Airways.

I had the joyful job of cleaning the aircraft on the turnaround between flights. I had felt important, driving support vehicles across the airport apron, putting locking pins in the undercarriage of the old Dakota DC 3’s, wiping oil off the engine cowlings and directing passengers which way to walk to the terminal building. The downside was in having to empty the bucket from the chemical toilet, but even that unsavoury task did not diminish the joy of working with my father and being ‘one of the guys’ at Jersey airport.

So on that July day in 1980, as I joined the downwind leg of the Rennes circuit and began my pre-landing checks, with my hands on the controls, I felt literally as free as a bird.

I think I had goose bumps as the tower controller said, ‘Golf Romeo November – you are clear to final.’

Before I knew it I was cleared to land. The wheels greased smoothly onto the bitumen and I taxied my plane to a parking spot in front of the control tower.

As I turned off the engine, I threw my hands in the air and yelled ‘YESSSSS!’

I think it was a little from nervous relief as it was from exhilaration. The concentration had been intense, realising that the only person I could count on to bring that plane down safely was me.

I had to have my log book stamped by Customs to prove I had been there, before flying on to Dinard, then back to Jersey.

When I gained my wings at the Channel Islands Aero Club in Jersey that Summer, I was very proud of the achievement.

Tony-flying-Rotto2007

Tony flying in WA

When I reflect on it though, a large part of my pride stems from the fact that it represented the realisation of a huge dream come true.

I had set the goal to obtain my licence; I had researched what I needed to do; I had sought the finance required – I took out a two thousand pound bank loan; I enrolled in the course; I studied the things I needed to study – navigation, meteorology, principles of flight, air law, radio procedures, airfield procedures, flight planning and much more.

I had made a commitment to myself and I saw it through, overcoming occasional fear and self-doubt, carried with the wind of desire and determination beneath my wings.

As a metaphor for life in general, it was a great testament to the power of a dream.

Sir Winston Churchill once remarked that, ‘Nothing can stop the totally committed will’ and I am a firm believer in his maxim.

If you decide that you really want something, and of course it fits with your ethical and moral values, then if you commit to its completion, and really apply yourself, you can overcome any obstacle, rise to the challenge and live the life of your dreams.

We are blessed to live in a free country, surrounded by resources at our disposal if we will but look and ask. We live in a place where the seemingly impossible can be made to happen, and the difficult – well that just serves to make the challenge worthwhile.

So I hope that you have not given up on your dreams and settled for less because opportunity is all around us.

I recommend that you encourage others as you yourself would like to be encouraged. The power of a good support team is not to be underestimated.

If you would like any help with defining your goals or planning their accomplishment, please feel free to contact me for a chat. I offer a free discovery session.

Life coaching, lifestyle consulting or whatever you prefer to call it, can help you rediscover the dreams and goals you may have filed in the ‘too hard basket’. What if, just maybe, you could still do them?

Do you dare to dream?

Until next time, may you live your life with passion!

Tony Inman

Seizing The Moment

Inspirational Video – Jason McElwain (AKA J Mac)

The story of how a young man with autism, known to his friends as ‘J Mac’, seized his moment of opportunity to consolidate his position as an inspirational legend.

No matter what challenges you face, if someone else believes in you and gives you the opportunity and the encouragement to shine, seize that moment and allow the diamond inside you to sparkle for the world.

‘Believe’ and your dreams can come true! To read more about J Mac click here.

Tenacity – Marion Clignet

Inspirational Video -‘Tenacity’- Marion Clignet

The story of how Marion Clignet, despite having epilepsy and suffering from a seizure most days, was able to become six times World Cycling Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist.

Marion now travels the world as an inspirational speaker, who uses her celebrity status to help educate communities about the condition of epilepsy and it’s impact on thousands of lives.

To find out more about epilepsy and why I support the Epilepsy Association of WA, click here.

Choose To Win Your ‘Game of Life’

Olympics Opening

The 30th Olympiad and the ‘Human Spirit’

Like many Australians this week I have been drawn to my television to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes push themselves to achieve results beyond what was previously thought possible.

The Games of the 30th Olympiad are in this day and age almost unavoidable, even if you are a person who bizarrely hates sport, which of course, I’m not.

I have played a myriad of sports in my lifetime, though not to any level that even approaches Olympic greatness, but I love it. I’m one of those reasonably good all-rounders.

At school though I could easily have been put off the whole idea…

Rather like the story of Tom Brown’s school days, my young primary school friends and I were mercilessly sent out into the snow and freezing rain, shivering in our skimpy singlets, our plimsoles being swallowed by particularly squelchy mud in the grassy green fields surrounding our Victoria College Preparatory School in Jersey, Channel Islands.

Those so-called cross-country runs are etched into my brain as stark reminders of the ‘tough love’ brand of education of yesteryear.

Nostalgia is a quirky thing though, because I now look back on those days and those experiences as ‘character-building’.

Unless you could prove you were dying of something like bubonic plague, the teachers accepted no excuses, and especially not inclement weather conditions!

For me it was like torture, yet for some gifted individuals it was their chance to shine.

Some children found that they had an unusual ability to gallop across those pastures, dodging the cow pats and leaping over barbed wire fences, somehow skipping across the muddy pools without sinking in, while others lost their shoes and socks in the quagmire.

These gazelle-like athletes blazed their way back to the school field and the comforting finish line, probably having time for a hot shower and a cuppa while I was still trying to navigate my way through the field with the bull in it!

It is in those moments of triumph where people like that find an ember of possibility, that maybe, just maybe, they could excel at that chosen sport.

Hockey was another of those sports invented by sadists, though they forgot one important detail in their grand design – that the freezing cold was your ally, because when your opponent’s stick slid up your stick and rapped you on the knuckles, you didn’t feel the pain. Well, not as much anyway, or at least until you had your hot shower and all of the bruising started to come out as the circulation returned to your almost-hypothermic body!

Anyway, back to my point – some of these people ignited a passion for a particular sport. In our house system, at our somewhat elite institution, competition was not only encouraged, it was demanded.

The will to win was instilled and people were trained to continually push the boundaries, so that those embers of possibility became burning cauldrons of desire and resolve.

We competed relentlessly with other schools, and with each other, and achievements were acknowledged at school assemblies.

The Human Connection in the Pursuit of Excellence

The Human Connection in the Pursuit of Excellence

So it is, with the Olympic athletes who grace our screens today. What you see is not the result of some hobby. Rather, it is the result of years of intense passion to achieve a dream, years of sacrifice, years of commitment, to strive to be the best in the world at whatever it is that they do.

That is what captures our interest and indeed our imagination, seeing in their faces the joy of victory or the agony of defeat. That saga, even at this extreme level of excellence is one to which we can all relate, even at our most basic and ordinary levels, for we ‘relatively average’ mortals also experience pleasure and pain in all of our endeavours.

It is in fact a globally televised magnification of the experience of being ‘human’.

Here is the interesting twist, however…

Each one of us has a choice in our lives. We can choose to at least strive for excellence, because even in falling short of that goal, we would probably still improve and grow from the effort.

Or we can choose to lead a life of quiet desperation – a life of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’s’ and ‘If only’s’.

We may not all be Gold Medallists, but we can all choose to be better, faster, braver – just a little better than last time, and in the effort we can all be winners.

The Winner is You if You Choose To Be One

The Winner is You if You Choose To Be One

We can also encourage each other, so that in those moments of doubt and uncertainty there is always someone to offer a helping hand, a kind word or a smile of support.

The Olympics are so inspirational because they remind us of the great qualities that lie within us all. Admittedly some people hide those qualities so well that you could be excused for thinking them absent, yet still they are there. They just need to be appreciated and uncovered.

So I say, ‘Enjoy the Games’ but remember also that the ‘Game of Life’ continues for us all, perhaps not with medals always up for grabs, but we can all still be winners at whatever we do.

Whether your game is to be a great athlete, or a boss, a mother, father, employee, spouse, whatever… You have the choice – the choice to settle for less, or the choice to strive for more.

I wish for you to choose wisely and to remember that everyone you encounter is fighting their own inner battle, so maybe they need a little kindness.

If you need any help at all in figuring out what’s next in Your ‘Game of Life’ and how to improve your chances of winning, please feel free to contact me.

Meanwhile, have a great week , soak up that Olympic spirit and enjoy the journey.

Tony Inman