“It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky, than in the sky wishing you were on the ground.” One of the many sayings that gets told and re-told in the aviation community, has been gnawing at me for the past couple of years. When you’re flying regularly, it is certainly a truism. When you’re not flying regularly, or at all, it rings false, deafeningly false.

I haven’t piloted an aircraft in almost two years.

Another aviation saying, one which I like, is “you start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.” This isn’t entirely true, you start with three bags: one full of luck, another full of money and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the empty bag with experience before the other two run out.

I look skyward at each aircraft passing overhead, attempting to identify the make and model, before guessing where they’re flying. Having experienced the joy, frustration and stress of flight, sitting on the ground looking upward is unpleasant.

Learning to fly taught me as much about myself as it did the mechanics of powered-flight. However, the amount of flying that would make me feel comfortable as pilot-in-command, far exceeds the amount of money I’m willing to convert into thrust and lift.

In the time since I last pulled the yoke back, flared and landed on a runway, I have: taken my first real vacation, helped a friend get their footing, and purchased my first house.

None of which were easy, or cheap, especially in Northern California.

I find myself reading old posts tagged vfrstudentpilot, reminiscing over the fears, concerns and delights that went along with flight. In the present, there’s not much to blog about. There’s nothing inherently exciting or interesting about home ownership, financial stability and long term planning.

How boring and responsible.

If you hang around any airfield long enough you’ll notice two general groups of people: the young folks, bright-eyed and energetic, many with shiny-jet-syndrome aspiring to be airline pilots. The second group: salty older pilots who are usually retirees and/or folks with as much time as money to burn for avgas.

I’ve got the salty part down, so with luck I’ll be able to eventually join the second group.

For now, unfortunately, I’ll have to sit on the ground, looking up, wishing I were there.