Yes, after being poked, prodded and even a little bullied by the Twitterverse and some of the Mile High Flyers podcast followers, I finally submitted my application for Acro Camp. It really does sound so exciting and given the chance, I would willingly vomit & dry heave regularly for 4 days in a row just to get the chance to roll and be upside down at altitude in an aircraft under my “command.” The experience is not something that comes along often, if ever for a pilot like me.
For those who are not familiar with the Acro Camp story, the basics are this. Stephen (Force) Tupper (a.k.a @StephenForce on Twitter) host of the Airspeed.com podcast has finally been pushed into making a documentary to follow the story of four “just outside of average” pilots, from all walks of life, as they train to get their Aerobatic rating in the skies above Michigan. His plan is to complete all filming during the Spring of 2010. He accepted applications until February 7th hoping to find pilots with at least a Private Pilot rating and with no significant aerobatic training. He was also looking to find pilots who are not the “mainstream” pilot; the “just out of average.” By this he was bold and stated, he was looking for pilots who were not the average “White Guy.” Now before people jump all over him, well, too late. People already did. Stephen Force is the “Average White Guy Pilot.” He’s not hateful to the “White Guy.” But with this documentary, he is also hoping to “Reach Across the Fence” and spark interest in those that would normally not consider flight, or who have never really been introduced to it. In other words, people who don’t meet the stereotypical view of a pilot; a White Guy. And YES, he has taken some extreme grief over this decision, although it appears most of his followers understand his reasoning and are waiting for Acro Camp IV, where he’s alluded to the crew being all “Fat White Guys.” But enough of that.
I was not planning on applying for the crew. I had been asked by several people if I would because they felt I would make a great story. Although, I think some secretly just want to see me spin and hang upside down while vomiting in circles. But, I simply do not have the finances to afford the endeavor. This is not an exhibition trip. Stephen Force has made it clear that all crew members, once chosen are responsible for their own transportation, lodging, food, etc. & will be required to pay for the training. I know my post divorce, single mom finances will not be able to handle that. Unless a miracle happens, like I ever get the gumption to purchase a lottery ticket AND it has enough winning numbers on it to pay my bills, I truly don’t see me as being able to afford the financial expense.
But still I applied. Why did I apply? True, it was partially because so many kept telling me I should even though I have been steadfast that I will not be able to afford to participate. But the true reason I applied was because of a dream. As I drifted off to sleep one night last week, I felt the presence of an Uncle who died several years ago. Now you may believe what you want about ghosts and spirits, but I’m Hawaiian, so I believe there are times they reach back to push us. My Uncle never flew with me. I never really knew if he understood how important the skies were to me. But as I drifted between consciousness and the world of dreams, I heard his voice ask me. “Why won’t you apply?” I answered that I was broke and could barely afford the day to day let alone flying. I felt and heard his sigh and prolonged pause. Then he said “If you choose not to apply, you prepare to fail. If you choose to try, you choose to dream. Failure is guaranteed if you don’t try. Success is only possible if you dare to dream.”
My eyes shot open & I sat bolt upright in bed. I could honestly believe my Uncle Henry was there, in the dark, keeping me safe and keeping my dream alive. The words he said were words he said to me when he was alive. I had remembered them from one of his birthday parties and they helped me at that time. It was a surprise they came back in the manner they did. But I smiled nonetheless. I debated on getting out of bed that moment to fill out the application, but I believe my Uncle knew I needed sleep as I suddenly was extremely tired and fell asleep almost immediately.
The next day, I submitted my application. I don’t know that I would be asked to be a crew member, I don’t expect that I’ll find that miracle to make aerobatic training a reality for me. So MANY things would have to fall into place for me to even make the trip. But I do know that if I hadn’t applied, I would have definitely set myself up to fail. By applying for Acro Camp, I am being true to my self. I am daring to dream.