Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: Spine Of Steel

Some of us never know what we’re made of until everything’s taken away

The little model airplane we're all used to from our own ground school days got quite a workout in her training. Her instructor, Mitch Hansen, would grab the model, use it to explain what the real airplane was going to do, and how and why it was going to do it.

"We spent a lot of time with that model airplane, because if I can't fully comprehend something, I don't want to do it," Glassing recalls.

Glassing took to her flying well. Then more disaster struck: five long year's worth of frustrating, sometimes frightening, medical setbacks that interrupted her training for months at a time. When a life-threatening infection caused by an antibiotic began to dissolve two of her spinal vertebrae, she fought despair. How much more would be asked of her?

One day, her daughter Briana said, "Mom, please don't let go. You want to be a pilot."

"Yeah. I do," she answered. After each ordeal, she'd recover and go back to flight training.

"I'm glad I did it," she says. "But it was definitely a push. I had to find the drive to start up again, many times. I may not be the best at everything I do, but I like to think if I'm going to start something, I'm going to do it 100% until I get to the best of my abilities. I didn't want to start my training then not be able to complete it. I've never done that with anything in my life, and I really did not want this to be that one thing!"

And there were angels all along the winding path, including unwavering support and commitment from Able Flight's Charles Stites and staff, the Hansen family and her flight instructors, friends and family who kept saying, "You can do this!"

"There sure were those days where I thought, 'I don't know if I can.' But then you get that little extra fire under your butt and keep going," Glassing says.

Then came that day every student both dreads—and longs for. After a landing, her flight instructor told her to stop the plane. He climbed out. "I thought it would freak me out. I knew the day was coming, but I was like, 'Yes! Now there's nobody to yell at me back there!'"


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