From about the age of 4, I knew I wanted to fly. Nobody in my family was an aviator, nor did we know anyone who was, so I don’t know where that passion came from. My mother was a stay-at-home mom at the time, and my father was a musician. I just knew that was what I wanted.
My parents divorced when I was 5, and I lived with my dad and stepmom. Weekends were spent at my mom’s. When I was 7, my mother went to work for an oral surgeon who, it turned out, owned some airplanes. I begged my mom to ask him for a flight, which he gave me in a C-172 that same year. My stepmother knew I wanted to be a pilot but continually told me every time I spoke about it that I was too stupid and that I’d never be a pilot. This, I think, is what drives me to always be better and to improve myself. But between then and when I joined the Army at 18, I had to make do with model airplanes and my dreams.