August 11, 2017

Why I Fly – Rod Mizell, Jet Linx Dallas

My story begins when I was eight years old. I was having difficulty in school – I was in effect the class clown. My parents were quite frustrated with my lack of interest and concentration regarding my school studies.

At this point, they told my two brothers and me that if we would each read ten books at our grade level, they would give us an airplane ride. Wow! This was something I had never done and could really get excited about! I read my books quickly and was ready when the day came to go with a pilot in a rented Cessna 172. All three of us piled into the back of the aircraft and flew around above El Paso, TX. I still have a visual memory of the city and the flight, and remember the excitement of it all! I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a pilot.

My dad would take me out to the approach path at the El Paso airport, and we would watch the huge DC-3s and DC-7s come overhead with their roaring radial engines and American Airlines painted on the fuselage. I knew at that point that I wanted to be an airline pilot.

I learned several things from the experience. I learned that I loved to fly. I learned that I loved to read which helped my studies and concentration. As a result, I have learned that life is a process of continual learning especially in the age of accelerating technology in the cockpit.

We were a family of limited means so I knew that neither my family nor I could afford flight lessons. I continued dreaming of the possibility of being a pilot until I went to the university. At that time, the USAF ROTC program gave me the opportunity to join the service after graduation. I was selected for the flight training program during my senior year and got 35 hours of training. After graduation and my commissioning as an officer, I started Undergraduate Pilot Training in Enid, OK, at Vance AFB. After completion of that training, I went to additional training in Merced, California, to fly the KC-135 in the Strategic Air Command.

The rest is history. I have been flying on and off for nearly 50 years. It never gets old. I am one of those fortunate people who loves what I do, and therefore feel like someone pays me to go have fun every day when I go to work. I feel a responsibility to pass on the love of flying and encourage young people to follow their dreams. If you find a job that you love, “you will never work a day of your life.”

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