Fly Like a Black Belt! My first flight…

For years I’ve wanted to fly. The more I learned about the art of flying small aircraft, the more I saw parallels with the Black Belt experience.

  • Like Black Belts, pilots never consider their training finished. They are constantly looking to perfect their skills by increasing their ratings (rank if you will) and improving their performance.
  • Their last smooth take-off or landing is not as important as their next one, just like the champion whose favorite trophy is his next.
  • They are constantly searching for the connection between mind, body – and machine.
  • They are always trying to improve their focus and awareness.
  • They strive for calmness and centering, especially under pressure.

I recently became much more involved in aviation as part of a team launching a web platform for business and recreational pilots. Part of this adventure includes a webTV reality show which will follow me through my training. As we were finalizing some of the pre-production phase and looking for a suitable training program, Mark Bennett of Cirrus Aircraft gave me a shout and said he was flying to Maine with his colleague Bill Cattley. He asked if I could meet him at my local airport for a flight in their premier aircraft the Cirrus SR22.

Hell ya!

After a wonderful lunch talking flying and business, Mark said he had a prospect interested in the SR22. For those who know nothing about flying, if your typical high-wing Cessna is a Jeep, the SR22 is a Corvette! Nothing wrong with any Cessna, they’re great planes, but the SR22 is a high-performance aircraft and I was absolutely pumped to hop in for a quick ride!

One reason I am so interested in flying is that as my speaking opportunities continue to grow, I find myself flying much more often. Now I’m not one that complains about commercial aviation and I generally have nothing but wonderful experiences on all my carriers, particularly Jet Blue which I fly often. However, as commercial aviation becomes more expensive, TSA security procedures become more invasive and as I have the need to get to destinations other than the major hubs, the thought of a convenient and economical way to travel on my own schedule is looking much more appealing!

Enough of the practical side; let’s look at the spiritual aspects of flying. Yes – I said spiritual!

As we took off and started to bank, I saw a flash of brown approach the plane off the left wing. About 20 feet off the wing tip flew a spectacular bald eagle. The site of a bald eagle soaring high above is an inspirational site from the ground. Seeing this symbol of freedom and independence from the air was breathtaking. I felt as if we were part of the eagle’s world, free to soar without restrictions; free to go anywhere we wished.

But of course this was just a short demo flight! We soon landed and Mark asked me if I had time for another flight; this time I’d be in the pilot’s seat.

Hell ya!

Mark was patient, encouraging and thorough as he gave me a tour of the incredible computerized “glass cockpit” instrumentation. He taught me how to taxi and use my feet to control the rudder; as I got more comfortable, which is easy to do in the SR22’s air conditioned cabin and luxurious seats, he told me to taxi out to the runway.

As we approached the runway I asked Mark when he wanted to take over the controls. “No,” he said, “You’re going to fly the plane.” I was at once elated and cautious. I reminded him that I had never flown before. He assured me I’d do just fine.

After checking the traffic and making sure all was clear, I taxied the plane onto the runway. With Mark’s guidance I pushed the throttle forward and we were moving down the runway quickly approaching take-off speed. All of sudden I could feel the plane smoothly lifting off – it wanted to fly! All I had to do was tell it where I wanted it to fly with gentle input on the controls and calm and reassuring instruction from Mark!

I make much of my living expressing myself with words. After three weeks of trying to find the words to describe this experience, I can assure you there aren’t any! Controlling the power and grace of the Cirrus was unlike any other experience I’ve ever had; I can’t wait to begin my training. I know my favorite moment in the SR22 will be the next one!

I will fly for pleasure, and I will fly to make my business travel more convenient and economical. I will fly to make it easier for my wife to visit her mother and I’m quite sure I will look for many other excuses to get in the air.

Most of all I will fly because like becoming a Black Belt, I see an opportunity to develop myself further, learn a new skill, enjoy a new adventure and embrace another exercise in continual self-perfection…

…and I’ll be looking for the next eyeball to eyeball encounter with my eagle!


Have you ever considered flying for business or pleasure? Cirrus Aircraft is always happy to demonstrate their aircraft and share with you the benefits of flying for lifestyle and business!

If you’re serious about learning how the Cirrus SR22 serve your business needs, contact me directly and I’ll arrange for a Cirrus demo flight! Just email me at!

My partners at and I will join Cirrus Aircraft for an afternoon of flying and an evening seminar on the benefits of aircraft ownership for business. Our first event is Thursday, July 14th at Brunswick Executive Airport in Maine. Maine Coastal Flight Center will be on hand to talk about options for flight instruction!

Our next event will be in August at the Lewiston-Auburn Municipal Airport. We’ll announce a date soon!

Meanwhile, visit this link and learn about the benefits of Flying 2.0 – the Cirrus way!


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  1. My First Flight Experience – 5th Sept 2010. In one of those Cessna’s! I passed Private Pilot July5th, 2011:

  2. I have read several good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a wonderful informative web site. Thank you so much for providing such a informative article on this topic. God Bless you.

    • Farhan; thank you so much for your kind words. Your support and encouragement make the effort a joy!

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