Flying Solo, MJ Hegar
During her first solo cross-country flight, MJ Hegar recalls keeping her cool when her flight plans unexpectedly changed and how that solidified her confidence in her skills.
- It was very interesting going through obtaining my private license in a post-9/11-- immediately post-9/11 environment. I can remember my first solo cross country, which is already a little bit scary, because if you know you have to rely on yourself. And these two guard helicopters came up next to me and were like, alter your course immediately. Apparently, there was a football game going on at Texas A&M, and I didn't realize it. You're not allowed to fly anywhere near large groups of people, because they were afraid there were still terrorist attacks going on.
So I kind of took a deep breath, and I got on the horn with Houston flight following. And they're like yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you anyway. We're trying to keep these, you know, Boeings from hitting each other, or whatever. And I was like OK, well, be advised sir, I'm a student on her first solo cross country. And I just had to alter my course. You could hear him drop everything and like focus on me. And he was like, OK, where are you right now? What are your coordinates?
I finally said, look, I can see cows. I can see probably street signs by this time, because I'm so low. So I saw the beacon through the weather, and it was such a relief to see the beacon. And I landed, and I got out, and I took a deep breath, and I was just like, wow. And I think it was then that I knew I could take anything-- like any kind of stressful situation, because I didn't freak out. I just handled it. And I had full confidence in myself that I could do that for the rest of my career.