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86 The PCB Design Magazine • July 2017 "It's time for you to go," my flight instructor said. I answered, "Well, it's getting kind of late and the weather is starting to drop. Maybe we should put this off until…" "Go now!" my instructor said. My earlier jovial mood was now punctured by anxiety. But there was no way around it. It was time for my first solo flight as student pilot on June 8, 1990. Many years ago, I was given the opportunity to switch my career path from senior circuit board designer to CAD systems administrator. I wasn't certain that I wanted to give up the comfort of being a designer; after all, I had been one for a long time. But I knew that I wanted to grow in my career and this transition would help my overall knowledge base of everything CAD-related, as well as better position me in my quest for a management position. So, I pulled the trigger and accepted the new job even though the idea of stepping into the great unknown like that was very intimidating. Walking to the plane I begin to mentally rehearse everything that I needed to do. I tell myself, "No pressure!" After all, the only thing that could go wrong here is that any number of mistakes could result in my drilling a house-sized crater in the ground, leaving nothing but a grease stain for my family and friends to remember me by. "No, stop it! Don't think about stuff like that." I admonish myself. "Don't let your imagination get the better of you." I force those thoughts down as I begin my pre-flight check. Stretching and growing is an important part of life. Yes, it is tempting to stay where it is safe and warm, but that kind of life won't help us to reach new heights. You can take a sailboat out onto the pond and use the motor to scoot around, but don't kid yourself. You won't really be sailing until you get onto a river or a lake and open up the full potential of the boat by unfurling the sails in a brisk wind. You may feel fear as the boat heels over in the wind, but under an experienced hand, that fear will transform into an i n c r e d i b l e e x p e r i e n c e . And just like sailing, in order for us to become more than we are today we sometimes have to embrace the strong winds of change head-on, no matter how scary. I completed the engine start checklist, fired her up, and taxied to runway 17. I stood on the brakes and tested my magnetos. After adjusting the altimeter, I announced in the blind to Aurora Unicom my intention to take off (this was many years before the tower was built). The take-off checklist was complete, and it was time to go. I was nervous, but my training and my instructor's confidence told me that I was ready. Carb heat off, no flaps, and I slowly advanced the throttle, took one last look to confirm that we were clear, and I pulled onto the active runway. I lined the plane up, by Tim Haag CONSULTANT Stepping into the Great Unknown TIM'S TAKEAWAYS

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