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88 The PCB Design Magazine • July 2017 gave it full throttle, and down the runway I went, picking up speed. At 55 mph I began to pick up the nose wheel and soon we floated off. I established a positive rate of climb at around 75 mph when I noticed something different; I was talking to myself. But that's OK, if that was what I needed to do to get through this safely. "Keep looking for other traffic," I continued, "and begin your turn to the left." So far, so good. So, congratulations. You've been taking little steps into the great unknown for a long time now, but you probably didn't realize it. But sometimes we all need to purposely make that first big scary step, much like I did when I accepted that position as a CAD systems administrator. Yes, it could result in disaster, but you will never know until you try. "OK, let's continue this left turn, you're doing good," I told myself. I was now at pattern altitude and I backed the power off to 2500 rpm, set the mixture to lean and trimmed the elevator. My heart rate and respiration actually calmed down a little. Time to get back on the radio. "Aurora traffic, Cessna 232 is downwind for runway one-seven." I had no idea when I took the CAD systems administrator position that years later I would be working for a CAD software company. It never occurred to me at the time that one day I would be helping customers in a variety of environments and on many different types of design systems. But when it came time, I was able to rely on my experience as a systems administrator in order successfully install and configure my customer's design software. As I passed the end of the runway on the downwind leg of the pattern, my heart rate and respiration began to creep up again. It's time to configure the plane for landing, and for a student pilot the landing is the most difficult and most important maneuver to master. After all, take-off is optional, but landing is mandatory. "You can do this," I say, "Mixture to rich—check, carb heat on—check, flaps 10 and throttle back—check." With the plane slowing, I began my descent and keyed up the mike again. "Aurora traffic, Cessna 232 is turning base for runway one-seven." Lowering the flaps to 20, I turned left onto my base leg while the plane slowed even more. But being able to help customers with their installations and configurations was not the only benefit that I realized from my time as a systems administrator. I also learned a lot about working with people and resolving their problems. This helped me immensely later on as I supported customers on their CAD software. And helping other team members as an admin also taught me how to instruct people in the use of their software, which gave me a solid foundation to build on years later as a technical instructor for CAD software. I started another left turn and announced to Aurora traffic that I was on final approach. Now it's all about landing the airplane. "Flaps to 30—good. You're a little low so give it a bit more throttle. You're starting to drift now so give it a little right rudder—that's good, straighten it out. Watch the airspeed; it's a bit fast so pull back the yoke just a tad. One last look around for traffic, and we're good." I realized that one day I would be embarrassed to tell people that I was talking to myself, but at this moment I just don't care. STEPPING INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN

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