Pursuing A Dream
By Dan Rehel
I think most of us working in the entertainment industry, whether onstage or behind the scenes, all do it because we are passionate about it, about perfecting our respective crafts, always eager to learn, and enjoy the variety that it brings. When we all have to work while others get to go out and play, you simply have to be passionate about it.
However, I would also venture to say that we all need to have passions in addition to our chosen career paths, and recently, I’ve discovered the importance of pursuing those interests outside work.
Ever since I was a kid, if anyone asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, the answer would always be “a pilot”. I took my first flight when I was only a couple of months old, and I was flying across Canada as an Unaccompanied Minor by the age of 6. Every time I was on a flight, I would always ask the flight attendants if I could go see the pilots…back when you actually could.
In the middle of a flight, a flight attendant would come and get me to go see the pilots. I was always so mesmerized and impressed by all the buttons and gauges. A couple of times, I even remember being able to sit in the jump seat (an extra seat usually mounted to the back of the cockpit door) for the landing…for me, that was like being in a candy store.
Throughout school, I made sure to take courses that would lead me to that path (a lot of math and sciences). I began looking at education options for learning how to fly. A few colleges and universities offered such programs, the costs of which were, and remain, very high. Going the military route seemed like the best option, not that I wanted to be in the military but they would train you at no cost, and pay you at the same time. You just had to commit to service the same amount of years they provided you training. A pilot was 7 years of training, so an additional 7 years of service thereafter, for a total of 14 years in the Air Force. That wasn’t really something I wanted to do (although looking back, I’d have been done and out by now) and around this same time, I remember reading an article that airline pilots had one of the highest divorce rates…So instead I got into the entertainment business! HA!!
I definitely had, and of course still do, have a passion for the entertainment industry, the technology that drives it, and the constant challenges that it provides. However, throughout I would always look to the sky every time I heard an airplane overhead. It’s been 16 years since I made the decision not to pursue aviation as a career, but in September of 2016 I finally gathered enough money and made the decision to get my Private Pilot’s License. In July 2017, I passed my flight exam and earned my wings, and by the end of October, I also completed the training to be able to fly at night.
The first time I left the ground with me at the controls instantly confirmed (again) my love for aviation. There are very few ways you can get a view quite like the one flying a few thousand feet above the ground. And at night…it is so beautiful to look down at all the lights.
I did all this through the Windsor Flying Club in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and I couldn’t have asked for a better instructor…instructors actually, since the first had to leave before I could finish, but both were so great and encouraging. They pushed me and challenged me which I really appreciated.
Now having completed all the training and having become a licensed pilot, I am thoroughly enjoying this wonderful and inspiring hobby (albeit expensive!!). I have, and continue to meet, amazing people who also share in this same passion, making connections and friendships around a common interest. The ability to fly in to another city just for breakfast is pretty cool in my books. Also, it really beats driving, especially when you look down to a highway and everyone is backed up for miles.
The long short of this is that I strongly encourage everyone to pursue their passions, whatever they might be (so long as they are legal, of course). For me, flying is now a great escape and stress reliever. Oddly enough, it really keeps me grounded and fulfilled.
Also by Dan Rehel:
Join TheatreArtLife to access unlimited articles, our global career center, discussion forums, and professional development resource guide. Your investment will help us continue to ignite connections across the globe in live entertainment and build this community for industry professionals. Learn more about our subscription plans.
Love to write or have something to say? Become a contributor with TheatreArtLife. Join our community of industry leaders working in artistic, creative, and technical roles across the globe. Visit our CONTRIBUTE page to learn more or submit an article.