I've had a lot on my mind in the last few days, so I thought I'd go ahead and pour out my thoughts and feelings into this blog post and update you all on what is going on... (Sorry it's a long post, but worth the read if you want to get the scoop!)
My story actually starts back in early 2007, I was doing a lot of work in advertising but felt I was not in the career path that best suited me so I began to do some soul searching and came up with a list of my top career choices. At the time, I was developing websites and working in advertising, producing campaigns for many clients. The company I was working with was one of the top advertising agencies in the country. I enjoyed what I was doing but I had a hard time doing all that work for a company that made so much money off of the work that I did and then paid me a basic salary. The best solution was to start working for myself and maybe create my own company but it was too expensive and time consuming to do, so instead I decided I needed to stick with a "job" but make sure it was a job I would enjoy.
One thing I had always wanted to do was to fly helicopters. After giving it a great deal of thought, I decided it was time to take action and embark on a whole new career in aviation. I searched for schools and chose a school that, at the time, was the largest helicopter flight training academy in the world. They were on the Forbes 500 list for their 3rd year in a row when I signed up. The way it worked was, you pay for the full cost of the program up front, and the funds are supplied by a private student loan in disbursements over the course of a year. The cost? A whopping $70k. This is a great deal for a dream job though, isn't it? :)
By May 2007 I had started classes at Silver State Helicopters and was quickly climbing to the top of my class. Because I worked from home as a freelance web developer and graphic designer, I was able to dedicate a lot of time to my flying and I moved forward at a pace that was twice as fast as my fellow classmates. I loved flying! My instructors were great and I can truly say I was having the time of my life! Unfortunately, 6 months into my training, I received a call one morning from a good friend of mine who said his dad had just heard that Silver State was closing down. I assured him that he was mistaken because I had a flight scheduled for later that day with my instructor. I started to get suspicious when my calls to my instructor were not returned and I headed down to the school to find out what was going on. Upon arrival, I noticed a police car parked in the front and sure enough, a letter on the door confirming that as of midnight, Silver State had filed for bankruptcy and was no more. Like a text-book case of someone coping with devastating news, I immediately entered stage 1: Denial. I knew this was a mistake. I still had my flight scheduled!
I don't remember how long it took to jump in to the next phase but I sure remember the feelings. The change in mood happened right around the time that I realized that my $70k loan was entirely in the hands of the school when they closed. I felt so angry that at one point, I considered breaking in to take their virtual flight simulator. Soon those feelings dissipated into phase 3: Bargaining. I didn't really want to "break in" and "steal" the flight simulator, I only wanted to "trade" it for the money they still had ;).
I calculated that since I had only received 1 out of the 4 certifications that was promised to me, maybe the school would allow us to receive a pro-rated amount back from them for the funds? Well, this was not an option since the school had already run through everything it had and washed their hands clean of any liquidation assets or anything. During this "bargaining" phase, I had researched a new school in Arizona and I had already began making arrangements to continue down the path of my new career regardless of what had just happened.
In March 2008, I moved down to Arizona and began flying at a new school called Quantum Helicopters. I really liked the new school and I quickly picked up where I had left off. I already had my private pilot license and now I was working on my instrument rating and commercial license. 4 months later, I received my instrument rating and immediately started to prepare for my commercial license. Everything was going well, but finding the funds to fly so often was becoming very hard. It was the end of 2008 and the economy was looking pretty grim, especially for obtaining private, non-federal student loans. I took out 2 additional loans for about $20k each, and had hired an attorney to help me fight for recovering the initial $70k that I had already lost. I was getting close to being ready to take my commercial exam but the funds were running low in my bank account. I calculated that I barely had enough to get through the commercial phase of my training and then I would have to seek more funds to finish up my flight instructor rating (this would allow me to get a job flying).
As fate would have it, with gasoline prices soaring for most of the year, my cost per hour to fly had been much more than I had anticipated so I found myself completely out of money with only about 5 to 7 hours left of flying to get my commercial license. At $255/hr it was just out of my reach! This is about the time I entered the 4th stage: depression. I explored many other options to finish up my flying including the coast guard. One option that sounded promising was to get a job with the police and then with time, hope to be put in to the aviation unit where I could fly helicopters. I began working hard to make the police option a possibility and I applied in October 2008 with the city of Mesa. About 2 months into the hiring process the city went through a hiring freeze and once again, I found myself waiting and hoping. In the meantime I had found a normal full time job to help the everyday expenses and Giselle was working full time as well.
Almost a year after the hiring freeze, I received a call out of the blue from the Police informing me that they would be considering a few positions for hiring in Nov 2009 and I was one of the candidates still being considered. Everything was looking up again and I went through the rest of the hiring phase and finished taking all the exams and background investigations required to get the job. As November drew near, we were told that instead of starting in November, they were going to roll the class into the May 2010 class and that I was still being considered but now instead of 17 positions they would open it up for 25 positions due to some federal stimulus money being received. The new openings were announced and the city received almost 3000 applications for those 25 new positions. My competition had suddenly increased to tremendous odds but I was sure I would make it through and eventually find a way to continue my flight career while being a police officer.
About 1 month ago, I decided it was time to go back to what I've always been good at: technology, and more specifically: web development, new media, and graphic design. I thought that having my own business would go hand in hand with the upcoming police schedule I would have. I designed my company website and started with all the preparations for launching my "side" business. I planned to leave my current job on April 1st (tomorrow) and I would only be a few weeks away from starting the police academy. In the weeks leading to the launch of my company, I had the feeling that I should not put all my eggs in one basket and assume that the police thing was a slam dunk. Sure enough, earlier this week I received the news that I would not be getting the job with the police. My brother Nik, who is currently a police officer with the city of Mesa confirmed that he had received the news first hand that the city will most likely not hire any new recruits and if anything it would fire 25 officers and hire them right back using the federal money. The worst part was finding out that even if they did decide to go with 25 new officers, I had not made the list! I guess with the re-opening of the positions, there were many highly qualified individuals among those 3000 going for the position.
I guess this news helped put me into the final stage of coping with the original demise of Silver State Helicopters and my dream of flying: Acceptance! I had counted my eggs to soon and I gave my 15 days notice so that I could spend all of April working on getting fit for the academy. Tomorrow is my last day at work and from that point on I'm on my own. The truth is that I've been so excited to start my own business that I really feel I have "accepted" everything quite well. I feel like I've tried my hardest for several years at something that maybe just wasn't meant to be. I have no other option at this point but to accept what has taken place and know that everything happens for a reason. I don't know what I have in store for me after tomorrow but I know that in the big picture, it really doesn't matter. I have the most amazing wife I could hope for, who happens to be my best friend, and I also have the most beautiful son who means more to me that anything else. I already signed the lease on my new office for my new business and I plan on giving it my all to make it work.
Throughout my pursuit of flying I've realized that despite one's hardest efforts, some dreams just aren't meant to be, or at least aren't meant to be for now... In the mean time, I am determined to enjoy the present and work hard at launching my new business. I've already had quite a positive response with many potential clients lining up wanting me to develop their next website or new media tool. It's great to at least be doing something that I love and something that I'm good at. As for flying and being a cop, that will have to wait for another day or perhaps another life. Wish me luck in this new venture that starts tomorrow!
10 months ago