A career in aviation is often referred to in terms of hours. The clock is ticking each time that we take to the skies and then dutifully entered into a log book with details of the flight and the hours and minutes aloft. Many opt for the digital equivalent of a log book these days but, being old school, I still prefer the pen and the page with monthly tallies and total time calculations.
I am currently working through my eleventh log book with 22,000 hours of flight time so far. As I flick through the many pages, it is as close to a diary that I will ever possess. Side notes, clippings and occasional photographs remind me of the many adventures and friendships that aviation has afforded me. And yet, for all of these hours, the places and people, there are hours that I treasure far more.
Since being grounded, I have lived a somewhat more “regular” life. Sleeping in my own bed, home every weekend and walking extensively each day. Whether helping with homework or standing by a sports field, they are memories to treasure. These hours matter more for they are spent with family.
I have always endeavoured to be an active participant in our kids’ lives, coaching teams, attending concerts, shuttling them to and fro at all hours. It is this prioritisation of family that Kirrily and I have always held sacred. It has been perceived as being to the detriment of our careers at times but we are at ease with every decision that we’ve made.
In the same way, we have always treasured our relationship and marriage. Despite both of us being airline pilots, we have juggled rosters so that one of us has always been at home for the kids. We have also spoken each and every day, regardless of where in the world we are. This ritual predates mobile phones and texting to the days of phone cards and phone booths.
We all hear the catch-cry that “family is everything” and see it scrawled across greeting cards in a range of fonts, but at its core, it’s one of life’s great truths. They are the moments and the memories that we hold dearest. Yes, the log books hold memories too but we cannot hold a log book like we can a wife or child. Life is all about balance and every hour, every minute and every second counts. However, for every tick of the second hand it is the time with those that we love that take pride of place. These are the special hours.