This past semester I was honored to be a recipient of the Air and Law Institute’s (ALI) Inspiration Scholarship Award. As a part of this award, the Air and Law Institute brought me out to San Diego, California, to attend their symposium. I’ve been really struggling with writing this post because I just don’t even know where to start!
While at the symposium, my days were packed with an incredible schedule. I ate breakfast with a Naval captain, toured an airplane restoration workshop, went on a helicopter ride over the city and met countless aerospace and law enthusiasts and field leaders. I could write pages and pages of details about being there and still not capture it. So instead, I decided to write a little bit about feelings and revelations on receiving this award.
While visiting with the lovely ALI, I was constantly exposed to–drum roll–aeronautics! Crazy, I know. This may seem obvious–of course there were aeronautics, it’s the AIR and law symposium! Silly Astronaut Abby! But to me, it was more than just a conference about air and law. It was a gathering of people with passion for air and law. It was a community of people who had come together to share and grow. That’s a powerful thing.
One of my host families while I was there (coincidentally also one of the main organizers of the symposium) took me out to a particular spot before dinner one night. At first I wondered what exactly we were doing. We had stopped on top of a seemingly normal hill. After about 10 minutes, the sun began to set. Planes had been flying overhead toward or away from the airport every couple of minutes, and we had been naming them based on their appearance and sound. As the sun reached a certain point right behind us, Dave rushed us into a line in the middle of the street. We held hands and Dave took a picture with the sun and a plane going overhead.
In the past I haven’t had very much exposure to earth-based flight. The majority of my focus and the experiences I’ve had in relation have been surrounding purely space travel. I’ve always had a passion for flying, and known that I want to learn to fly, but this interest had always been placed on the back burner for me, as something I would do in the future. After attending the ALI symposium and being an honoree… I’ve realized that this isn’t something that has to take second place to my interest in manned spaceflight. This isn’t an interest that has to take place in the future; I can start chasing aeronautics now! Attending the ALI symposium sparked a new passion in me to get involved in flight, and I am grateful for the experience.