Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

How to Marry a Pilot (MAP)

A Layperson's Field Guide


December 1, 2020

Photo courtesy of Tanya Heavirland

Patrick Heavirland and Tanya (Otten) Heavirland at Oshkosh 2018.

Identifying a Pilot

Surprisingly this will be the easiest task on your quest to marry a pilot.

The pilot will identify itself. Any interaction with a pilot will result in identification within mere moments of natural conversation. We call this PSP (Pilot Swagger Positioning).

• They are proud of their pilot status.

• They prefer aviation conversation to any other topic on the planet.

• This unusual breed is comfortable making decisive decisions and moving forward quickly. History has shown that cutting to the chase in conversation will allow one pilot to identify another pilot rapidly, or at minimum other human subjects with some aviation knowledge such as astronauts, aerospace engineers, aircraft mechanics or the like.

Determining if the Pilot is Dateable

This step in the process will push you to explore new personal interests and ideals. It may be confusing; but hang in there. You'll eventually learn to appreciate the "New You." This ritual is often referred to as the PTT (Personal Transformation Task).

• Does your pilot have the ability to focus during non-aviation related conversation?

• Is your pilot willing to watch movies other than Top Gun, The Aviator or The Rocketeer?

• Are you regularly interrupted by your pilot snapping their focus to the sky while shouting an airplane model, engine size and prop type?

These are inherent pilot behaviors. I caution you.... DO NOT try to modify these behaviors, simply observe and show interest.

Here are a few TMAs (Transformative Mimic Approach) you can use, during this stage, to show your pilot you are interested in them.

A. Lightly study aviation topics so you can occasionally and intelligently chime in during general conversation time. This will go a long way to impressing your pilot.

B. Google one-liners from movies such as Pearl Harbor, Red Tails and Fly Boys and be prepared to at least mumble through a few of these lines as you watch your pilot's favorite movies. This will show your pilot you are supportive of their interests.

C. Take note of the most commonly flown planes in your area. When you hear an engine overhead, randomly shout one of the airplane names. Doing this will at minimum get your pilot's attention and you will be acknowledged. It may sound something like this... "Nope, not a C130, but I believe one flew over last week." Your pilot will appreciate your effort and may even offer a reward like... "Nice try, though." Furthermore, your pilot will most certainly follow up with the correct airplane data.

If you've determined you are capable of the TMAs recommended above, it should become clear that your pilot is dateable. If A, B or C are unattainable for you, then, you must move on. You will not secure a long-term relationship with this pilot.

Planning a Social Life with a Pilot

If you've made it this far, it's looking hopeful and you should quickly move on to regularly dating which includes spending meaningful time together, traveling, having new experiences and exploring all your common interests.

1. Let your friends and family know that you are dating a pilot. They will be excited for you and this will come in handy later. DO NOT skip this step.

2. Determine how many of the 52 weekends per year you are willing to dedicate to aviation related activities.

3. Forget what you decided in step two and pencil the words (General Aviation Shenanigans), also known as GAS, on every weekend moving forward.

4. When your family comments that you are never around, remind them that you are dating a pilot and how excited they are for you.

5. Google Oshkosh (not children's overalls, the city in Wisconsin). Really dig in and learn as much as you can about this city that celebrates a little known national holiday the aviation community simply calls "Oshkosh."

6. Even though you don't eat gluten or sugar, start introducing pancakes and syrup into your diet. This will come in handy on Sunday mornings.

7. Request time off work for Oshkosh and any fly-ins that require leaving work early on a Friday. Don't forget to tell your boss that you are flying there and if the weather turns, you may or may not be back to work on Monday... it might be better to expect you back on Tuesday. Trust me, this will go over very well with your employer. It's best to have an open relationship with them to avoid future potential conflict.

8. Study aviation tools and invest in good knee pads. Also, practice standing on concrete and leaning over at odd angles while holding three or four tools at a time and likely a wire or airplane part. You will be spending a few weekends working on your pilot's airplane and a little planning will ensure you have the best experience possible.

9. At any given moment, be prepared to change your evening plans and haul @$$ to the airport so you can hop in a buddies plane and fly 34 minutes to a restaurant, while discussing the length of time it would have taken to get there if you would have traveled by car (breath). This is a thrill and will make your heart race. Embrace the feeling. It's exuberant.

10. Save a "knots to miles" conversion table on your phone. Your pilot will frequently switch back and forth between these measurement systems. This is a common peacocking technique that pilots use to show they have superior intelligence. Also, if you have the chart handy, it may be a rare opportunity to make a correction to your pilot. Caution! Only make the correction if you are 100 percent certain you are accurate, or your correction will be dismissed entirely, leaving you feeling quite sheepish.

Spotting Wedding Bells on the Horizon

Discretely observe your pilot for these characteristic changes. I would not recommend prompting or suggesting these behavior modifications, simply let them happen as naturally as possible. Note: These characteristics will be subtle but are a clear indication that there is space in your pilots life for you and your basic human needs.

• It will likely happen on a Saturday morning. The rhythm of the morning will be seemingly familiar and filled with the hum of aviation YouTube videos and conversation regarding the preparation for the days pre-determined GAS. It will come when least expected, perhaps just before you depart to the airport. Your pilot will look lovingly into your eyes and ask if you would like to stop for a Starbucks on the way to the airport. Don't be overwhelmed. This doesn't mean go inside and sit down for a visit while you have your Starbucks, it means, hit the drive-through. Rejoice! Your pilot, being a creature of habit, has just acknowledged that you too have habits and basic human needs. And they are able and willing to care for these needs. NAA (Non-Aviation Accommodations) is a promising step in the right direction.

• Make it a Venti...You're in it for the long haul now and this gas is cheaper than aviation fuel.

• Your pilot begins presenting you with some seriously sentimental gifts. These gifts are known as MPT (Marking Pilots Territory) gifts. They will include but are not limited to the following: Earrings made out of airplane wire, a red, tight-fitting t-shirt with these words embroidered on the front "Remove Before Flight," and when things are more advanced you may also be gifted with a weekend getaway to Lindbergh State Park.

Romancing your Pilot

It would be a shame to have gotten this far, only to have your hard work fail you now. It's important to learn your pilots love language in order to keep them engaged in the relationship. There is a plethora of proposed tactics to keeping your pilot close. For beginners, try these.

• Invite your family and friends to the airport. Your pilot will enjoy being seen in their natural habitat. They thrive best and make fast, meaningful connections when they are given the opportunity to share stories about the origination of their airplane as well as modifications they have done, plan to do or are dreaming of doing one day. They will also appreciate the opportunity to give rides in the airplane so their flying skills can really be on display. This will go a long way and is part of the process of allowing your pilot to claim their territory (which you are hoping includes you, right?).

• Help organize airplane tools. You may not know the names of the tools or understand their function, but a good pilot loves a tidy toolbox. This is a basic pilot need and should be penciled in as a regular activity.

• Become proficient at cleaning the airplane. Your pilot will not be able to resist you once you have mastered this skill. Expect your pilot to tell all their aviation friends about your skills. Expect photos to be posted on multiple aviation Facebook forums. Expect your pilot to read all comments from aforementioned aviation Facebook forums. We've identified this behavior as the GES (Glowing Ego Syndrome). If you successfully achieve this pillar, CONGRATULATIONS! You have arrived at a pivotal moment in your relationship. This is what romance feels like. It doesn't get much better than this! Your pilot is showing how proud they are to have you by their side. It won't be long now...

Preparing for the Proposal

This is a crucial step in the process, it is not meant to be taken lightly. Please note: It is critical that if you have determined you are not a good fit for the aviation lifestyle, get out now! A small word of caution. Although your pilot is of superior intelligence, this breed tends to be inherently sensitive. We call this genetic disorder IBN (Intelligent Brain Neuropathy). If you choose not to move forward with this step, do so quickly and gently. However, if you are still hoping to marry a pilot and you have been diligent in field identification of the previously mentioned characteristics, and have mastered the tactics as described in this guide, your pilot will soon come to the conclusion that the aviation life is more enjoyable when you are present and are in full support of the lifestyle.

• When your pilot proposes... do not waiver, say "YES!"

Marrying a Pilot

You've really done it! You made it to the final stage and in record time. You successfully identified, courted and capture your pilot. It's now time to plan a celebration that mirrors the size of your accomplishment. It's no small task, but as you've clearly made it through the previous stages, I am confident that you have what it takes to pull this thing off and with the appropriate amount of class and nods to aviation as your pilot will require.

• Start a Pinterest page and begin collecting countless inspiration photos surrounding the idea of an aviation theme wedding.

• Approve your pilots suggested venue, the hangar.

• Spend countless weekends organizing your pilots hanger, in preparation for the celebration of your nuptials.

• Occasionally show your pilot photos from your Pinterest page to assure them you are on track for an aviation theme event as well provide gentle reminders to them that preparations for your big day, the one where you will be officially become part of the aviation family, are included in general aviation shenanigans; they will, after all, be done at the hangar. You may have to make airplane noises while showing them the photos. Don't despair, if you do this while no one else is around, you will maintain your dignity.

• Be prepared. If your event is well planned and organized, it will not only give your pilot an overwhelming sense of pride that his choice of mate was identified correctly, but they will be more relaxed and will operate at the highest desired level during the wedding. This behavior is often referred to as the PPR (Peak Pilot Response). It is both achievable and enjoyable to experience.

• Wedding photos must include the airplane. If done properly, you will also secure a picture-perfect reminder of your love and dedication to your pilot and the aviation lifestyle.

• Plan an impactful entrance to your wedding. Your pilot will revel in the feeling we call ABN (Aviation Bliss Nuance). They will experience a natural high for many hours to follow and this is entirely to your benefit.

• When the moment you've worked toward has finally arrived and the officiant asks you if you do, without a moment of hesitation, state your agreement by replying "I DO."

Photo courtesy of Tanya Heavirland

Newlyweds, Patrick and Tanya Heavirland September 2020 in front of Patrick's Aeronca Chief.

At this very moment, I would like to congratulate you. You have successfully MAPed!!! Your hard work, dedication, personal sacrifice and development, inner discovery and training have paid off and brought you across the finish line. I would love to tell you what your future holds, but as I am a newlywed, I am only embarking on this journey with my pilot. It's been exactly three days and 18 hours since I uttered the words "I DO" and I believe I am experiencing what has been classified as an AWOS (Aviation Wedding Operation Success). It's either that or the effects from the aviation fuel fumes that filled the air while gassing up the plane.

I've been warned that it's not always easy; I've been warned that my time is no longer my own; It has been requested that I register for ground school. And I'm not naive in estimating there will be a few more challenges and changes coming soon, but I know I'm prepared because I've made it thus far and I've come to understand the rules of the aviator's lifestyle. My growth track has been exponentially more advanced than originally anticipated and when I was presented with my PWR (Personal Wedding Ring) I achieved a new heightened status and now have the privilege of sharing my knowledge with the general, non-aviation community, especially those in pursuit of what I now have. My pilot.


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