He asked me to define my point of no return…

John and I met for a ground lesson on Tuesday where we planned, in detail, the D.C. to Paris trip, looking at routes, fuel, cost, altitude, and dates. At a sunny table at the Starbucks at R.E.I. downtown, we took both launched Foreflight on our iPads and started inputting airport identifiers.

Here is the planned itinerary: 

Washington, D.C

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Gander, Newfoundland

Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Faroe Islands

Edinburgh, Scotland

Paris, France

We will fly approximately 7,800 nautical miles round trip, which is about 50 hours of flight and a whole lot of fuel…

Once we planned the route, John said something I never thought I would hear him say.

“You need to plan your points of no return”

“Excuse me?”

What the heck was he talking about? When it comes to commitment about flying, I am pretty confident that this will be a part of everything I do, from here on out. Was he challenging my commitment to these flights? I gave him an incredibly quizzical look and thought he was joking. As a fairly new pilot, I had never heard such a dramatic request. Little did I know, John was being serious. When crossing oceans, there is a calculated plan as to how far you can travel over water, taking into consideration fuel requirements, mandatory fuel reserves, diversion for weather and emergencies. Once you cross your point of no return, you are forced to forge ahead to your original destination, even if there are complications. He wanted to plan the point in our routes at which we could no longer safely turn back to dry land.

This really got me thinking.

At what moment had I crossed my point of no return in my commitment to flying and adventure? Looking back, is at this point, a non-issue. How could I possibly return to a life without flight? If my daily life were a flight plan, I would be surrounded by ocean, with no plans to divert to a more conventional existence.

Trying to pinpoint the exact moment when I decided that my days would be motivated by a love for aviation and adventure would be impossible, but I can narrow it down to a week where I was absolutely lit up about life. It was an experience that happened right here on the blog… in a vulnerable moment of excitement, dream-filled ambition and partial lunacy, I told the world right here on the blog that I wanted to re-trace Amelia’s North American route in the Cirrus. Stating out loud that you are going to do something usually puts a little ooooomph behind your intentions, at least in my experience.

Since that post, I’ve had plenty of daily doubts about whether I am smart enough, strong enough, etc. to accomplish all my flight goals, but overall, I have generally stayed on course towards an adventurous attitude all leading toward a flight around the world. How would it feel if I suddenly woke one day, gave it all up, and went back to a life of non adventurous boredom? If I gave up wanting to challenge my boundaries, see this gorgeous world that we live in, and stayed safe and grounded all the time? It just wouldn’t be me.

This is the definition of my point of no return: I am now past settling for a life of ordinary routine and I understand that I am capable and deserving of a rockin’ life of adventure and passion.

If you are feeling bold, ask yourself this…

Is there something you love so much in your life, that if you were to pull away from it, you would feel empty, lost, without direction and lackluster?

Whatever that thing is, chase it. Live with it. Let it excite you. Dance with its potential. Drink it in. Let it exude from your smile. Don’t be scared by the unknown in regard to what makes you thrive. Fall in love with feeling this great and do it as much as you possibly can. Encourage others to do the same.

If you connect with this, you are absolutely, 100%, past your point of no return. You are in it for the long haul. Consider yourself lucky… lots of folks can’t even figure out what they are passionate about, let alone something they can’t imagine their life without.

If you are nowhere close to feeling like you are past a point of no return, don’t worry. It will hit you when you least expect it, but don’t be fooled. You have to work for it, look for it, under every rock and behind every door. You must be curious, inquisitive, loving and eager. Everyday.

Want to hear from a couple of folks who agree? I sure do.

If you make the unconditional commitment to reach your most important goals, if the strength of your decision is sufficient, you will find the way and the power to achieve your goals. Robert Conklin

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Walden, Henry David Thoreau

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


12 thoughts on “He asked me to define my point of no return…

  1. Alpha Romeo, thank you so much for your words.You have stirred memories within me long suppressed.I have been passionate about aviation since way before I learned to fly in ’69 and I don’t see any end in sight now that I am flying Gulfstreams. It is still great to go putz around in a Cessna or Champ from time to time…..

  2. Well said Amelia. Last year, I too made the decision to rid my life of the mundane in search of excitement and inspiration. I gave up a career after 11 years, sold most of my personal belongings and set out to complete a bicycle tour of the west coast. My way of hitting the re-set button. After four months of riding, exploring and flying with my old instructor, I returned to Colorado with eyes wide open and the confidence and clearity to live what I consider to be a more meaningful life. What you are feeling is natural. It is easy to construct a percieved reality in your head when taking on such challenges, but I have come to learn that, with the will to try, comes the opportunity to fail or succeed. Either way, there are rarley any regrets. You are smart and strong enough to accomplish your goals. Let the excitement, knowledge and the smile upon your face lead you. Good luck, fly safe and enjoy the ride.

  3. Awesome! I did almost that same flight in reverse 25 years ago in a DC-3! Long before GPS – and Loran was useless due to oblique triangulation – so pretty much dead reckoning. You’ll absolutely LOVE going into Narsarsuaq! Safe travels!!

  4. Amelia, some times your words are prophetic. We love to be in the RV, travel and be adventorous. Well the house is on the market, actually have a contract after 2 days on the market. We are going to sell 90% of our worldly possessions and move into the RV full time. We will do this for a year, and if we like it, we will buy a larger RV and stay on the road, otherwise, we buy another place and smile at stepping out for awhile. Unfortunately I will still be working, but I will doing it from someplace mild, such as Colorado in the summer, and someplace mild, such as Texas in the winter. So wherever I land, I will let you know, so you can do a flyover and I will wave with a smile on my face.

  5. Well said! I to have hit a point of no return. Last August, I quit my job and career of 15 years, and enrolled in a professional aeronautics degree program. I am on my way to getting my professional pilot credentials, and degree. It still seems like a dream sometimes, but one I don’t want to wake up from. Keep up the good work!

  6. This post and some replies have provoked some “deep thoughts.” As a 45 yr old Mom of 2 wonderful daughters I choose an exciting and adventurous life. My dreams are never over. And, they always take work. Having a fun husband and kids who love goober humor we get to have an adventurous life on the ground, riding the slopes, raising a puppy, learning to dance, doing MMA, so much I can’t type it all. I love this post! It’s never over. It doesn’t mean irresponsibility. It’s a commitment to a passionate life. I want that for my kids, my husband and me. Blue skies to you!!! Safe travels.

  7. Well said! I think your statement “I understand that I am capable and deserving of a rockin’ life of adventure and passion.” is as strong a message as Conklin , Thoreau or Holmes ever wrote. Safe flying and good on ya for inspiring some new aviators!

  8. Amelia,
    Thank you for inspiring all of us who love aviation. You have a wonderful, positive outlook in everything you do; you are a perfect role model for student pilots and experienced flyers alike.

    I know you will accomplish everything you set out to do, including recreating that historic flight! We all look forward to being there with you every step of the way!

    Daniel Weller

  9. Thank you for an awesome post and confirmation that when you step out and try something new, do it with the intentions of achieving the end goal. I too had never thought of the “point of no return” when starting my business. I only thought about what was at stake in my life and why I needed to do this.

    Although I’m just an aviation fan, (never have flown in anything smaller than a CRJ) your blog is so full of life lessons and inspiration pushing those who read on to bigger and better things.

    Thank you!

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