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A Musician Turned Pilot Exhibits It’s By no means Too Late to Discover a New Profession


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“It’s By no means Too Late” is a collection that tells the tales of people that determine to pursue their desires on their very own phrases.

Dwell music was no extra. Patrick Milando may draw no different conclusion. However possibly he may pivot.

It was a summer time day in 2020, a peak of the coronavirus pandemic, and Mr. Milando, a French horn participant, had been driving by means of a locked-down, emptied-out Instances Sq.. Then 67, he had spent almost a half-century as knowledgeable musician, from the Metropolitan Opera to over a dozen years with “The Lion King.” Now that musical, together with a lot else, had shuttered. At an age when his friends have been wrapping up their work, Mr. Milando discovered himself pondering a brand new approach to pay the payments — 5,000 ft above his previous approach.

Typically we leap fortunately to an all-new life. Typically we leap fortunately with a push.

Mr. Milando had begun flying single-engine planes earlier than the pandemic, however purely as a pastime. (He had logged round 300 hours of flight time.) Now, he questioned, may he really change into knowledgeable pilot? He was too previous to fly for the key airways (the cutoff is 65), however there was no age restrict on educating others to fly.

Mr. Milando discovered a small flight faculty in New Jersey and got down to earn his industrial pilot certificates. The opposite pilots there tended to be many years youthful, and never as soon as did he spot a fellow French hornist. (Most appeared to work in computer systems, he noticed.) However he felt at dwelling; flying unlocked one thing in him.

“There’s a freedom, an autonomy. You’re the grasp of your individual future,” he mentioned.

At this time Mr. Milando, 71, has two careers — it seems the dying of stay music had been drastically exaggerated. He splits his time between the orchestra pit and the pleasant skies, the place he teaches budding pilots like he himself as soon as was. (The next interview has been edited and condensed.)

How did you get fascinated with flying?

Being a musician, I did lots of touring. I used to be very intrigued by the flying side. I acquired a flight simulator recreation for enjoyable, when my children have been younger. You’d hear me within the basement yelling, “Pull up, pull up!” After I turned 60, my spouse acquired me flying classes. From there, I acquired my non-public pilot’s license.

What do you want about flying?

It’s very serene. One of the vital pleasing instances is while you’re going by means of the clouds, and also you’re relying in your devices coaching, then hastily you’re above the clouds and you’ve got this lovely panorama in entrance of you.

It’s a rush. The primary time you do it, it’s life-changing. Life-changing and life-affirming.

It appears a tad riskier than enjoying the horn. Was it ever scary?

The scariest was touchdown for the primary time. I bear in mind I had an opera down in West Palm Seashore, and I’m up there with my teacher at 1,500 ft, wanting down on the tarmac, considering, Nicely, I simply should land this airplane. Afterward, I felt like I used to be going to cry. It was simply so intense, and superb.

What prompted you to consider flying professionally?

When the pandemic got here, all of us musicians have been like, “Oh my God, what are we going to do?” The prevailing feeling was that music was going to cease; Broadway was by no means going to return again.

I bear in mind driving at some point by means of Instances Sq. and seeing all the things boarded up. It was actually scary and I assumed, OK, let’s simply attempt profession No. 2. I’m not one to sit down round and do nothing.

So how did you make it occur?

I discovered this small flight faculty in New Jersey, known as Sky Coaching, and acquired my industrial score. Then I flew to Minnesota later that summer time to get my licensed teacher’s score, so I may educate different individuals to fly. I additionally picked up a seaplane score, only for the heck of it. Ultimately I flew a seaplane over Lake Como in Italy and was waving all the way down to — who’s it that lives there? George Clooney?

Anyway now I educate individuals to fly all the things from a single-engine Cessna to a multi-engine Piper.

Are there similarities between music and flying?

My success as a musician has at all times come once I’m completely targeted within the second. Whenever you put apart all of the extraneous issues happening round you. That’s kind of what it’s important to do while you’re flying an airplane.

As a instructor, I’ve had a pupil freeze 100 ft from the runway. I needed to push his palms off the controls and take them. He was in a psychological freeze, couldn’t get out of it. You at all times should be within the second.

How typically do you fly now?

That’s the tough half as a result of I’m chargeable for eight reveals every week at “The Lion King.” Monday is darkish, so I normally pack the day with college students, and simply retaining present on flying totally different airplanes. Then I’ll normally rent somebody to play for me one other day that week, and educate extra individuals. So I find yourself flying possibly 15 hours every week.

Any recommendation for people who find themselves fascinated with making a change like this, however fear they’re too previous to be taught one thing new?

I say go for it, completely go for it. There’s no cause to not.

Are you carried out making massive modifications?

I’m like a shark, I gotta maintain shifting. I’ve run eight marathons; I like studying languages. Now I’m type of questioning about an Airline Transport Pilot certificates, the A.T.P., so I may begin flying individuals all the way down to the Caribbean. It’s just about the ultimate step in aviation.

Every time I say I’m carried out, my children say, “Yeah, I’ve heard that earlier than.” So I suppose I’m going to get that A.T.P.

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