Pivotal Moments; How Flying Changed My Life


By Tom Morrison

In 6th grade my elementary school teacher told my parents that I would probably finish high school but attending college would be a mistake.  She said I’d never finish.  My personal expectations were very low. Emotionally, I was dealing with a sister who suffered brain damage after catching the measles from me at an earlier age.  The combination of guilt and low expectations did not make for a very motivating childhood.

Flying changed my life.  One summer afternoon after my graduation from high school, a neighbor who was an airline pilot took me on my first flight.   Everything changed.  Within a year I had my private pilot license.  A year after that I obtained my commercial and instrument ratings.  Shortly after that I became a flight instructor and accumulated 600 hours of instruction.  At the same time, I graduated Summa Cum Laude  with an engineering degree in aeronautics from Arizona State University.

Ultimately, I didn’t choose a career in aviation.  I graduated from law school, became a corporate executive, started a successful national company in healthcare serving all the nations hospitals and two thirds of physician offices, served on Federal advisory committees and consulted with the Obama White House on healthcare information technology policy and architecture.

Aviation has a unique power to motivate people and provide a new perspective on life.  In my instructing, I saw this unique power first hand.  My experience is not unique.  I am filled with gratitude to have been fortunate enough to be introduced to aviation at a pivotal moment in my young life.