Superman, Amelia Earhart and Bay Area resident Sue Ballew share a passion for flying. As a child growing up in Southern California, Ballew would search the sky for planes from nearby John Wayne Airport.“I can remember spotting airplanes when I was 3 years old and pointing up to the sky,” she said. “Later on, I’d be one of those kids who would tie a towel round my shoulders like a cape and pretend I was Superman.
“”I didn’t start flying until later in life because I didn’t relate flying like Superman to flying an airplane. So when I finally realized I could fly an airplane, I took flying lessons.”
Through personal experience, Ballew discovered just how important a good instructor is when learning to fly. “I got to the point of soloing,” she said, recalling an early incident. “I got lost and couldn’t find the airport. The tower eventually talked me down … I realized I needed an instructor who could teach me in more detail how to find myself if I ever got lost. They were short on instructors and so I quit for eight years.”
Eventually, she found an instructor who helped her learn the art of pilotage, navigating by landmarks as well as instruments, and she never got lost again. That’s also when she decided to become an instructor in order to help other pilots learn how to find their way by recognizing a freeway, an airport or a body of water. “Even if they think they know where they are,” she said, “I want them to know every single landmark so if they ever have a problem, they’ll know what to do.”
Ballew provides professional flight instruction at Palo Alto, San Carlos and Hayward airports. She also pilots Bay Area sightseeing flights.
For more information about Ballew, visit her Web site at www.skytrekker.net.
Photo courtesy of Sue Ballew.