A new book by Pamela Hale captures the beauty of flight

Flying for many people is simply a way to get from point A to point B. But for those who really love to fly, getting to a destination is only part of the experience. The journey itself—soaring above the ground and experiencing the serenity of flight—is where the enjoyment lies.

Pamela Hale, a local spiritual life coach and author, began her love affair with flying at an early age. Her father was a bomber pilot during World War II. He was shot down over Germany and killed when Hale was a toddler. However, she grew up unafraid of flying and was enthralled by it. "I saw (my father) as a hero. I admired him. And that made me want to fly," Hale says.

When she turned 40, Hale wrote a bucket list that included getting a private pilot's license. "I didn't have the money; I had never been up in a small plane, and I didn't know anyone who had one," she recalls. Nevertheless, Hale got her license at age 57.

Her husband, Jon, and her flight instructor were great motivators, but in the end, Hale says she "didn't want to disappoint myself. ... Flying would give me material to ... help other people step into their authentic power and overcome their fears and doubts."

Hale saw many metaphors in flying that applied to life, and she created an inspirational manual, Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life. This self-published book was released in March and recently won a gold medal in the self-help category in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

With a beautiful aerial photo of blue sky and white mountaintops on its cover, the book invites you to open it. Flip through, and you'll find an additional 50 spectacular aerial photos taken above the West and Mexico. Hale, who is also a professional photographer, jokes that she didn't take the pictures while piloting the plane.

The mesmerizing photos show the beauty and stillness of our planet when viewed from above. Colors and textures of the earth—mountains, clouds, trees, water and more—pop on the glossy paper. Hale decided not to label the photos to allow people to have a more-imaginative experience. It's clear that Hale honors what she calls "the privilege to see the Earth from above."

Educated at Stanford and Columbia universities, Hale writes with honesty and clarity. In her book, she details her flight training along with personal challenges, including two bouts of breast cancer. But this book isn't all about Hale. She outlines "seven flight lessons for soaring beyond your limits."

The lessons take the requirements for a successful flight and apply them to everyday life. Lesson No. 1, "Know Where You're Going to Land," is about "finding a place of safety and security inside that no one can take away from you." "Bring Enough Fuel for the Journey" is lesson No. 2, emphasizing our need to take responsibility for self-care. Lesson No. 3, "Take the Pilot's Seat," is a common thought, but Hale explains it with a twist. "All the years I flew in the right (co-pilot's) seat and took the controls, I thought I was flying." But she equates that with putting a toddler on your lap as you drive, moving the child's hands and saying the child is driving.

My favorite lesson is No. 4: "Remember Why You Long to Fly." "Find the beauty and inspiration in life to pull you out of the place when you forgot what it's all about," Hale says. While learning how to fly, she became discouraged, and her flight instructor prescribed "a beauty flight." They went up, and Hale experienced the "beauty and the wonder and the freedom" of flight once again. The remaining lessons are "Communicate With the Controller," "Broaden Your Scan" and "Give Way to the Winds."

After a nighttime flight to Casa Grande, Hale experienced another lesson, which she calls "Laughing on Final." She remembers the airport being lit up and "looking like Las Vegas" as she began to prepare for landing. She mistakenly began to fly toward the taxiway instead of the runway. After her instructor guided her to land safely in the right place, Hale started laughing so hard that tears ran down her face. At that moment, she remembered just how important it is to not take ourselves so seriously. Only then can we soar beyond our limits.