Are you spontaneous in life? I have become more spontaneous each year. It must have something to do with the feeling I have of wanting to experience life to its fullest while I still have life to live. Also, as I get more organized and better prepared, there is more freedom for spontaneity.
In this article, I hope you’re reminded of the value of doing things spontaneously. Here is the opportunity I recently encountered.
A Bit of Background
Let me first set the stage. I work at a university. The very university where my dad was called in 1955 to start the Aviation Technology Department. Back in the 1940s, he had started to focus his career when he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and went on to pilot a Consolidated B-24 Liberator in 30 missions of World War 2.
Like my dad, I’ve been known for following my passions. For me that was communications and agriculture. Later, my career morphed into one focused on design of curriculum and distance learning opportunities for lifelong learners – in both corporate America and higher education.
On the side, I am a musician. A farm girl (Connemara ponies and llamas). A podcaster. An entrepreneur. Forever curious.
My interests and passions led me to the project of capturing my parents’ experiences in World War 2 in a digital way that would allow more people to learn from them. I’ve been editing my dad’s book of memoirs from the war. I’ve interviewed him and my mom for various projects including my podcast and a 2-disc cd set of her stories about their young married life and the war. Most recently, I created a documentary style course in Udemy about their lives during the war.
Now for the spontaneous moment
Monday afternoon I saw a B-24 bomber flying past the Purdue campus and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t even know any were left that could fly. That was the plane my dad piloted for 30 missions during World War 2. Then I went back to work.
That evening, as I’m walking out to my vehicle, I see a B-17 in the air! Oh my gosh. The curiosity about why they were in our air space was overwhelming! I assumed they were at the Purdue University Airport so that is where I headed. No searches in Safari on my iPhone. No calls to anyone. I just drove to the airport and headed through the terminal where I found four war planes – a B-24 taxiing in from the runway and three beautiful relics on the ramp.
The Collings Foundation had brought the planes to West Lafayette, Indiana as part of its tour. I talked with several of the people representing the foundation including the B-24 pilots, and signed up to take a flight the next morning.
You can see the recording of my Facebook Live stream from the evening before my flight and during takeoff of the B-24 when you visit my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/vjmaris.
I can’t believe I had the opportunity to be in the aircraft in which my dad logged the majority of his flying hours during World War 2. To sit on the floor in the belly of the aircraft while the engines fired up and it charged down the runway has almost left me speechless. At least temporarily. But I know this spur-of-the-moment decision to follow the plane to the airport and to sign up for a ride, will enable me to add first-hand material to my online course about World War 2, and to the talks I give about my dad’s life as a leader, as a pilot and about the war.
Flight in a B-24
During the flight in the B-24, I took pictures and video that will be added to my course in Udemy, Life of a Pilot’s Wife During World War 2. I’m thinking of creating an additional course that focuses more on the aircraft and the experiences of the flight. Honestly, I’m not really sure what is next. But I have to say, that my spontaneous decision to drive to the airport Monday evening instead of heading home, and to make room in my schedule for a flight in a B-24, was life changing and unforgettable for me.
This is the turret in the tail of the B-24 where the tail turret gunner would sit during flight. I took this photo during the flight on the B-24, Witchcraft, which was on tour at Purdue University with the Collings Foundation.
To walk and crawl about the aircraft as it was in flight made me acutely aware of how tight the spaces were in which the crewmen worked. I had tears in my eyes over the dangers they faced with each flight and the causes for which they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
My advice to you – be spontaneous. Keep learning. For a lifetime.
Vickie Maris is a podcaster, author, instructor, musician, & Lean Six Sigma Black Belt who passionately shares insights on teamwork, leadership, learning & life. In her eclectic life, she plays acoustic guitar and piano accordion, is a singer/songwriter, and performs in the band Scott Greeson and Trouble With Monday. She and her hubby, Scott Greeson, live on a hobby farm in Indiana with llamas, rabbits, a Jack Russell Terrier, Connemara pony and one, in-charge, cat. Vickie also has an Etsy shop in which she sells llama roving, yarn and Angora rabbit fluff.