Flying High: Amanda's Story

March 2023

WAY Widowed and Young member Amanda from Scotland shares how she took up flying as a new focus after her husband Davie died.

“I have always loved planes. I’ve always wanted to learn to fly and used to say to my husband Davie when we got on a flight that one day he’d be sat there and hear me say ‘this is your captain speaking’. I never in a million years ever believed that flying would ever become a reality for me. Travel was our thing and we’d end up in the most unusual places for our holidays.

Amanda flying a plane

“I never in a million years ever believed that flying would ever become a reality for me.”

On my birthday in August 2021, Davie surprised me with a voucher for a trial flying lesson at Alba Airsports at Perth Airport in Scotland. Working full time, having four kids between us, multiple rescue dogs at home and running a charity in my spare time meant that fitting it in was difficult. We agreed I’d book for the following spring and we’d make a day of it. We didn’t realise then that our lives were about to change and our time was running out. 

In November 2021, Davie became ill. Just ten days before Christmas we discovered he had advanced pancreatic cancer, which was inoperable and had spread to his liver. He was too ill for life extending chemotherapy. Just six short weeks later, on 29 January 2022, Davie slipped away.  

Devastated didn’t even cover how I felt. I received support from the charity Marie Curie and found out about the support group WAY Widowed and Young, who were there to support people like me who had been widowed before they were 51. I joined and the support has been incredible. The darker days are shared with others who have become members of this group – it’s an awful reason to be eligible for membership but it helps knowing there are others who understand how this feels.

Finding a new focus

Amanda with the plane

I’d forgotten all about the flying lesson until I was going through paperwork and found the voucher. I knew what I needed to do. I booked a flying lesson for what would have been Davie’s birthday in July. I decided I needed to celebrate his birthday because the alternative would have been too awful.  

On the morning of his birthday, I took flowers down to his grave. In the afternoon I travelled to Perth Airport where I had my first flying experience. It was incredible. My instructor was fabulous and really put me at ease. Almost as soon as we landed, I wanted to get back up there. Within days I’d signed up for lessons! 

Now we are a few months in and I have clocked up 15 hours’ flying time. I can do all kinds of manoeuvres and spend every weekend, weather permitting, taking flying lessons over Perthshire – I can’t even start to describe how great it is. I’m building confidence as time goes on. I won’t ever do anything other than fly for fun though!

I’ve always been the type of person to get busy when I’m sad. I won’t ever get over losing Davie and I miss him every moment of every day. It doesn’t ease the pain that he’s not there but it’s given me a new focus. I can’t help thinking how proud he’d be of me every Saturday when I climb into that plane.”

Amanda’s story  was featured in the April 2023 issue of Prima magazine.