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Love At First Flight

September 10th, 2007

Many Camillus young people know Andy and Peggy Matlow, as Falcon Ridge hosts and longtime Town Shop volunteers and friends. Recently, there was a newpaper story about them and their passion for aviation.

Berkshire Record

By Josh O’Gorman
Lovebirds Andy and Peggy Matlow literally took flight when the newly licensed airplane pilots recently flew together for the first time.

Peggy and Andy Matlow pose in the cockpit prior to their first flight as licensed pilots.

The Matlows had never previously flown together because only licensed pilots can transport passengers. So, while the two had spent hours together studying their aeronautical lessons, they had never had the opportunity to observe each other in action.

Prior to their marriage eight years ago, Peggy had presented Andy with a three-page, single-spaced list of the qualities she was looking for in a husband. Andy met all of the criteria—including being a pianist and an excellent cook—except for one: he was not a pilot.

“I liked the idea of flying, but I didn’t feel I had a natural propensity for it,” Andy said.

By chance, Andy happened to speak with an acquaintance that was a licensed pilot who shared with Andy the joys of flying, and in doing so lit a fire under him to become a pilot as well.

Andy went home and told Peggy he was ready to check off the final item on her list, but with one caveat—she had to become a pilot, too.

Andy said Peggy immediately embraced the idea of taking lessons, adding that she didn’t just want to be married to a pilot, she wanted to fly, too.

The two began taking lessons with Berkshire Aviation Enterprises in January 2006, which is located at the Great Barrington Airport.

Over the next 20 months the two slowly worked toward their pilot’s licenses.

There are no timetables for how long it takes to become a pilot, Peggy said, but rather a series of benchmarks that need to be met, such as night flights, solo flights and written tests.

“Some people solo after five hours, some people solo after 30 hours,” Andy said. “It depends upon your level of comfort.”

Peggy felt the instruction program moved at exactly the right pace.

“When you first start, you never think you can do this alone. But by the time you take each step you’re ready,” Peggy said. “One of the most thrilling moments of my life was when [flight instructor] Tom Vigneron climbed out of the plane and I took off alone.”

The two continued to take lessons intermittently, taking breaks when work and life intruded on their free time, but their pillow talk consisted of discussions of flight plans and radio protocol.

After postponing it several times, Andy and Peggy took their final test with a FAA instructor at the end of August, allowing them to travel together.

Both agreed the test itself wasn’t the hard part.

“The anticipation was worse than the exam,” Andy said.

Peggy agreed, saying, “The hardest part was the couple of weeks leading up to it.”

Labor Day weekend, the two set out together, with Peggy taking off first. She wanted to give Andy an opportunity to look out the window, something he never does while flying.

They toured Berkshire County, noting farms and houses of friends before heading west into neighboring Columbia County, where they landed and switched pilots.

They both agreed that they compliment each other well, with Andy feeling more confident on the radio and Peggy enjoying navigation.

“We both felt confident in each other’s flying,” Peggy said. “We were both taught by the same instructors so we had similar styles.”

The Matlows plan to fly to the Basin Harbor Inn on Lake Champlain in Vermont on September 25, where they will have lunch and celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary.

“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done and it was wonderful to share it with my wife,” Andy said.

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