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It’s Thesis Time.

March 17, 2008

Right off the bat I’d like to apologize for not writing on this thing sooner. In truth, my mind has been elsewhere. I’m going to try and make a conscious effort over the next few months to update this thing more often. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in the world of The Wandering Jew and I hope it continues to be conducive to blogging. On to the normal post:


It’s 2AM here in North Dakota and I’ve been spending the last three hours working on adding and editing content to my thesis for graduation from the Honors Program. I had meant to have a lot of this work done over spring break, but circumstances and opportunities at work meant I was at the airport more than was expected during that week. My wallet will be happy in a few weeks but my brain sometimes questions why the heck I made the decision not to work on the thesis more. For those that don’t know, my thesis topic involves a salient proposal for the development of an aviation education program for middle-school aged students in a tribal school setting. It’s a big undertaking, and one that has been amazingly challenging for me.

The catalyst for this idea came from doing an internship this past summer with Cirrus Design during which one of my jobs was spending evenings and weekends giving demonstration flights in the Cirrus SR22 to members of the community. While the entire experience was an absolutely amazing experience, having the opportunity to take people that had never been up flying in a small airplane before was my absolute dream come true. It scared my coworkers at the time, but as I continued doing these flights I realized and vocalized the fact that if I could do introduction flights for the rest of my life, I’d be a very happy man. Many of the other corporate pilots saw this part of the job as a hassle. Perhaps it was the fact that I’m still at that point in my logbook where every hour matters, but I saw these flights not as a hassle, but as a renewed chance to share a small part of a world that has given me so much with the hope that it passed itself on to my passengers.

In the time leading up to my internship I had become incredibly burned out from the world of flying, thanks in large part to personal and departmental issues with UND’s Aerospace program and their Certified Flight Instructor course (the background behind the problem is here). My six weeks at Cirrus reinvigorated my love of aviation and passion for the industry. I left Duluth, MN with 80 hours of flight time and numerous stories & experiences under my belt and the knowledge that general aviation and not the airlines was my home and where I wanted to stay for a career.

Continued troubles with the aerospace school and their lack of accessible troubles did a number on that motivation and excitement I felt after I left Cirrus. I haven’t flown since July of last year, the longest period since I started flying in 2001. Work on this thesis has kept some of that passion alive, but I’m still not all there. My writing style as of late has slowly drifted from academic to narrative over the past few years. I’m frustrated with the thesis process. My motivation has hit huge peaks and valleys thanks to a sometimes perceived and real lack of motivators. The fact that I’m doing a hybrid thesis that is part research paper and part proposal is confusing and annoying. Other stuff going on in life (CISV, SAAC, UND) has distracted me. I love all the travel I’ve been doing and will be doing, but it really has played havoc on my internal clock. This semester I’ve been making a conscious effort to focus more after numerous people told me in December and January to quit over committing myself. It’s worked to some degree, but I’m still feeling scatterbrained.

I hope that having some time this weekend in Denver will allow me to remove myself from the frustrations and distractions of life in Grand Forks and allow me to do some serious work on my thesis, finish my grad school application and prepare myself for a busy summer of Birthright Israel and CISV. I’m also hoping that returning to my family and aviation roots will allow me to rekindle the passion for what I’m trying to do with my thesis and continuing life goals.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2008 2:28 am

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Stacey Derbinshire

  2. March 19, 2008 11:18 pm

    Martin, I’m only a freshman in the aerospace program but I feel like I can relate when you talk about burnout. 102 really did me in. I really enjoy flying and aviation in general but the program’s tempo and stressful “template” philosophy really got to me by the time the semester was over. Over break, I took a step back and realized I wasn’t enjoying it much. I love flying, but it seemed like it had become more of a hassle and something I just wanted to “get done.”

    In my opinion, this is a tragedy. I had no idea about the decathlon’s limit. This, to me, is a HUGE issue and should have been addressed before the aircraft was even purchased.

  3. martinrottler permalink*
    March 19, 2008 11:53 pm

    Thanks for the comment Ryan.

    I found in my history at UND that I had to work hard to make flying fun and enjoyable. I managed to do it for most of my flight courses with a mix of good flight instructors and my own exploration and sometimes exploitation (legally, mind you!) of the system. As I said during the luncheon yesterday, as someone who has had more than half of his experience come from outside of the school I’m a bit scared of what the school sometimes puts out in the way of what I like to term “UND robots.”

    I’d suggest continuing through the program to get your Professional Flight minor as you will get your Commercial license with a minimal amount of hours. You can save a bunch of money and gain a bunch of experience by getting your CFI, CFII and MEI by going somewhere else after you graduate. If you need any pointers, let me know. As we talked about in class, I’m a definite catalyst 😛

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