A flight less traveled

Teacher pursues her passion for flying


Photo by Peyton Sims

Alison Butler displays photos ranging from her first family plane in Venezuela to her recent flights with her husband. Butler included the Bible verse Ephesians 3:20 as a reminder of why she has accomplished her goals.

Story by Peyton Sims, culture editor

Planes soar across the open sky, leaving a white trail lingering next to the clouds. Young children desire to experience flight, up in the sky, alongside the birds. For most people, the admiration fades away as one matures, but for Alison Butler, the dream only grew.

Mrs. Butler became familiar with the classroom setting, because of her 19 years of teaching. From teaching first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh grade, as well as teaching kindergarten through eighth grade Spanish, she had her hands full. While she still substitutes occasionally, her new focus has a set of wings. 

“I fly now as a passenger. I fly with my husband, Mark, and I enjoy helping him. It was fun to take lessons. The respect I have for pilots is huge,” Butler said. “Mark and my dad took lessons for years so that they could fly for business. I learned quickly that I would rather be a flight attendant. I originally thought I would have the freedom to go anywhere, anytime. However, if the weather changes, you’re stuck when you’re flying a small plane. You have to spend years practicing before you can fly other people, so it can be lonely.”

Butler has been exposed to flying throughout her childhood. While she was growing up in Venezuela, Butler’s father, who flew seaplanes, would fly them from country to country. 

“My father would fly us to the islands in the Caribbean,” Butler said. “One time, in South America, my parents and I grabbed some food before going on our flight. We packed everything in a picnic basket. We ended up having a picnic in the sky as we flew over the Caribbean.”

Trust and commitment is vital to the Butler family when it comes to pursuing passions. The strong relationship she has with her husband and children makes her job immensely easier to manage. 

“Mr. Butler is headed back to fly as a Captain for United for his two weeks of flying. Years ago, I paid for his training by being a teacher,” Butler said. “I wanted a return on my investment. He is an outstanding husband and I trust him. He loves me, and I am a good wife.” 

There are many advantages that come with being in a family full of pilots, including traveling across the country. 

“Mark is an airplane captain, so as a passenger, I have been to 42 states. I have eight states left to visit. He has suggested I try to visit five. Soon, I will be heading to Alaska, Wasington, Idaho, Arizona and Delaware,” Butler said. “I’m currently planning for all of my [upcoming trips], and my suitcase is packed. We are saving my final three states to visit, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, for this summer, then I will have been to all 50 states.”

Photo by Peyton Sims
Butler’s father’s plane sits on the water waiting to take off. Alison first experienced flying in her small family airplane.

Flying has moved on to the next generation in the Butler family as well. Growing up around the art of flying, Alison and Mark’s son, Jake, has also practiced on the runway

“Jake was about 16 when he thought he might want to be a missionary pilot which is why he took lessons. He even has a tiny plane in the garage that he had to learn to take apart and put back together himself. He went off to college and became a certified airplane mechanic and he fell in love,” Butler said. “He’s now happily married to his wife, who is not a fan of flying. He ended up getting a degree in business. My daughter, Andrea, was pursuing a theatre degree while Jake was taking lessons. She was not interested in taking lessons herself.”

Having such a unique passion, it can be difficult to pinpoint the highlight of one’s career.

“I love the adventure. Packing a small suitcase, going to the airport and looking at all of the flights listed on the departure boards [is] my favorite,” Butler said. “As a captain’s wife, I fly standby, but I can fly anywhere the airline flies as long as there’s an empty seat. If one is available, the gate agent shouts out my name. It’s like being a contestant on a game show.”

While Butler could stress about the trials and tribulations that come with flying, she remained faithful that her career plan would work out. Christianity plays a huge role in Butler’s life. To this day, Butler keeps her classroom role in her Bible to pray over every night.

“One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20 which says ‘Now all glory to God who is able through His mighty power at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think,’” Butler said. “That verse makes me feel loved and protected. It reminds me that God is in control and He has my back. Christianity means everything to me. Life can be exhausting, but my relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit has grounded me with God’s truth. He gives me peace when the chaos in the world drives me crazy.”

Dreams are worth reaching for, despite how bizarre they may seem. Sometimes, certain measures have to be taken in order to stick to a specific ambition. 

“I had a hard time being comfortable in the plane as a pilot. Some days the radios didn’t work well. Other days it was too windy. I had to realize that while flying made me happy, being uncomfortable made me miserable. I kept asking God to help me figure out what thrilled me about aviation. I believed Ephesians 3:20,” Butler said. “It took a while, but I realized I could go to more places as a passenger. I knew that this was a way to fulfill my desire to travel. I wanted to take this gift while I was still young and in great health. We have to be willing to take the opportunities that come our way. We have to be willing to say this is not for me and keep searching for the things that make us fulfilled.”