In plane view

May 15, 2006

Like most pilots, Ingrid Zimmer-Galler, MD, cannot get enough timein the air. While she works countless hours each week and isserious about her professional development, she is clearly devotedto her hobby-flying.

Like most pilots, Ingrid Zimmer-Galler, MD, cannot get enough time in the air. While she works countless hours each week and is serious about her professional development, she is clearly devoted to her hobby-flying.

"Working severely cuts into my flying time," she said with a laugh.

Her love of flying happened almost as an accident.

"When I was a resident [at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota], my husband thought I needed a diversion-something other than work," Dr. Zimmer-Galler said. "He signed me up for some flying lessons."

She agrees that it's important to have a passion outside of work.

"You've got to spend some time playing, too," she said.

The first few hours flying did not agree with Dr. Zimmer-Galler.

"I suffered some motion sickness," she said. "But after a few lessons, the uncomfortable feelings passed and I was hooked."

Dr. Zimmer-Galler earned her pilot's license right before finishing her residency. Her husband, Isaac Yoon, MD, a family physician, and she spent 10 days between her residency and the beginning of her fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute flying to Alaska.

"We rented a plane and took off. I learned so much that trip," she remembered.

She looks forward to working on her multi-engine rating.

In the clouds

Dr. Zimmer-Galler currently flies her own Beechcraft V35 Bonanza that seats six.

"This is the plane we take when we want to get somewhere quickly," Dr. Zimmer-Galler said. She also owns a 1939 Piper J3P Cub, an antique cloth-covered plane. It is in the final stages of a complete restoration.

"The Cub is wonderful for flying low and slow," she said. "It's the plane that was most widely used in the 1930s for pilot training."

Dr. Zimmer-Galler said that being a pilot is like anything else.

"It takes a lot of practice and you must be meticulous-like surgery. You have to pay attention to details like the weather. But anybody can learn to fly. It's not that difficult," she said modestly.

When she is in the sky, Dr. Zimmer-Galler can forget about everything else.

"Everything looks pretty from the sky," she said. "It's a true sense of freedom. You can go anywhere, whenever you want. It's a wonderful feeling."