CLT Member Shares Story of Life-Changing Journey
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
It wasn’t until he was laid off from his job in 2006, that Fort Mill resident Jamie Cannon officially learned the true value of life. After graduating from Clemson University with an engineering degree, he was hired right after graduation for what he believed then to be his dream job. With the job coming to an abrupt end not long after, Jamie knew that he would have to take a break from it all; refocus on where his life was going and what he wanted to do.
With the sudden desire to shake things up, and the need to act on something that would have an achievable, set goal, Jamie decided to work towards something that seemed a nearly impossible task– to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety. Though an inexperienced outdoorsman with only a one-time backpacking trip under his belt, Jamie was not deterred and set out to begin his 2,175 mile-journey of a lifetime.
The best advice Jamie can give to anyone considering a life-changing event? Do it. “I didn’t know if I would actually finish and I was going to be fine with that,” he says. “It goes back to the old saying that the hardest step is the first. We have so many molds in today’s society that it is healthy to break free of them.”
During the duration of his five-and-a-half-month hike, Jamie came to learn a lot about himself. The solitude enabled him to dissect who he was as person, and to think about what he wanted to do with his life -- something he struggled with as he fought to figure out what job out there fit the specific criteria he had in mind.
Ultimately, it was air traffic control that met Jamie’s criteria.
It took one year and eight months, from the time he decided to pursue ATC at the conclusion of his journey until his first day of work, to make this goal a reality. Hired on with the FAA in September 2008, Jamie was put to work at Charlotte ATCT that December. He immediately joined the union and continues at CLT today as a developmental, proud to be halfway through his training to become certified.
“In my own mind, I see parallels in my hike and me becoming a fully-certified air traffic controller,” explains Jamie. “I was the first off-the-street hire at Charlotte, which is rare since it’s a level 12 facility. Just like hiking, I had no aviation experience but knew that if I could stick with it and not give up, that I had a chance for success.”
In regards to the inspirational experience he endured, Jamie wrote his own book, In Walking Distance, which stemmed off journal entries written along his hike. “It's a story of someone not really having much know-how, but if you're determined, it can be done. The mind is the most important thing we have. We're not always prepared and don't always have everything in order,” explained Jamie to Spartanburg Herald-Journal earlier this month.
He continued: “No matter where this life takes me, there will be nothing that compares to the trials and tribulations, mental and physical challenges of being an Appalachian Trail thru hiker.”
Click on the link below to access the Spartanburg Herald Journal article featuring Jamie's story: