Barbara Jean Sonntag pilots a small airplane under the tutelage of Diane Micci, a Colorado Northwestern Community College flight instructor.  Sonntag created a list of things she wanted to do before leaving this world, and flying an airplane was one of them.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Barbara Jean Sonntag pilots a small airplane under the tutelage of Diane Micci, a Colorado Northwestern Community College flight instructor. Sonntag created a list of things she wanted to do before leaving this world, and flying an airplane was one of them.

She did her to-do

Seventy-year-old Craig woman lives out her dream of flying

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Barbara Jean Sonntag pilots a small airplane under the tutelage of Diane Micci, a Colorado Northwestern Community College flight instructor. Sonntag created a list of things she wanted to do before leaving this world, and flying an airplane was one of them.

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Barbara Jean Sonntag, left, and Diane Micci, right, have a laugh before getting on plane Thursday morning at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Sonntag and Micci piloted the aircraft from Hayden to Craig and back.

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Barbara Jean Sonntag pilots a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Micci took off and landed the plane, but Sonntag was allowed to fly the plane for most of the time.

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Sonntag is presented a certificate upon completing her lesson by Micci.

— Someone walking by might have believed something was wrong, that the woman crying in the car at the Spectrum Jet Center parking lot was overwrought with grief.

Nothing was further from the truth.

Barbara Jean Sonntag, a 70-year-old Craig woman, just had one of her best days. Just lived out a dream, she said.

The moment didn't register until she reached the parking lot. The realization caught her, emotion gripped her, and she cried with her daughter, Cathy, who was nearby.

"Have you ever wanted something so bad," Sonntag said, "and got it?

"I can't even talk about it. I'm still overwhelmed. I just cannot believe what I just did."

On Thursday morning, Sonntag stepped into the cockpit of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

After Diane Micci, a Colorado Northwestern Community College flight instructor, ushered the airplane off the ground and elevated it to a safe altitude, she handed the controls over to Sonntag.

With this small, simple act, the goal a 19-year-old girl set 51 years ago was fulfilled.

"Check one off your to-do list, Barb," Micci said.

"It's more than I thought it would be," said Sonntag, her hands guiding the four-seat, single-engine plane west, her eyes scanning the horizon ahead. "I am speechless. If you only knew."

The to-do list Micci referred to are things Sonntag said she wants to accomplish before she dies.

But, don't misunderstand her.

Sonntag said she's in good health and doesn't plan on leaving this world anytime soon. But, no one knows how long they'll be around, and it's best to pursue goals while you can, she said.

"I want to get out of life all it has to offer," she said. "I can't come back and do it again. I've got to do what I can while I'm here."

She once set a goal to become a world-class crocheter.

Check.

Until 2005, she was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest crocheter by notching 147 stitches in a minute.

She once wanted to dance on Broadway.

Check.

Although it wasn't in a musical, Sonntag tap-danced on the streets of Broadway during a visit to New York.

She wanted to fly.

As of Thursday, check.

Accomplishing these things didn't take some Herculean effort, Sonntag said. Just a positive frame of mind.

"People don't have dreams, wishes or goals anymore," she said. "A lot of dreams are suppressed.

"I remember growing up (hearing) 'you can do anything you want to do.' You have to go and get what you want. It's not just going to come up to you. : Don't talk about it. Go do it."

Sonntag isn't done pursuing goals, isn't through chasing things she can cross off her to-do list.

She mentions wanting to learn line dancing. She talks about dancing at a Greek wedding.

She speaks of speed. Yeah, she says, speed is the next biggie.

She wants to hop in her 2006, six-cylinder Dodge Stratus and let the car fly for all the miles per hour it's worth.

"I love speed," Sonntag said. "I want to race. I want to legally open it up. All I need is a quarter-mile strip."

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