June 1, 2004
First Solo Flight Logged
After dreaming of becoming a private pilot for so many years, I took one step closer to realizing that dream tonight. I flew the plane solo for the first time. After my last lesson, my CFI urged me to get my Medical Certificate and Student Pilot License, as I was ready to be signed off for solo flight. That was both exciting and a little nerve wracking to hear. But surprisingly for most of the Memorial Day weekend I thought about things other than flying and was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.
Terrible storms came through the Midwest over the holiday but left cooler weather with clear skies behind. The weather looked great all day but as the day continued the winds began too pick up. I was worried they might become to strong for my instructor to feel comfortable with me soloing. I thought I might arrive at the airport nervous, instead I arrived focused and excited for today's opportunity. I checked the weather and although the winds were strong, they were coming straight down the runway. It was a perfect night to fly with or without an instructor.
After pre-flighting the aircraft, my instructor and I took off to do some landing practice. She had me execute a few regular landings followed by a simulated flap failure landing and then an emergency landing with no engine. I remembered my earlier lesson that with the strong tailwind on downwind that I needed to turn early on base if my engine was dead in order to ensure the plan could reach the runway safely. After successfully completing that maneuver my CFI asked me to bring the plane to a full stop and return to the terminal. She asked if I was ready to solo and I said I was. She got out and sent me on my way.
I taxied to the runway and without hesitation took to the air once my pre-takeoff check list was complete. There was little traffic around Blue Ash today which allowed me to focus on my flying. When I didn't have my instructor their monitoring my every move, I was much more vigilant, ensuring I was flying the perfect pattern. On my first approach, I looked down to see I was hitting my airspeed and descent rate perfectly and I brought the plane down for a soft landing. I followed that up with two more great trips around the pattern. My last landing was the best one I have made to date. I am sure that was partially due to the excitement of having completed my first solo flight.
All in all, I flew solo for only .3 hours with three take-offs and landings. It may seem small but I am sure any pilot will tell you the time spent on their first solo will always be remembered. I know that June 1, 2004 will be a date I will remember for the rest of my flying days.
This seems to be a great time to recap my flight training. I started my training 34 days ago and have had 12 lessons to date. I have logged 13.7 hours of flight time, with 0.3 of those hours solo. During those lessons I have made 55 take-offs and landings. In a perfect world this is where I am supposed to say joy of flight - priceless. In the real world the cost for this great experience thus far is $1529.70. I share this for those who are thinking of learning to fly and want to know what it will really takes to earn a private pilots license.
I am now cleared to train solo at my leisure. I plan to fly with my instructor twice this week with the next flight on Thursday. Next week I might take advantage of my new privileges and do some solo training. Thanks to my wife, my family, friends and instructor for all the support!Posted by Todd McClamroch at June 1, 2004 11:04 PM