Thursday, November 09, 2006


My first solo:

I'm in a 152, approaching 15 hours total time...

Hmm, circuits are going well. I haven't bent the wingspar for at least 3 landings. Now if only I could get over my crippling fear of heights, I'd be set. The guy sitting next to me is saying something, so I'd best smile and nod. On final, I'll try to flare this time. Ahh, that was a nice touchdown, I bet I looked exactly like Tom Cruise if he flew a 152. Wait a minute, what did he just say? Let him out here? But we are in the middle of the runway. Umm, okay. I'll just shut down the airplane then. No?

Sweet zombie jebus, I'm alone in the airplane. Aight, remember the basics. Do I need carb heat on takeoff? Got..to...think! Push the red knob forward and steer with my feet. Ahh there I go, I'm already up to 20 knots. Now 30! This thing is a monster! 60 knots now, so I think I'm supposed to pull back. Yup, that did the trick, I'm now airborne and all alone! This is sa-weet! I now have the power of life and death over all those puny mortals walking and driving their cars below me! Wait, I'm supposed to do something now.

//(high-pitched, squeaky voice) "Zulu Charlie Tango, downwind for a full-stop, cleared to land"

Wait, was I supposed to say that last part? Whatever, I'm flying solo! Aight, I should do the downwind checklist 'cause this thing is pretty damn fast and it's a handful to fly, and I don't want to get behind the airplane at a critical moment. carb heat on, rpm back to 1,700. Aight, I'm set up for landing. I think I'll land without flaps, I don't want to overload myself. Damn, this runway is small. When I fly a jet I hope I don't have to land on any puny 8,000' ones like this, I'll go off the end for sure. Aight, here I go. All alone, I'm going to pull this off. The runway is coming up fast fast fast, I can barely react in time.

Nice, I think I only bounced once! The instructor said I should taxi in after one circuit, and I agree. I'm exhausted! Aight, here's the ramp area, so I guess I'll shut 'er down and walk in. I won't forget the parking brake this time.

Hey guys, thanks for having the confidence in me to let me go solo! Sure, I'll stand outside to get my picture taken. Captain Sully at your service! You want me to slowly back up against this wall while you get your camera in focus? Certainly, I'll think of a nice pose for the....egad! I can't breathe, icy cold water is all over me. Wtf? Oh, nice one guys. The old "bucket of cold water dropped from the hangar roof" trick. Ahh, what do I care. I may be damp, but I'm a 152 Captain!

18 years later, I can still remember it in minute detail.

So tell me about yours...

11 comments:

k said...

Nice! Nice recall, too... Don't you just love the retrospect-analysis of things you say out loud?

I just had my first solo about three weeks ago. It was horrible, conditions for which I wasn't prepared. I've been up a few times since then and it has been getting better...

If some jackass had dumped ice water on me after that, the most terrifying experience of my life, I'd be posting this from the penitentiary library's computer. But I did leave with less of a shirt. :)

IFR Pilot said...

The story of my first solo can be found here.

Enjoyed reading yours! I still remember it like it was yesterday.

david said...

Year: 2002. Plane: Cessna 172P C-GPMR (the one with the loud, drafty door and AI that always showed a 5 degree bank). Airport: CYOW rwy 04/22, about 530 flight hours ago.

I had been supposed to solo earlier in the week, but got nervous during the dual beforehand and messed up an approach, so we put it off for a couple of days.

Circuit was completely uneventful. The second the instructor stepped out of the plane, my stress level dropped by about 50% and I flew better, and that pattern would repeat itself throughout my training. On landing, Ottawa Tower congratulated me on my first solo (I should have noticed that they'd cleared all traffic within 50 nm of the airport), and I got the jumbo garbage pail of ice water dropped on me from the roof as well (in the U.S., I think, the tradition is to cut off your shirt tail -- people who do their first solos in the winter would probably prefer that).

phil said...

It was 2004 at OAK 27L (tight 600 ft. pattern) and of course I was delighted to realize how quickly the 172 lept of the runway when there was no instructor scrutinizing my every move. I was cheering/yelling on downwind and had to double check that I did not have the mic button pressed. It was an incredible feeling being up there alone.

I don't know wether tower knew I was on my solo but after the second touch and go they had me extend downwind for a jet and "caution wake turbulence".

Devastator said...

Nothing Special... no ice water, no freaking out.

Just a certificate, mug, and the standard "your solo" photo!

Check it out on my blog!

Bryen said...

In 2000, at KLVN (Airlake, Minnesota) in a C172 - third climbout, a small bird glanced off the right wingstrut.

Imagine that.. but no shirt cutting or anything else. Too bad!

Sky Captain said...

My first solo (I had a five year hiatus soon thereafter and so had to start again) was around March 1999 in Jacksonville, FL in a PA28. Instructor Tramel and I took from from KCRG and went across town to the recently de-militarized KVQQ (http://local.google.com/?ie=UTF8&z=14&ll=30.219396,-81.875782&spn=0.03204,0.063&t=k&om=1) and we did some pattern work for a few cycles. What was really making my day was that there was a P-3 in the pattern doing his thing on one of the 18/36 runways. I was in the same airspace as one of them! Think the winds were out of the west that morning, so we were using 27R. Suddenly he directed me to taxi off and drop him at the base of the tower and to go back and fly it myself. I was stoked! Not only was I flying myself around without the instructor, but I was up with actual military aircraft. But wait...it got better! I began hearing chatter on the CTAF that there was an inbound F-14. Holy Crap! Somewhere along the right downwind the F-14 came blasting in and landed below me on 18L. Way Too Cool!!! That's what I remember about my solo. Not actually doing it, but who else was flying around.

SloppyPilot said...

I have absolutly no recollection of my first solo. Everytime I read one of these I try to think back and find it, but it's just no there.

I can reecall both my first solo practice, and my check ride in that kind of detail, but the solo is missing in action.

Splendor said...

Good idea for an entry - so good in fact that I decided to do same ;)

Take a journey back in time to Feb. 2004

CapnKevn said...

Those 152's sure can be a handful, can't they? It's amazing how much runway those demanding beasts can require from new captains flying single pilot. I don't know what I would have done without my checklist to keep track of all those complex systems... My first solo landing wasn't the prettiest but nothing was bent and the feeling was absolutely fantastic. The feeling has more or less remained that way for all the many many landings that've followed. How many other experiences in life are like that? Thanks for reminding me!

moelost said...

Mine's on youtube!

Also, other stories from my training can be found under the flight tag of my blog