My first solo flight was on October first and it lasted for 21 minutes.
On that day I was flying with Klaus. He used to be a fighter pilot in the East German army. Klaus has been flying for 50 years and has probably been teaching for a good part of that. Long retired from the cockpit of his Russian MiG fighter jet, he is teaching a very different crowd nowadays.
That morning, Klaus and I had gone from Strausberg (EDAY) over to Egersdorf (EDCE). The two air fields are about 10 minutes apart from each other and since there is less traffic and a very long grass runway at EDCE, we go there a lot. The day was clear and moderate winds were coming from the east. Klaus and I did pattern work for about an hour. After warming up a bit, we started with emergency drills. Simulated engine failures on take-off and emergency landings.
During our seventh round, Klaus asked me if I had flown solo before. I said no and he did not say much. After the eighth landing, he pulled the break and told me to get off the runway and taxi over to the tower. On the way he told me to do three more touch and go’s on my own now and then come back to pick him up. I was thrilled!
He double checked with me if I felt comfortable going solo. He told me to take it easy. He would be watching from the tower and would be in touch with me by radio.
Everybody told me that the first time alone in the plane is a very special feeling and boy were they right! I did what I had done before but the absence of the instructors watchful eyes made all the difference!
I knew that the aircraft was very light. But I was still surprised how clearly I could notice the absence of the second person. When I pushed the throttle forward for take-off, I was airborne almost immediately and I reached the pattern altitude before the first turn.
The three rounds I did went well. On the second one I came in a bit too high but all in all it went well. But the significance of the first solo was not so much the technical aspect of flying but the emotional aspect of doing it alone.
No second pair of eyes in the cockpit with me, no one to ask if the approach looked okay. Now it was me and what I had learned so far. This sudden independence was exhilarating. I was now able to bring an airplane to fly and I could safely land it again – I could fly!
When I picked Klaus back up at the tower, I could not get the smile out of my face.
To be continued…
(originally posted on April 4, 2011 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/first-solo/)