Second first solo

Second first solo

Visibility: about 10 kilometres
Temperature: -1°C
QNH: 1025hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Cessna 150 (D-EALX)

It is a cold morning. The first of the season, really although it is nearly February. The grass on the airfield is covered in white frost. The atmosphere is dense and cold and the wind sock hangs down with not enough air movement to shake off the nights frost.

There is a lot of activity on the airfield. A crew of four workers is getting three of the Stemme motor gliders ready that are parked on the apron. They perform checks and wipe the ice off of the wings. Two or three other aircraft are being made ready on the apron.

At the door of the flight school I find a note “Meet me at the hangar”. I arrive over there as the instructor has just started to pre flight the little Cessna. I check the fuel and we pull her out of the circular hangar.

Lima X-Ray starts up almost immediately. Good girl. We taxi over to the apron and give her a minute to warm up. The carburetor pre-heat expedites this process.

We take off into the cold. The sky is grey but the ceiling is more than high enough. There is almost no wind. Perfect conditions for a low time student.

The first landing is a greaser. I round out, hold her parallel to the runway until the stall horn chimes and then let her settle onto the runway. Just like I learned it. The flight instructor is happy. He gives me a bit of advice on the timing and tells me to fly a larger pattern. He starts talking about a solo.

After the second landing he breaks. He tells me to do another two of three landings on my own – if I feel like it. Is he kidding? I’m thrilled!

I am giddy but not quite as excited as with my first solo. After all I have flown aircraft on my own before. I know that I will be able to land it somehow. On take-off the missing weight of the instructor is noticeable but not as much as in the ultra light. I reach the pattern altitude a bit faster, that’s about it.

Lima X-Ray and I have started to become friends. I treat her gently and she forgives my clumsiness in return. My first solo landing is very respectable. Not as greasy as when the instructor was sitting next to me but good enough. As I take off after my second landing, I pass the instructor while he walks down the side of the runway. Apparently he is not afraid for his property enough to stay out in the cold.

After two touch and goes, I announce my intention to finally land on the third run. My instructor comes on the radio and tells me to keep going if I like. I sure do!

After six successful landings I have had enough. Lima X-Ray and I are done for the day. We go back to the apron and taxi by my first love, the trusted Lima Juliet. She is about to take another student to his wings. I waive at my old instructor and he smiles at me.

To be continued…

(originally posted on January 25, 2012 by tilbo at

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