November 23, 2015… the day I flew my first solo.
I read the pilot forums. Many of them said that it would be like nothing I have ever experienced before. They said that the plane would fly completely different due to the absence of the instructor’s extra weight, causing the plane to climb like a homesick angel.
Many of the forum commenters are currently pilots, either for hobby or career. The advice was similar across the board — enjoy this flight because it will be your last first solo. I followed all of the advice.
When my instructor hopped out, I gave him a thumbs up and taxied to runway 04. When it was finally my turn, I proudly announced to the world, “This is Skyhawk 1833Y, rolling out on runway 04… Traffic in the pattern be advised that I am a student pilot and this is my first solo.”
Away I went.
Boy, everybody was right. The plane lifted off of the ground as if it were meant to fly. 800 feet came sooner than I thought it would and I turned for my crosswind. “Skyhawk 1833Y is turning crosswind for runway 04.”
Listening to other pilots chatter on the radio, I waited then announced, “Skyhawk 1833Y is left downwind for runway 04.” Everything was right where it was supposed to be. My speed was 100, my altitude was 1100… Time to descend!
I pulled the carb heat out, added 10 degrees of flaps and pulled some of the power out. I aimed for that same house I always end up descending towards on my downwind. “Skyhawk 1833Y is turning base for runway 04.”
As I turned on my base leg, I heard that oh so familiar puttering noise — the noise that the plane makes when I have it perfectly tuned for landing. It was time, “Skyhawk 1833Y is turning final for runway 04.”
I pointed the nose towards the runway and planned my approach. I had a strong head wind and a bit of a crosswind so I added a little bit of power to stretch my glide. Once I was over the runway, I pulled out the power completely and yawed the nose around. Wow, this thing does not want to go down!
I floated over the runway for quite some time as I waited for the wings to slowly lose lift. Touchdown.
Instantly, a smile covered my face. I looked to where my instructor usually sits to find an empty seat. There are no words to describe this overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
There’s something about trusting your training that is hard to understand until you actually have to trust it. For me, the amazing feeling that came with flying alone was the shocking realization that my life was in my own hands. The reality of my mortality intensified the thrill of living life to a level that will be hard to duplicate elsewhere.
Today, I stepped even closer to my dreams.