Finally, after two failed attempts due to poor weather, I woke up this morning excited and ready to go. With perfect, cloudless, blue skies and pretty low wind I finally had the chance to do my first solo flight. Needless to say... I was pretty excited! With only 4.4 hours under my belt going into today, I soloed pretty early. I'm glad my instructor had confidence in me to do everything safely!
We headed out to the airport at about 8:30am for the scheduled flight time. I was lucky and found a time in which my whole family, even my grandfather, could be there. For years I had only dreamed of getting ready to go out and fly by myself, but today was the day, and I was ready. For the first time, I saw a jet come into the airport. Apparently they come in a lot on the weekdays, so I hadn't seen one until today. Maybe one day I'll be in the cockpit of a plane like that!
I pre-flighted the plane and got ready for the first part of my lesson. My instructor and I went up to do 4 takeoffs and landings before I would solo, just to make sure I was 100% ready to go. We went through some last minute information, reviewed more about the pattern, made sure I was good on radio calls, and tested out the growing crosswinds. After a good 4th landing, I taxied back to the ramp area to let my instructor out of the plane. When he got out it was a pretty weird feeling, a mix of excitement and worrying I would do something wrong. I knew that he wouldn't let me solo unless he was 100% sure I was totally ready to go.
By the time I began taxiing to runway 34, the winds were at about 6 knots, blowing perpendicular to the runway. I was second in line for departure, behind N16HV (another Tecnam aircraft). After he turned to his crosswind, I decided to go ahead. If you've never flown solo, it feels pretty different. I noticed on rollout how light the plane felt and how it quickly jumped off the ground.
I looked over my shoulder down to the ramp area and saw my family with cameras waving and really loving it. That made me feel pretty good. I was glad that I was able to solo today for them. Flying in the pattern was fun. I really noticed how quiet it is. You're all alone in the plane with the occasional radio call... so it was pretty relaxing and really enjoyable. That is one of my favorite parts of flying. When you go up, all you have time to think about is flying that plane. You don't have time to worry about what is happening on the ground with life, people, school work, etc. That is something I know I will always love about flying.
As planned, I did 3 takeoffs and 3 full-stop landings. When I landed, I exited the runway, did a full post-landing checklist, and taxied back up to the run-up area. On the first landing, I looked over to my mom who was jumping up and down, more excited than I was!
The other landings and takeoffs went well. My first landing was by far the best, 2nd was the worst, and 3rd was second best. It was pretty windy on final, so I got thrown around a bit, but it all turned out ok in the end.
After the last landing, I taxied back to the ramp area, shut the plane down, and was greeted by my super excited family. Tons of photos later we were inside getting my endorsements down and had my shirt tail cut off. They explained to me the story behind why your shirt tail gets cut off after your first solo flight which was pretty interesting: First Solo Flight: Traditions
Thanks to everyone who has supported my with this goal of mine; I couldn't do it without you guys!
-Swayne Martin: From Private to Professional Pilot