Thursday, March 6, 2014

My First Official Flight As A Private Pilot

After passing my PPL Checkride, it was time to start thinking about first flights. I had decided early on that my first official passenger would be my grandfather, GP (abbreviation for Grand-Père). I attribute my love of aviation directly to him. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been going to airshows with him, or had his awesome models hanging on my ceiling. I can remember the days when we'd visit him down in Florida, where I would be outside for literally hours with GP, flying our rubber band-wound, balsa wood planes. 

I see it as fitting that my first flight as a licensed pilot was with GP, it made for a very memorable experience. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

A typical situation occurred on the day of my first flight, marginal VFR weather around Richmond. My pilot-judgement was being tested right from the beginning of my license! MVFR weather was isolated to our Southeast and was headed Northeast, so I made the decision to go flying, but not to go too far away. Instead of flying to the Southeast as I hoped, I decided to go to some more familiar airports to our Northwest (Lake Anna and Louisa). Here's what the weather looking like: 

In the screenshot below from CloudAhoy, you can see our full route of flight: 

The flight didn't turn out as well as I would've liked for my first flight with a PPL. It was pretty turbulent and gusty, making for some less than perfect landings. Once we landed at Lake Anna (7W4), I let GP know that we were going to do a touch and go and Louisa (LKU), and then head back to Hanover (OFP). Why waste the time and money on a bumpy, unpleasant flight, when we could pick a much better day to do it? It wasn't terrible flying, just uncomfortable in general. 

Screenshots from our landing at Lake Anna (7W4): 

Screenshots from our landing at Louisa (LKU): 

After taking off from Louisa, we headed straight back towards Hanover. Luckily, we were straight in for Runway 16, so we saved some time by making a direct approach. The landing wasn't bad, a little off centerline because of the crosswind, but not great either. 

In all honesty, I was a little disappointed by my first flight as a licensed pilot. I was understandably a little stressed about the new responsibility that was on my shoulders. It wasn't just my safety anymore, but the safety of my passenger that ended directly with my decisions. It was a good move to end the flight early and to wait for another day. On random days you'll find that that flight-wise you just aren't "feeling it," on those days the best thing you can do is to reschedule in my opinion. If it's an uncomfortable experience, reschedule for a better day! Not all of your flights are going to go as well as you hope, and that's ok! It's all part of a bigger learning experience. 

I want to thank GP for being my first passenger. We'll find a better day soon for another flight! 

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation


  1. Congrats, Swayne. I bet GP was pretty impressed with the flight, even with the crosswinds and TB!

    1. Thanks Aleks! I hope to go up with him again sometime soon... to some airports that I haven't been to yet.

  2. This is a GREAT DAY!!! Congratulations. And I love the toddler photo. Could you get any cuter?!

  3. Hi Swayne, I just found your blog and I love it! I'm taking my first lesson for my PPL in two weeks! Anyway keep up the good work.
    Cheers from Melbourne, Australia.


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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin