Learning to Fly: Flying Solo
Today I flew a plane by myself. All alone. Just little old me and a whole lot of metal and responsibility.
It is one of the best days of my life and one of my greatest achievements so far. My vanity levels are pretty high but for today I have earned the self-esteem boost. It’s not every Saturday morning that you fly a plane by yourself for the first time.
Flying solo is a milestone. The instructor that has filled that left-hand seat for every flight so far has suddenly disappeared and you are on your own. For a student pilot it is the transition from ‘Can I do this?’ to ‘I can do this.’ And guess what: I can do this.
The day started pretty normally, I woke up early and went to the airport, preparing myself for more circuit practise* Before flying I did the pre-solo exam because I knew that I was approaching flying solo, the idea of it made me nervous and I had no idea how many more lessons it would take to be sent off on my own…
It was a beautiful, clear morning. We did circuit practise as per usual, my instructor getting extremely picky about my technique. But after about an hour she turned to me and asked, ‘do you think you’re ready to go solo’.
I didn’t think about it. I said yes.
Everything went very quickly. We landed, requested taxi back to the runup bay, my instructor made sure I was OK and she left.
Just little old me and a whole lot of metal and responsibility.
I requested taxi, tower cleared me for takeoff and I increased the power.
In a matter of seconds I was flying solo.
I don’t know if there is a better feeling in the world. I knew my heart was beating on the verge of cardiac arrest and I shaking like a bad Taylor Swift Lyric, but I was flying a plane. And I actually knew what I was doing.
I turned at the right height. I maintained a safe height, I made my landing call, I did the pre-landing checks, I reduced power, I used flaps and I landed the plane.
As I cleaned up the plane I managed to maintain enough control to make my call.
“Parafield Ground, MCJ, request taxi Runup Bay F to collect instructor”
“MCJ, Congratulations on your first solo! Taxi to F.”
I will never forget that radio call. It’s not every day that the Tower congratulate you. But today I had definitely earned it. Apparently I can fly.