“Feel like flying by yourself today?” – Going solo for the first time
I still remember my first solo as if it were yesterday. It is such an achievement that I don’t think it’s something that will ever be forgotten. I had some idea on the day that it might happen as I’d been practicing circuits on the previous few lessons with my instructors, but this wasn’t confirmed until I arrived at my flight school in the morning and my instructor casually asked, “Feel like flying by yourself today?” Of course I was extremely excited and said yes, however naturally, I was also quite nervous.
I started by doing a couple of circuits with my instructor, at which time he had me land at the main pad and he got out. He had warned me that the first take-off without him sitting next to me would feel quite different due to the weight and balance change and to be very cautious, however I didn’t fully appreciate just how different it would be until that first time. The Robinson R22 lifted a LOT easier and faster with only me in it and the control inputs needed were quite different.
After taking off and beginning the circuit, I remember looking across at the empty seat next to me and having the biggest grin on my face, but also thinking to myself, “Wow, there’s no one here to help me if something goes wrong!” It was strange being so excited, yet so nervous at the same time. I remember going over the emergency procedures in my head as I flew around the circuit in the event that something went wrong.
After flying around the circuit for about an hour, I informed the tower that I would be making a full stop at the main pad to pick my instructor up. I landed safely and my instructor jumped in to position back at the flight school. I was so proud of myself for sticking with it, even when it felt like I would never get there. There was also a massive feeling of relief upon landing safely and knowing that I could do it by myself. Upon returning to the flight school, I of course called my family to share the momentous occasion with them.
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