Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Going Solo!!!!

Well, that moment of truth came at last. I was given the thumbs up to take control of a plane and fly it on my own. It was a bit nerve racking, but SO MUCH FUN.

Kevin came in and said that he didn't need me to do more touch and go's, he was happy with the ones I did yesterday. I had to find an instructor to do my check-ride (easier said than done because everyone was either conducting lessons, or the wankers that weren't busy simply didn't want to know) and get them to observe three touch and go's from the co-pilot seat and then if they were happy, they'd endorse my logbook to fly solo. Eventually I found someone, a Welshman called Neale who is one of the head instructors. Kevin went off for his medical and said he'd be back in time to see me go solo.

I pre-flighted "Zulu Papa", knowing that the old girl wouldn't let me down today. Matt was in "Golf Foxtrot" and I was happy he took the cantankerous old cow up earlier that day. Neale and I taxied out and I took off. and I felt funny having someone else sitting in the plane with me. The first circuit was OK, but the landing wasn't anything to write home about. I rushed it a little bit, so i think that's why it was shite. The second was MUCH better. Good set-up in the approach, and took my time all the way down. It was a loving smooth landing, needing a little rudder to keep her nose straight. The next landing was to be a flapless one. I got a little too low on the final approach and used some power to keep the height and speed up. When I was happy, i pulled the throttle back and just glided onto the runway. Because it was a flapless landing the plane floats a bit but I had another good landing. We taxied back and Neale gave me the all clear to go solo. So I called Janis and told her the good news. She asked me to stall my flight because she and John wanted to come down to watch.

I pre-flighted "Zulu Papa" and got set to take her off. Matt was taxying back from his flight and gave me a wave. The boys then stood to attention and gave me a salute (in mock Squadron style) and I saluted back and took her out on my own. I asked Ground Control for taxi clearance and messed up right away. There's this wanker in the tower, he swaps between ground and approach control, and he pulls you up on ANY little mistake. I was supposed to let them know I'm a student doing my first solo, so I called "Student Pilot at Anglo with Oscar (the weather) requesting taxi clearance to Runway 27 left." He replied back "Is Student Pilot your callsign??". I said a quiet "fuck" to myself, and repeated everything with my callsign first and "Student Pilot" last. Got my clearance and taxied out. Did my checks, lined her up and away I went.

It was amazing to notice how fast the rate of climb is when I'm on my own. Kevin's not a heavy guy at all, but I was already my required height before I did my first turn. So I throttled back, to stop the climb and to also avoid traffic quite close to me. I called when I was abeam the tower and enjoyed for the first time the fact that I was "Pilot in Command" of this particular flight. Set up for the approach and saw the traffic ahead of me on finals. It was a lovely approach, the only worry was that the traffic wouldn't exit the runway in time. but they did and again, I had a lovely soft of the better ones. I also stopped quite close to the first exit. Taxied back to the school and got a round of applause and a huge hand shake from Kevin. And then I got a bucket of water thrown over me in the traditional "first Solo Dunking". The rest of the evening was spent recounting the flight to anyone who'd listen and celebrated by several beers. I'm going off to fly again solo for the next few hours and then I think we'll start navigation after the weekend.

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