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First solo.

Old 20th Sep 2013, 06:39
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First solo.

I watched this clip about Cranwell..

.. and was wondering if anyone would want to share tales of their first solo? The rehearsed actor in the clip doesn't seem to care but how different was it for you, did you know the night before and spend a sleepless night or did your instructor simply toss you the keys with a knowing smile, and do you still remember every detail or did it go in a blur? Instructors too, what was it like.. what was the drill - was there one?

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Old 20th Sep 2013, 06:49
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1972 RAF Ternhill, Kirby Cadet Mk111. An incredible experience as a young Air Cadet. Thank you to anyone who was involved in teaching and trusting me to fly.


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Old 20th Sep 2013, 06:50
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First 'solo' in a Nimrod was the best! No nerves from us at the front but the crew down the back were a little jittery....
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 07:29
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First real solo, just like OAP, was in a Kirby Cadet Mk III, only mine was from RMB Condor in Arbroath. Lovely day and I still remember looking out to sea on the downwind leg and the view of the airfield. Can't remember the date though but probably 80/81.

First jet solo. JP 3. RAF Elvington. 1983. Don't remember whether I had a sleepless night but I still remember the weather, the view of the empty seat next to me, the circuit itself.

Can't remember all of the first solos that I have authorised - after the event. And sadly can't remember who was the first person I sent solo or where it was, but I do remember sending first solos at a number of airfields and standing in the tower watching them go.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:00
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Kirby Cadet Mk III (Theme developing here?) at Burtonwood. Accelerated into every corner as the prospect of stalling in the turn terrified me. Something very special about your first solo, and couldn't resist a look over my shoulder to cast an eye on the empty seat behind. First solo on any new type is also a special event.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:09
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First solo was at Southampton (not mil) dodging the commuter traffic. Uneventful apart from the 2nd worst landing in all my time flying.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:14
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Sywell, summer 1961, bank holiday Saturday (when it was still at the start of the month). I was 17 and a half Les Hilditch growled "Want to go on your own?" As I taxied the Auster J1 out I noticed that strictly against instructions my parents had driven up from W London. Did a decent circuit until I had to overshoot as someone had turned in front of me (no radio) and did a second circuit and landed - brilliant. Until I discovered that my dear old Mum had turned to another student and said "Is he going solo. What by himself?" Other student was on the same entry at Cranwell eighteen months later - so the story got about. You still out there -MTP?
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:16
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Yup, Kirby Cadet for me too. Whitsun 1974 at West Malling - perfect weather, great instructors, can remember it as though it were yesterday. (Shame I can't even remember where I've put my glasses these days.)

I remember thinking as I released the cable, something along the lines of, 'Well, this is a glider. No engine, the only way from here is down, so best not make a pigs of it.'

First powered solo came later that summer - Cessna 150 at Shoreham on a flying scholarship.

First jet solo, JP5A from Barkston 1980, and then ten years later, after flying Hawks, F-4s and then Hawks again, came my first ever real solo in an aeroplane with no back seat. For some reason that was even more special than all the empty back/right hand seats put together
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:19
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On a Flying Scholarship at Wellsbourne in '95 on a Cessna 152 G-OLEE.

I was last on the course to go solo and as such I was nicknamed 'Orville' (Not after the aviation pioneer, but the fat little flightless green puppet!) and was clearly nervous.

The aircraft failed the power check at the holding point which meant an embarrassing taxi back for the CFI to jump in and sort out which did bugger all for my nerves.

With the engine running sweet, I made a second and far more successful attempt at launching, singing to myself as I went to deal with the nerves. Just when I thought I'd calmed down, my door catch gave up the ghost allowing the door to fall open. I cra**ed myself and to this day I can't recall the final 5 minutes of that flight and have no idea how I managed to land it.

My second solo was an hour-long circuits bash. After numerous overshoots, sorry, low-approach and go-arounds, I clocked up only 1 landing. Some things never change....................
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:23
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My first solo in a single seater was 3 years ago at a small airfield in France in a Pegase glider on aerotow, 52 years after my "first" solo. All over the place (Pegase is pretty sensitive especially in pitch) so I thought "fly it like a Gnat", so one finger on the top of the stick - brilliant - soared for an hour - that was pretty special
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:25
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Scared sh*tless. From beginning to end. Seriously considered giving up. Didn't. Don't know why.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:29
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My RAAF instructor (I was an RAN Midshipman) at RAAF Pearce mid 1968 crossed himself (in the Roamin' Catholick fashion) as I taxied forward turning left, to see him do so, on my first Vampire solo; after earlier getting through the basic Winjeel training at Point Cook. Oh those RAAFie chappies and their sense of humour. Never understood it meself.

Last edited by SpazSinbad; 20th Sep 2013 at 09:02. Reason: Changed the year & stuff - to protect the innocent - because I can
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:37
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Kirby Cadet 1961.

JP3 Syerston 1964.

But the one I remember best was Hunter Mk6 at Chivenor when, after getting airborne I thought "well nobody else could be in here even if they wanted to".
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:39
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19 Feb 1962 - Barkston Heath - JP3 XM454. My instructor, Peter Woodham taxied in ( I thought the trip was over), jumped out and said "It's all yours".
15 mins later I had done my first solo T/O, circuit and rather bumpy landing - the start of a 45 year love affair with flying.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:40
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First solo was in a K13 at Cosford some 20 odd years ago. I remember screaming 'Yeeeeeees!' as I released the cable. Can't remember too much else about it but I obviously got down OK...

First powered solo was in a 172, bit of a non event, just another bit of the ladder to PPL. Best bit of the PPL training was the qualifying xc, felt like a real power pilot when I had done that.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 08:45
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My first solo took place at Dunstable Downs on 23 July 1971. After a number of winch launches in a K13 (385) including a few simulated cable breaks, John Cardiff said it was time for me to go off by myself. Go get a parachute, (what?why?), a quick briefing and then my first solo was also my first single seat solo in a K8 (107). 18 years old, what a feeling.

Didn't continue for various reasons until.....

First powered solo 10 July 2003, PA38 G-RVRF at Sleap. Thanks Alan, I'm not giving it up now!
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 09:31
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27th November 1960. Hunting Percival Provost T1 XF 549 at High Ercall, Tern Hill's relief landing ground. A cold frosty morning with large patches of ice on the runway and virtually no wind.
After thirty minutes of circuits Flt Lt Elkins had me taxy back to the take off point, unstrapped and told me to do it by myself. He supervised my take off checks, warned me to avoid the ice patches and disappeared.
Take off and climb was OK but downwind I looked over at the empty right hand seat and felt very strange. The approach was fine the and landing was a three point greaser.
I rolled to the end and then not being sure what to do I taxied all the way round the perimeter track back to the take off point for my instructor. He climbed in and bollocked me for not taxiing directly back down the runway because he was freezing cold.
He flew it back to Tern Hill so that the occasion could sink in.

My last flight in command was on the 7th November 2008, almost forty-eight years later. XF 549 only lasted another three and a half years, being sold as scrap on the 13th July 1964.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 20th Sep 2013 at 09:34.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 09:48
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He flew it back to Tern Hill so that the occasion could sink in.
That's a nice touch, but doesn't car insurance not cover you on the day you pass your driving test, just in case..?! This would be the ideal subject for a micro publisher or a charity wanting to raise a few quid. The common theme seems to be looking across and seeing an empty seat.
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 10:04
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Me too: Kirby Cadet Mk III, winch launch; RAF Catterick; Aug 1966.

Rgds SOS
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Old 20th Sep 2013, 10:22
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First Jet solo, Barkston Heath 1988, was down to the wire. Solo or chop, it was that close and my time was up, it looked very bad for me. My instructor looked at the fuel and said "if you have to go around, take it back to Cranwell, there isn't enough fuel for 2 circuits". Afterwards he jumped in and sat on top of the seat blind without strapping in for the journey back. That was the lowest I ever saw JP fuel gauges.
Sir, thank you for not chopping me, I have turned out alright!!
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