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Tell us the story of your first solo

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Tell us the story of your first solo

Old 4th Oct 2016, 17:09
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South East of Penge
Age: 72
Posts: 1,672
Not a first solo ,but something that instantly helped the penny drop to get me off solo.
I already had some prop and jet solo time when I decided to go on an RAFGSA gliding course in 1974 .
I was making a right pigs of air brake control on finals in a K 13, porpoising merrily down to Terra firma, sometimes yards away from the proper touchdown point. My instructor was Rick Heselwood ,a well known personality. "FFS Haraka!" he said, after the third switchback ride: "Look!" ( cranks airbrakes in and out) "treat it like an effing THROTTLE!!" Problem solved: two launches later, "Off you go".
Thanks Rick (RIP)
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 17:52
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 66
Posts: 3,115
1990 in a K13 at Cosford. I knew it was coming because every first solo flight had a series of three cable breaks, low, intermediate and high before being sent off. My instructor by the way was the late Mick 'Sneaky' Davis. I remember shouting at the top of my lungs 'Yeahhhhhh!!!' when I released the cable, I'm surprised they didn't hear me on the deck. I was floating on air for the next couple of days; utter elation.

Powered was an absolute non event, just something to get out of the way. C172, early evening. Did it, went home. In powered training the big 'Yeahh!' moment for me was finishing the qualifying cross country. That certainly had a nice feel to it.

I last 'flew' with Mick three years ago when I visited Cosford on my way to Kemble and Mick flew with me part of the way in formation in his Christen Eagle. A gifted pilot sadly gone before his time.
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 18:33
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: France
Age: 59
Posts: 41
I first soloed in a K13 with the University gliding club back in 1983, but had to wait a good few years before I had the money to the do the power version so it was a freezing cold January in 1990 when I did my first power solo in a Beagle Pup, what a lovely aircraft that was ! After completing my PPL I went straight onto learning aeros and converted to taildraggers and so the following year I did my first solo in a Pitts special, not strictly a "first" in the true sense but without doubt the most terrifying of the "solo's" and for the first 20 or so landings I wasn't totally sure who was in control me or the plane. However like most who have flown them as the years rolled by I learned to love that little plane.
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 19:51
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Faversham
Posts: 283
152 at Conington 30+ years ago. Went up like a lift, and then the door popped open. Despite that, found my way round circuit and regained earth. Within days, had had RTA and broke everything. Nearly a year later, had to be "signed off" for my second solo. Same aircraft, same airfield and CFI. Same door popped open
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 08:27
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 852
I remember stopping on the way to the hold to open the door and throw up on the taxyway. After that, it all went well. That was 34 years ago. No more chuck-ups.
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 09:34
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tring, UK
Posts: 1,688
1st solo after a half a day of intense winch launching and cable break practice in a K-21 glider. The instructor then pulled up a K-18 single seater (completely different in construction and flying qualities), stuffed me in it and hooked on the cable... I survived and a great experience for a 16yr old.

1st power solo at a very active airfield full of singles, twins, turboprops, jets, helicopters, etc. Tower frequency exceedingly busy, so read backs had degenerated to acknowledgements by the way of the last two letters of your callsign, due to congestion.

Flew a huge circuit, under ATC direction (they were aware I was a 1st solo) as there were about 12 ahead. On short finals, got a “cleared to land”. According to witnesses, there was a late go-around instruction which I didn’t read back due to fixation on the imminent landing. A Jetstream entered the runway to backtrack just as I touched down and all I remember was two propellors getting larger and larger as we rapidly closed on each other. I had severe doubts as to whether I could stop in time and didn’t fancy being chewed up by those props, so firewalled the throttle, pulled back and got airborne again over the other aircraft as the pilot dived off the runway...

Did a rather wobbly second circuit then shut down on the apron. Thought: “well, that’s my aviation career over and done with” but the CFI was very good, especially when he saw my dinner plate eyes and bloodless complexion. A lot of lessons were learned by a lot of people that day!
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 12:49
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: France
Age: 78
Posts: 6,375
early August 1961, not much over 17 years old, Sywell and Les Hilditch climbed out of the J1/N Auster and sent me off. Got baulked in the (non radio) circuit so went round again. Felt brilliant until I found that against instructions my parents had pitched up just as I went of and my Mother turned to another stude (Mike P) and said "Is he going solo, what by himself?" Soloed again later in the year (during Cuban Missile Crisis in a Mk lll at Swanton Morley.

A year later first solo in and RAF Chipmunk, a few months later ditto in a JP. Early 66 first solo in Aunty Betty's fun jet, then later that year ditto in a Canberra (Thanks Robin R). Four years ago I did it all again in a Marianne glider at Niort. That was a good feeling.
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 13:18
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: River Thames & Surrey
Age: 73
Posts: 9,356
After being sent off in the Prefect, I told my dad 'I've just been up in the single seater'.
'What, on your own?' says he!
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 13:22
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: LHBS
Posts: 276
My first solo was a real challenge in many ways.

I had a small incident before, with a too high flare, damaging the main gear.
So I was reluctant to go for the solo and happily kept carrying my instructor with me. He was getting upset with me, he wanted to be down in the clubhouse sipping his tea, or out on some interesting cross-country trip, instead of the boring pattern work. I promised him I would take the pre-solo checkride a few days later. However as we landed after that day's practice in stiff and turbulent winds at my personal max levels, the chief pilot came to us and asked how did we progress. My instructore was quick with the answer: all looks good. The chief pilot didn't waste a minute to ask me what I think, he just said - OK, we do the checkride now.

I was trying to say something, but what can you really say in a situation like this, without making a fool of yourself? So I got back into the cockpit, and off we went. A small notice: we have small hills near the threshold of the runway we used, so the winds were a bit unpredictable. And this was in a trustworthy SF-25 motorglider, in which we turned off the engine for landing, to ensure we don't damage the propeller.

So first checkride approach was too high, the chief pilot was visibly annoyed and asked me to go around. Second approach was OK, we taxied back, got out and off I went alone.

All I remember how well the plane climbed, how nice the view was without the instructor blocking the right side. I was also singing silently a military-style marching song inside. All went well until the last few 10 meters of the final. As I descended towards the runway, the stiff and choppy headwind suddenly calmed down. I retracted the spoilers, but still, I felt that airspeed was lost, control became mushy. Glanced at the speed, it was closer to the stall speed than where is should have been. But my height was no longer sufficient to ensure successful engine restart.

At that point I decided that I would rather land short of the runway, maybe in the bushes, than killing myself by stalling out. So I pushed the nose down, went down to ground level, rounded out, and then elegantly floated over the threshold in ground effect and immediately touched down. With a dry throat, all I could say on the radio "this was almost short". I was expecting that we abort the solo flying, go to the clubhouse and analyze what happened.

Then the strict voice of the chief pilot came over the radio with a determined command of "CONTINUE.". That's all he said! What can you say in that situation without making a fool of yourself?
So I continued with a takeoff and made a fairly good landing for second and third time.

Later on I asked the chief pilot: - Didn't you see that I barely reached the threshold? Weren't you concerned??? I hardly believed my ears when you said "continue".....

He said: - Yes, I saw that. But I also saw you did the right actions. And in the end, you made a smooth landing on the runway. That's all what matters.
He also turned to my instructor: He is OK to do the remaining solo circuits, but only in the normal sized circuit. He shouldn't do short finals yet.

They were tough guys with a lot of trust and motivation towards their student pilots. It was a very memorable day. No other (new type, or night) solos had the same effect on me.
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 14:19
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 26,128
First solo was in an RAFGSA T21 at Merryfield whilst the aerodrome was still on care and maintenance. On each launch, the cable back-released, much to my surprise. I floated rather a long way on the first landing sans instructor, but the other 2 were fine. They found out the reason for the back releases - the Ottfur was loose and had come away slightly at the front...

First power solo was a bit different. Brand new Cessna 150 at the Bedfordshire Flying Centre, Cranfield on an RAF Scholarship. On the runway in use, there were some 'slush pits' - shallow rubber-rimmed trays filled with water which were being used as part of a runway performance experiment being conducted following the Munich air disaster 10 years earlier.

"Don't worry if you think you'll encounter the pits", said my instructor, "They won't affect anything and it'll be quite safe"...

Anyway, off for my first solo circuit and all went well until the final part of the approach. I was a bit fast and slightly high, so throttled back and then realised that I hadn't selected 40° flap - I then did so and as a result the aircraft dropped rather rapidly into the slush pits and bounced. So I did what I'd been told and went round - all went fine the next time.

My rather tetchy instructor then accused me of having deliberately landed in the pits as all he'd seen was a cloud of spray from which had emerged a Cessna. But with only 6½ hrs of powered flying to my name, I wasn't actually capable of judging my touchdown point with any accuracy at the time, so explained what had happened but of course he had to have known better....

We weren't taught 'point and power' back then - but it is a much, much better way of ensuring that student pilots touch down in the right place!
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 21:01
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Scotland or LED / ULLI
Posts: 2
My first solo was completely unexpected, as my FI was restricted and was unable to send me on my first solo.
My regular instructor was off, and I was flying with a new FI I’d never met before. I had assumed, wrongly that only your regular instructor would be able to send you off, a point reinforced as I was booked in to fly with the CFI later in the week to assess if I were ready. So without feeling any pressure, I relaxed and off we went. 40 minutes and 5 circuits later I thought we were finished up for the day. Taxied back to the ramp, and to my astonishment, instead of going through the shutdown checks my instructor said “well you don’t need me anymore” promptly informed ATC then cheerfully hopped out and left me to it. I watched him walk away, and he never looked back.

I made my only mistake a minute or so later when I forgot to use the ‘student’ callsign when calling for Taxi. ATC made me aware of this, and I sheepishly ensured to use it for all of my calls.

Power checks were fine, although extra looks at the windsock verified conditions had not changed much so off I went. Before taking off another great discovery was how cool it was being able to chuck my charts and checklists on the empty right seat.When the wheels lifted off the ground, that is when it hit me. I am flying an aircraft, and I am on my bloody own! Nobody to help me now...after passing 300 feet, all the thoughts and apprehension stopped as some internal autopilot took over. Flaps up, and I went straight into the routine of the circuit doing everything as I had been taught to and that was that.

The landing was fine, and needless to say that I was very pleased with myself Now I am older and wiser I am positive that I bored my friends and colleagues with endless details of the flight!

As other posters have commented, I too was amazed to see how quickly the aircraft climbed when I was on my own!
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 21:43
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: The Wild West (UK)
Age: 43
Posts: 1,148
I never had a first solo, because I started with hang-gliding. First lesson involved running down a hill. As you gained in confidence you started progressively higher. As you ran down your steps became longer and longer until you reached the bottom and slowed down. After a few lessons you were unequivocally flying - able to do S-turns on the way down - but I don't recall any distinctive event that could be termed a 'first solo'.

There have been 'firsts' such as first flight from a high hill, first cliff launch, first winch, first powered solo, first solo in a single-seater aircraft. Fond memories all, but perhaps only the cliff launch really stands out as an event. Have I missed out somewhere?

Last edited by abgd; 5th Oct 2016 at 23:41.
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Old 5th Oct 2016, 23:17
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 66
Posts: 3,115
First lesson involved running down a hill.
Tea down nose moment there!
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Old 6th Oct 2016, 21:59
  #34 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 1,444
Humberside 1998. Sent solo when the circuit was quiet only to find a commercial jet on final approach so I was told to extend the downwind. But the time I'd turned onto base I could barely see the runway. All worked out OK in the end. Now flying 777s.
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Old 7th Oct 2016, 18:18
  #35 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: UK
Posts: 3,326
A summer evening in 1978 and I'd just finished a spinning detail in the C150 (flick entry with Tom - sharply up, over on its back, into the spin). Back at the field (after Tom had made a point of visually checking the fin was still straight - his little joke!) I was just tidying the cockpit before going home when Tom reappeared. "My next student has cancelled. You in any hurry to go home?".

So off we went into the circuit. After two Tom said "taxy to the tower". Mystified, I did. Tom got out, stowed his straps and said "off you go then. Do one on your own". I couldn't believe it - I only had about 10 hours and thought I had some way to go to solo. Tom obviously though different.

Lined up at the end of 27 I remember thinking "once I take off, I have to get this down entirely on my own". I pressed in the throttle and as soon as I was in the air I felt incredibly relaxed. All fears had vanished.

The landing was fine, and I drove home at a metaphoric 60,000 feet. I didn't come down until the next day.... When it was 'circuit consolidation' with Leo!

First solo is amazing - far more significant, I think, than the successful GFT flight that followed a few months later. First time ever being in sole charge of an aeroplane - can't be beaten!
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Old 8th Oct 2016, 07:58
  #36 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Essex
Posts: 99
It was 1971 in a Rollason Condor. About 8hours logged. I seem to remember concentrating more than anything else on getting my radio calls right ! One landing, no one waiting, I walked back to the club house where my jnstructor said "Well done, fancy a cup of tea?"
He then delivered me the tea and immediately went off to fly with another student. I remember sitting there on my own drinking my tea thinking that it was a bit of a non event. It was only when driving home that I replayed every moment in my head and thought, well everyone says it's an achievment so, I guess it must be. To this day I think it must have been some sort of overload reaction!
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 07:00
  #37 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: U.K.
Posts: 166
I remember some disbelief after the wheels leaving the ground, and lots of talking to myself. I couldn't believe I was actually doing it.

Nailed a really nice landing, and two words came over the radio "nice landing" and that was it !


After being told I had passed my test I was completely emotionally numb, I have never experienced anything else like it, ever. It's indescribable. I was like a zombie until half way into a 40 minute drive home and then it hit me. I was suddenly crying uncontrollable and laughing at the same time. Talking to myself saying "this is ridiculous", laughing out loud with tears rolling down my face. It took me about 5 minutes to return back to normal.
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Old 11th Oct 2016, 22:26
  #38 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 369
I remember mine like it was half an hour ago, Saturday 20 November 2004. Perfect day, cavok, quiet circuit. I kept hearing my instructors voice in my headset and realized on late downwind that I was talking to myself. ATC congratulated me on landing after I flew 3 passable circuits.

My wife says I had a dopey grin on my face for a month afterwards.
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Old 17th Oct 2016, 09:55
  #39 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Norway
Posts: 3
Hi, fairly new here. Just soloed in a 172P on 6. of October. I actually had the opportunity a week prior to this, but the sun was getting low, and I was tired after 13 circuits, so I decided not to. When the big day came, we did some circuits first before the instructor left the plane and told me to do 3 stop and go's. The weather was perfect: A high pressure system had been lingering over the country for a week or two, no significant winds and plenty of lift. I was anxious on my way to the airfield that day, but everything felt just right when the instructor left the plane, and continued to feel just fantastic all the way thru the first circuit. I kept looking at that empty right seat beside me and out the right window, it was a special experience. I did 3 nice landings (at last that's what I thought, and the instructor too), but didn't really land quite for some days.

Last edited by lars667; 17th Oct 2016 at 12:53. Reason: Embed video
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Old 19th Apr 2017, 13:09
  #40 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Oxfordshire
Posts: 2
Two first solos

My first was at RAF Wyton, I was a member of the UAS in 2003 and I did my first solo in a Grob Tutor after about 10hrs or so. Pretty uneventful flight but I did find myself high and fast on the downwind which I was able to correct before turning final. The circuit pattern was different to civvie circuits and we flew a continuous decening semi-circle from 800ft to 400ft, 80kts, then landed 'firmly' (oops!) on the massive (V bomber sized) runway and job done. Squadron tradition dictated I then got a bucket of water thrown over me followed by some bar antics that I was too drunk to remember most of. I left the squadron in 2004 when I finished uni and haven't been back in a light aircraft since, until ~2 weeks ago. Bloody good memories of that place; just a shame the hours available to UAS students have since been chopped significantly.

Second first solo was today, 13 years later at Oxford Kiddlington (EGTK) in a PA-28-140. Had a check flight with the boss then went round for a circuit on my own. Departure was fine and I called downwind as usual but ATC authorised a jet on to the RW as I was turning for final approach so I went around at ~1000ft QNH for another lap. Forgot to reset my carb heat but spotted it on my downwind checks. Called downwind again, really early this time, and ATC replied with call final, then they cleared a twin engine Turbo prop to take off as I was still a few minutes away. This guy was slow to go and he was still stationary on the RW as I turned left base. As I was about to make my final turn he started rolling and I was just about to call my second go-around but ATC cleared me to land before I could hit the Tx button. I accepted the clearance but in hindsight I probably should have gone round again as seeing the aircraft on the RW distracted me and I overflew the centre line by some way. Brought it back on centre and landed, albeit with a bit of a float as I was about 5-10kts too fast, and left of centre, but I got it down gently and job done. Bit eventful, but good to get the experience under my belt :-) ATC called on my return Taxi to congratulate my first solo and to apologise for the go around which was nice.

PS - Forgot to pull my flaps up too. Only realised when I parked up... Oops! :-/
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