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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 3rd Oct 2016, 07:52
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Join Date: Oct 2016
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Tell us the story of your first solo

I'm sure this thread has been done before but I always enjoy hearing about people's first solo experience! Tell us what yours was like, or even better post a video if you have it.
My first solo was earlier this year (I just completed my license a few weeks ago!)
I had been waiting a while for weather to clear up. I knew I was ready for my solo, I didn't get the surprise a lot of people get when the instructor all of a sudden jumps out and sends them off solo. My instructor kinda had to give it away because we needed the crosswind to be less than 10 knots etc for my next lesson, kinda obvious what was going to happen.
So I finally got an afternoon that was good, did a few circuits with the instructor then off I went. It was just before sunset and the air was cool with about 5knots of wind. I climbed quite a bit faster than my normal VY and still had an impressive rate of climb.. I had been told it would be like that but it still felt like I was pitching up too much!! I got to downwind and looked around after doing my checks and that was the moment it clicked.. I looked at that empty seat and thought "holy [email protected]$t! I'm flying a bloody plane!"
I came in a bit high and fast, did the usual trick of landing on the left, but all went well. Such a vivid memory and something I'll cherish forever.
Here's the video, note my lack of right rudder on takeoff and landing haha. Also when the instructor got out I was so keen to get going I nearly started taxiing without calling ground :/ oops!

Last edited by Parkway; 6th Oct 2016 at 07:01.
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 10:43
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The very first time I took to the air in an aerial machine on my own was actually an accident! On a barmy day in July 1960 on the playing fields of a well known Grammar School close to Bomber Command Headquarters I was catapulted into the atmosphere in the school single seat glider. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending which way you look at it, the supervisor had omitted to fit the lift spoilers to the wing. Hence, rather unexpectedly, my primitive craft and I soared to the dizzy height of five feet, landing shortly afterwards on the First X1 cricket pitch, in the middle of an important match. Suffice to say, this did little to impress the team and the sight of a very young Bluntie being chased off the playing field by a horde of irate six formers waving cricket bats was a sight to behold. I can remember that auspicious event as if it were yesterday. However, it would be several years later before I ascended the heavens again, this time in one of Her Majesties finest Jet Provosts.
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 11:58
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I went up like a lift and sang all the way around the circuit and wondered why I previously failed to attain the standard in one of her Majestys Bulldogs!
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 12:35
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30 years ago yesterday, in a Blanik. Last flight of the day. All I remember is the ghost behind me, going 'keep it straight, keep it straight'. And afterwards, commenting on how all the street lights looked rather pretty in the nearby village.
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 12:58
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25 years ago for me aged 17. 6 hrs 40 mins into an RAF Flying Scholarship at CATS, Liverpool Airport in a Cessna 150. Unbelievably amazing experience which I still remember clearly to this day and which was over far too quickly! Thought it bizarre that I could fly a plane by myself before I'd passed my driving test and was able to drive on my own!
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 13:34
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Join Date: Aug 2016
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30th April this year, East Midlands Airport, Cessna 152, G-BGGO

After many lessons where my instructor had wanted to send me solo but was thwarted due to weather / circuits not being available due to high traffic at EGNX the day finally came.

Bit of a feisty crosswind - 8-10kts - but the pre-solo circuits on the day were fine.

So, I went up on my own... was surprised how quickly a 152 could actually climb with only one person in it! Round I went, before being asked to orbit at the end of downwind.

The approach was alright, but then I had a brain fart with the crosswind on landing and put it down a little bit sideways. Hated that landing and made it my job to learn how to deal with crosswinds from that moment on.

Passed the skills test at the end of August
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 15:26
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First powered solo ( I already had about 40 hours gliding in my log book) was at Cambridge in C150s. One November afternoon, I was on my 3rd or 4th trip of the day so I lined up, advanced the throttle and as we gathered speed eased it off the ground.
My instructor immediately said 'pity it's just about to get dark otherwise after that takeoff, I'd send you solo now; never mind we'll do it first thing tomorrow'.
And we did! None of this 'instructor jumping out with no warning and saying fly one circuit' etc, I knew in advance!
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 15:54
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Was taken completely by surprise on a balmy Friday evening when instructor hopped out and said off you go....

Was learning at an international airport though and ATC kept me at the hold for a full 20 mins before letting me go so that they knew they had a decent gap to get me around. Developed a bit of an uncontrollable leg shake in that long wait......
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 17:46
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I have been lucky enough to have been sent first solo twice;

My flying club at the time bought the very first Cessna 152 which was imported to Canada. It sat out front for a couple of weeks, while import paperwork was completed. Everyone wanted to fly this new version of the venerable 150. I went for my lesson on a miserable rainy, gusty day. I asked my instructor if we could fly the new 152 (I figured how can it hurt to ask?). He was the senior instructor there, so I had a better chance with him of getting the 152. "Sure, why not...". I was delighted.

I flew my hour of circuits, as the weather became even less welcoming. He directed me to stop, and as he hopped out, he sternly looked at me and said: "Take it for one circuit.". By coincidence, my mum was in the club house that day, and told me later that the Chief Flying Instructor told off my instructor for sending me solo in their brand new pride of the fleet. The plane had 33 hours total time since new then. The club sold it decades later with 14,500 hours on it, and it still flies privately today.

I also was sent first solo in the helicopter, though that was much more a preplanned event. I think I like the surprise way better!
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 21:51
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My first solo was quite memorable. It had taken me longer to solo than I thought it should and I was getting quite depressed about it. At the time I was still splitting my time between the US and Europe, and was about to go back to Europe for quite a while. So I figured if I didn't solo before I went back, I'd just drop the whole idea.

We did a couple of patterns at Hayward - which is a tricky airport because it is so close to Oakland. Pattern altitude is 600 feet and it feels like you can read all the little instructions - "no step" and so on - on the 737s and 320s flying over your head. It handles a mix of traffic, normal light GA, lots of bizjets, and also it's the base for a lot of the ENG, law enforcement and so on helis in the area.

Then my instructor said "OK, you can solo, but only one time round" - it was very close to sunset. So off I went.

As I was close to touchdown, tower came on and said "make this a go around, jet on short final behind you". But I'd been told to do only one pattern! So I used the "u" word for the first time ever. As I turned off the runway, I saw the bizjet within feet of touchdown. Tower called and said "thanks for the quick exit."

When I got back to my instructor he was a nervous wreck - he was the nervous type. He'd of course heard and seen the whole thing.

Compared to that, I don't even remember my first heli solo.
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 21:53
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Three times really for me, first was a glider with the Air Cadets, the good old Kirby Cadet mk111, one circuit was all you got anyway with a winch launch and the glide ratio. Next was a C150 at Bournemouth, in those days you had to have an actual Student pilot licence to go solo and I had to wait until mine came from the CAA! Landed to find the instructor with an arm full of mushrooms that he had been picking while I went round the circuit, don't think they would allow that at BOH these days! Last was Helicopters with HMRN, that was the only time I really noticed the empty seat beside me!
There have been other "first solos" like first tailwheel, and in many ways I did three SEP first solos as I had done the C150, then in the RN at grading you got "first solo" in the Chippie if you were good enough, then of course they considered your first Bulldog solo as a "first solo" as well!
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 22:40
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I went solo on the 24th September, 1977. It was a calm evening and I was winch launched in a K18 at Dunstable. By comparison with the K13 (that were for too valuable to break), it was a sports car and it didn't want to come down. It was a great thing to fly and had a lovely smell. But I do remember thinking when I got out - what do I do now? My other solos, if you want to call them that, were just flights without instructors.

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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 22:46
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The actual date I can't remember without looking at my logbook but it remains in mind for two reasons, which will become apparent. Either way, I took off in a C172R, climbed through cross wind and turned downwind, was thrilled to be in the air on my own whilst feeling a little trepidation about needing to land on my own when my musings were interrupted by another aircraft calling downwind.

Hang on, that's where I am, I think and start suddenly searching the circuit for the other aircraft. There he is, I spot him just ahead of me only for my heart to sink - it's an Ultralight. Not that I have anything against ULs, except for the fact that I'm now going to have to slow myself down - I flew downwind, base and final somewhere around 60 knots, hoping the number one wouldn't dawdle on the runway - which he fortunately didn't.

I touched down, was pleased with my landing when my instructor came over the radio and told me to accelerate and do another circuit. So I shoved the throttle full forward and yes, you can guess what happens. I'm still rolling at around 50knots, the plane quickly accelerates to 55 knots and lurches skywards just as I realise I've made a mistake. A touch and go is always flaps first, gas second. Needless to say, I will never make that mistake again

Just as this realisation dawned on me, I inexplicably compound my mistake by retracting the flaps from 30 to 20, leaving me wrestling a Cessna which is around 10 - 15 feet off the ground, with the stall warning horn screaming and my instructor watching on the ground in disbelief, wondering whether he should cross his fingers and say a prayer for me or go and sound the alarm to get assistance to me quickly after the inevitable crash came. However I was extremely lucky, I pushed the nose down, managed to keep the aircraft flying until the airspeed increased whereupon I could climb above the trees at the end of the runway......

That was my first solo and, as you can guess, the lessons I learnt on it were more memorable than the actual flight itself......
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Old 3rd Oct 2016, 23:30
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My first solo was 53 years ago today, 3 October 1963, in Tiger Moth T8191 at Plymouth Roborough airfield whilst a 19 year old Naval Air Cadet at Britannia Royal Naval College. Seems like just a few days ago - very vivid memories still!
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 08:22
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Join Date: Aug 1999
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First solo 51 years ago in an Ercoupe out of Stapleford Tawney. Summer holidays between 1st & 2nd year 6th, couldn't wait to ring Dad; but he was asleep before night shift and Mum wouldn't wake him!

Another first solo a few years later at Dartmouth, like Democritus but in a Chippie, and later still a helicopter first solo at Predannack in the Hiller 12E. How time flies when you're having fun!
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 09:21
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I seem to have done 4 "first" solos. At least they all had that magic feeling that the genuine first one gave me. That was as an ATC cadet in the wonderful Mk III at St Athan. About 8 years later I took up gliding at Dunstable and was sent solo in a Prefect. The first power solo came in 1967 in a beautiful Tiger Moth at Old Sarum, in the good old days when it was an RAF station and you could always land into wind.

I stopped flying for 23 years and started again in 1997 at Bournemouth. Because I never thought I would ever fly as PIC again, the first solo in a C152 was absolute magic as has every one of the hundreds of flights I have done since.
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 11:34
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June 19th 2013, Gillespie Field, San Diego, C152, N757CD

The most calm, clear California day you could imagine, 3 circuits with the instructor and back to parking. Off he goes and it's my turn to start up/taxi on my own for 1 circuit with full stop landing.

Instructor did actually give me a heads up about the vastly increased climb performance but I still remember being surprised at the magnitude of the improvement.

Managed to make a perfectly stable approach, bang on speed and came down right over the numbers but started to flare too high, instinctively pushed the nose down again, picked up some speed as a result, and then flared again at a more suitable height but floated for what seemed like forever with the extra speed before touching down with a fair old thud.

Absolutely dripping with sweat by the end of it but a great feeling. And it didn't matter about the perspiration as I subsequently had a large bucket of icy-cold water thrown over me, as was protocol at the school in question.
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 11:47
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My first solo was earlier in the year, after 3 circuits and taxi back my instructor told me to wait before we got back to the parking. He radio'd (?) to say there was a change of detail for one circuit. Told me to do one with a full stop on my own. I barely had time to think about what was going on. Out he hopped and off I went.

I had exactly the same thought downwind as a previous poster, "Christ, I'm flying!"... The landing was ok, if a bit firm (even now my landings tend to be firm, a niggle I need to iron out) and the smile lasted for about a week! Finished my PPL the beginning of August.
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 17:35
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First solo? Aged 16 in a winch launched glider. Had a cable break at 400ft...

I'd been briefed: "under 300' land straight ahead, over 700ft complete a shorter than usual circuit."

Hm...

Decided to do a really short and really low circuit and it was fine. My instructor was having kittens apparently and with reason.

My first solo took less than 2 minutes!
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Old 4th Oct 2016, 17:45
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Join Date: May 2010
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My first solo was in a Slingsby Sedburgh somewhere around 1960 as an ATC cadet at RAF Weston Super Mare. Memories are vague but ISTR getting an AB certificate after a few more circuits, feeling rather chuffed but disapointed because this was the end of my gliding.
Fast forward to a stinking hot summer afternoon in Johannesburg in 1974, on my 3rd circuit of the day at Lanseria the instructor said make this one a full stop then opened his door and said the density altitude is getting too high for 2 in a 150 just do 3 more on your own and we'll call it a day.
Then he shut the door and walked off - just like that. So I did. No dramas, no warning, just do it.
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