First Solo

In which I head off solo for the first time, discover that I laugh when I’m about to crash and nearly bend the plane.


Drop me off and you can take it around by yourself

I was taken totally by surprise when J said that, I had assumed that the full stop was because it was the end of the mission, it never crossed my mind it could be because of solo!

I made a noise that was sort of a mixture of ‘eep’, ‘argh’ and ‘oh shit’. Suddenly nervous, I taxiied over to the flight school to drop J off.

Before he jumped out he gave me some last minute instructions. I was told that the plane would fly differently without his weight there, so I should anticipate that when flying. Also, particularly in lighter planes like the Jab, I might need to right aileron to compensate for the fact that all the weight (me) was now just on one side. I was told to do one circuit, taking off from 36L and doing a full stop on 36R. He reminded me to secure his door after him, told me to have fun and climbed out.

I was alone in the cockpit of 4964.

I slowly taxiied it to 36 and did all of the usual pre-takeoff checks. When I was doing them I had a sudden moment of “oh my god, what am I doing” but then I reminded myself that I trust J and he clearly thought I could do it, so I could. Then I lined up on 36L and did the takeoff. I think I raised the nose slightly early, but once I had corrected that it leapt off the ground – I was airborne and solo!

On upwind, I really noticed what he said about the fact that all the weight was now on the one side. When I changed to my left hand on the stick to raise the flaps, I tipped a fair bit to the left before righting it.

I turned onto crosswind, only to find myself start singing (badly). I got through the first verse of ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines‘ before I had to stop to make my downwind call.

Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.
They go up, tiddly, up, up.
They go down, tiddly, down, down.
They enchant all the ladies and steal all the scenes
When they’re up, tiddly, up, up
And they’re down, tiddly, down, down.
Up! Down! Flying around.
Looping the loop and defying the ground.
They’re all, frightfully keen
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.

During downwind it started to get a bit turbulent, and I was bouncing around a fair bit. I also ended up a bit high after the turn, I was at 1500ft rather than 1250ft. It didn’t bother me though, I dealt with it pretty easily.

I decided to do a flapped landing, and made the turn onto base. Base was pretty uneventful and I turned onto final.

I ended up a bit high on final and made a half-arsed attempt at a sideslip (didn’t work, but I was heading down to the right height then anyway). My approach wasn’t that stable, for most of final I was to the right of the centreline, although I did manage to correct it by late final. In hindsight I probably should’ve gone around though.

I think I came in slightly fast for my landing and ended up landing on just the right mainwheel (or so it felt) – I was sitting there going “I nearly bent the plane!” :P. I controlled the landing though, and taxiied off the runway. I have discovered, amusingly, that I laugh when I’m about to crash! 🙂

I taxiied back to the school, shut down the plane and filled in the VDO in the folder. J came out while I was doing that and asked me how it was. I told him I nearly bent the plane on landing, he laughed but said it didn’t look so bad from the ground (good to hear) 😛 He took a photo of me with 4964 and we wandered back to the school.

Me with 4964

My logbook now was 0.3 hours of command time entered in it. I now have a total of 29.9 hours, with 29.6 hours dual.

I still can’t believe I’ve gone solo. It felt like a dream when I was flying it, and it still doesn’t feel real now. I know I went solo at the right time, the entire time I was up there I knew what I had to do and when to do it – I felt like I was in control and knew what I was doing.

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to learn to fly and now I’ve flown a plane solo. I am completely stoked 🙂


8 Responses to First Solo

  1. Woo hoo!

    That’s great news. Congrats on your first solo!

    Now I’m officially VERY jealous, not just jealous 🙂 🙂 🙂



  2. Nick says:


    Seeing the conditions out there I had wondered if today might be the day. Very happy for you. Well done!

  3. GraemeK says:

    Co0ngrats Darky – well done!!

  4. Julien says:

    Congrats! Knowing you can do it on your own is an awesome feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

  5. Flyingninja says:

    Big, big bravos all round!! Way to go my friend. Onto navigation next hey?

  6. Darky says:

    Thanks all!

    Julien: absolutely fantastic feeling, I can’t wait to go up solo again. It just felt….right. 🙂

    Ninja: not quite onto navigation! Still not even out of circuits! (lol) Have to get up 3 hours PIC time in circuits before we head out to the training area again apparantly. I don’t mind though, not if I get to do more solo time! 🙂

  7. Corey says:

    Great stuff, may all your landings be greasers.

  8. Zurtri says:

    Well done! You have certainly earned your skills!

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