Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

my first solo flight

It was the entry you thought would never come, right? At least I was starting to think I'd never get to it. Or I thought by the time I soloed, I'd feel so beaten down by months of flight training I wouldn't have the motivation to write anything happy.

As it turns out... I'm happy.

To update you all, last weekend I took my pre-solo check with another instructor and passed, much to my delight and amazement. It took some weather delays to get it in but it happened. I had an airplane Tuesday, winds would be calm, I went to bed thinking my day was coming. Then I woke up at 4 a.m. to storms. And it stormed all day. And a lot of Wednesday. And the forecast is for this to keep going until next week. I was beside myself, and upset. Wednesday I asked my instructor if we could fly, the ceiling was 3000 with scattered clouds at 1500 feet, he said it was too hard to see contrast and tell where a few scattered clouds are with a big overcast layer like that. damn. Today again things were a little weird... but the 4:00 METAR said there was nothing below 3,500 feet. Winds 6 knots.

I was supposed to take part in the info session for the society of women engineers. There was a presentation, about 40 slides, five were mine. I sent them an e-mail saying something had come up. I feel bad about that... but tomorrow and all weekend we're at a 30% chance of storms, more clouds, more overcast skies. This is all I think about. I hope they understand.

I drove after work to the airport and it was raining. hmmm.

I checked weather, pre-flighted the airplane, checked weather again. The rain was holding off. The clouds were only getting higher. We decided to fly up to Newton, because there was a runway there lined up with the wind.

I flew patterns with instructor S next to me as always, not really thinking about the solo thing until I had a not-so-nice approach. I was distracted by another airplane, forgot to get our power all the way out, and when I realized it late the power change was too much and we bounced off the runway and I just went full power for a go-around. After we climbed I was like, "Okay I KNOW what I did, next time if I realize that late there's power in I won't try to land, I got distracted, I won't do that either..."

He was like, "Relax, it's okay. You did a good go-around. I'd rather see you make a mistake and do a go-around than fly three perfect patterns anyway, proves you can handle issues, that's important." To me something in his voice sounded like, I'm still going to let you solo. I started to really feel good.

Finally after the fifth landing or so he had me do a full stop, taxi to the ramp and drop him off. He got out of the airplane and said, "You'll do great. Just..." and then nothing. "You'll do fine." He was stood there in the shade of an old roundtop hangar that looked abandoned.

I restarted the engine, turned the airplane around and taxied right into something I wish I hadn't. It was paved, but with these huge cracks and grass growing through it, I was like, "Damn. great. my first solo and I forgot to stay on the taxiway." Later S told me it was fine. There wasn't really enough room to turn around otherwise. But at the time I just found a path out and went with it.

The solo flight itself is pretty unexciting... three takeoffs and landings. And for me that's landing number 145, 146, and 147. I was nervous on the first takeoff and felt myself getting sweaty, but then settled into the now automatic tasks of the pattern. Call downwind on the radio and level off at pattern altitude and start a descent abeam the touchdown point. Each time I landed I taxied back to the begining of the runway as instructed, and then looked for S to be running my direction waving his arms yelling that I'd done something insane, but he just stood there. And after the third, I came back and got him and he told me congratulations and seemed more excited than I was. He asked if it felt different, if the airplane flew different, I was like, "Not really man, sorry to disappoint. Everyone warned me it'd feel different but you just don't weigh enough."

But the more I think back on it I am excited, it went really well, I was definitely ready. It was a beautiful evening. Big huge puffy clouds with sunbeams shining through. By the time we got back home it was 8:00 and dark, and we flew over the city and landed at Wichita in the crosswind and I did just fine there too. I'm post-solo now. Same pilot, new chapter.
Tags: flying
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