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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

first solo

And so my First Solo Certificate from RACWA finally arrived in the mail! The first person I showed it to was my mom and she was all proud and stuff.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. Dean the senior flight instructor says to me...

"when I give you the thumbs up, you go! Oh yeah and now that there is only one person on the plane it's going to be a lot lighter and biased to the left side so you might cut in a little bit on finals..."

What? Why is he only just telling me now?

"but most importantly, have fun!"

...and then he steps out of the cockpit, gives the airplane one quick final check and he gives me the thumbs up. At that moment my heart starts racing faster than an episode of Gilmore girls. I can't believe I'm finally doing it.

My first solo.

I finish doing my checks and taxi to the circuit runway. I make my radio call.

"Jandakot tower, romeo whiskey yankee, ready runway 24L, first solo circuit, received charlie."

"romeo whiskey yankee, line up and cleared for takeoff"

"lining up and cleared for takeoff, romeo whiskey yankee"

Okay have to focus now. I line up the 152 on the threshhold. Full power. 55knots. Rotate. Climb out at 75 knots. Tees and pees in the green. Flaps identified and up. Maintain center line. Clear right, center, left. 500ft climbing turn onto crosswind. Level off at 1000. Clear right, center, left. I'm on downwind now.

And by now all my nerves went out the window. I take a moment to look at the ground. I'm 1,000 feet up in the air. I didn't realise how quiet it would be. Apart from the hum of the propeller blades (which were mostly blocked out by my headphones) it was actually more quiet than a Charlie Sheen stand up comedy gig held in a public library. Only 2 planes in the circuit. I do my radio call.

"romeo whiskey yankee, downwind, full stop landing"

"romeo whiskey yankee, follow cessna on late downwind"

"romeo whiskey yankee"

I proceed to do my checks.

Brakes off. Heels down. Undercarriage down. Mixture rich. Fuel on and sufficient. Hatches and harnesses secure.

Before I knew it it was time to turn onto base. Clearing right, center left. As I turned I saw the sun break through the clouds and I could see the Bankwest tower glimmering in the afternoon light. I set up the aircraft to land.

I powered down the throttle. Carb heat on. White arc. Flaps. 65knots. I look back towards the runway and I see the Cessna touching down. I knew I would be next. I then turn onto final.

500feet. Carb heat cold. Flaps set to full. 60 knots.

"romeo whiskey yankee, cleared to land"

"cleared to land, romeo whiskey yankee"

This was it. The final stretch. The home run. The el Alamo. As I descended over the piano keys I rounded out perfectly. The main wheels touched down first followed smoothly by the nose wheel.

It was the best landing I had ever done.

Then at that point the nerves took over me again. I was shaking so much I couldn't even grip the yoke. I looked outside the window and thanked god for getting me through it.

"romeo whiskey yankee, congratulations on your first solo."


  1. This makes me want to fly.. or rather read about you flying more...thanks for the vivid description..

  2. "romeo whiskey yankee"???
    Is that your pilot name??? ;-P
    Wouwwwww... has to be amazing flying for the first time alone! What a bag of nerves!.. it makes me shudder! hahaha.. what a feeling!
    Thanks for sharing your experience! :-)