Thursday, February 10, 2011

First Solo!

Preflight complete, an extra long and careful preflight because this time the plane would be taking me up in the air alone. No Scott (CFI) Security Blanket after three takeoffs and landings. The weather was going to be perfect. No wind, cool but not cold, "CAVU to the Moon" as my dad would say. I'd done over 30 take offs and landings since I started "listening to my CFI" on my birthday, so I knew I know how to do it. All I had to do was do it.

Here's the plan. We go out and do three takeoffs and landings. I do all of the radio work and flying. Scott stays quiet and observes. If all goes well, after the third time, he gets out and I do three on my own. If not, we just keep practicing the pattern.

KRHV 101747Z 00000KT 10SM SKC 11/00 A3023

First time around, too high on base again, turned too early. Then on final didn't put in the flaps when I thought I did "ghost flaps" he calls it. Land, backtaxi on 31L, get the flaps lecture. Damn flaps, ok, next time...actually put the flaps IN. Next time, too high again! Another flaps lecture, hand stays on the throttle, don't THINK about flaps with hand on flaps. Put in flaps, hand back on throttle, verify flaps. Third time to high again! Need to square off my base and final turns. But I did better with the flaps. Need to wait just a bit longer before turning base, that will help keep from being too high. "Ready to do this alone?" "Let's do one more." Last time, better.. still turning just a bit too early onto base, but better.

We get permission to taxi to the Instructor Bench, where he gets out of the plane. I do a radio call I will do only once in my life (OK, twice because ground asked me to repeat it).

RHV Ground, Cessna five zero niner three kilo, Student Pilot, at the Instructor Bench. Ready to taxi for first student solo.

Cessna five zero niner three kilo, taxi runway three one right via zulu

Three one right via zulu, five zero niner three kilo.

Here I go... I feel strangely calm. Just taxi up, not too fast. Line up when cleared and take off. On take off the plane definitely moved quicker and had a stronger left turn tendency. UP! we go, just me and 93K. Upwind, noise abate, 500ft AGL turn crosswind, airspeed and track, turn downwind, already at pattern altitude, flatten out turn (no more climb needed), fly downwind leg, about 1/2 mile away from runway, abeam the numbers I'm cleared to land. Reduce power and airspeed, 85knots, first notch of flaps, trim, 65 knots, turn base (too early), airspeed and track, turn final. Know I'm too high... 20 degrees flaps, seems like engine isn't idling.. it is, 30 degrees of flaps. Keep airspeed at 65... round out... stare at end of runway, keep on flying skrch landed! niner three kilo, runway three one right, taxi via yankee each time in the pattern I repeat back the clearance and exit the runway at Delta.

Taxi back to 31R. Wave at Scott and Jeff as I go by the instructor bench. Do it again... Had to extend the downwind a bit. Too high again, but not as high. Full flaps landing... "greased it". Even got off the runway at Charlie! Cleared to taxi via Yankee back to 31R.

Do it again, this time a ground squirrel and two geese cross the runway before I get started. Take off! This time I was at pattern altitude a lot quicker than usual. Extended upwind a bit to account for the other Cessna in the pattern with me. The tower was busy talking to the big airport lawn mower that wanted to close 31R to do some mowing. Tower asked if he minded if they landed two planes before closing the runway... no problem. We both got cleared to land and informed to expect 31L the next time. "No problem" I think. "I'm terminating." but I'm not telling him that until after I land! Extended downwind a bit, but not far enough.. base too early and too high again. Another full flaps landing and I flared too early (?) floated a bit and bounced a bit on landing. Got off on Delta. Niner three kilo terminating

Taxi out of the way, go to ground. Finish after landing checklist. Get clearance to taxi back to Squadron 2. Taxi back... go through the flight in my mind and smile and smile and smile. I did it! I stop the plane, do the securing checklist. Shutdown the plane. Pause to enjoy the moment. OK, time to see if I can push a Cessna 172 into its parking spot on my own. I can :)

Scott comes up after I finish parking the plane and we share a hug... "Did you see that second landing!?!" That was great!! stop for pictures and finish with tie down.

This doesn't really describe how it felt... but maybe this picture does.

Yes, that's me. I did it!

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