Something has been on my mind lately. I know it’s coming and I am starting to get a little nervous. I have been doing a good number of take-offs and landings and am a pretty fast learner. Everything I do in my life is before schedule…hopefully this will be too – My first solo.
When I first got the idea to learn how to fly, I kind of thought it would be like driving a car in the sky, and it kind of is. The first few times I flew an airplane, I was nervous and over reacted, over corrected and over compensated. These days, I am pretty casual, but still think my moves need to be delicate.
Imagine flying an airplane by yourself for the very first time. Taxiing to the runway – pulling up and making a radio call – the point of no return, giving the airplane full throttle – taking off and landing.
Since I know this point is bearing down upon me, I decided to see what others thought of their first solo. I found this great piece on the web that I feel captures it pretty well:
I once heard a man speaking and he said that he “got high by flying.” Many of them laughed, but when I heard it I knew it must have been a true high. I was 14 when I first thought about what that man had said and I knew that I may want to someday experience that “high.” My dream came true one day, and it was a day I would never forget.
It was a very warm and sunny day in the swealtering heat of June…lemonade wasn’t pungent enough to expel the dryness from our mouths, yet we carried on. Learning to fly is not an “easy” thing to do; it takes practice and patience. I had become annoyed with myself simply because I was having trouble with landings. For me, landing is the hardest part because you really need to know your stuff.
Well I had done 52 landings that day and I was exhausted. I went to bed thinking that I would not be able to solo the airplane unless I got my act together. The following day was the “Solo Day.” It was the day when pilots were made or dreams shattered. I was hoping I was not in the latter. My instructor and I took off and flew around from airport to airport performing some landings. I knew he was checking up on me and I began to get nervous. I didn’t think he had confidence in me and I wasn’t sure of my own abilities. He told me to land the airplane at the local airport and that he needed something to drink. I figured he meant alcohol so that he wouldn’t have to put up with my flying.
We landed at the airport and I taxied the airplane over to where one would normally park a plane to get out. I pulled up and began to shut the plane off and my instructor asked me what I was doing. Baffled, I told him I was shuting down the airplane. Surely a man of 50,000 hours of flying, knew that I was going to turn the aircraft off. He proceeded to tell me that I wasn’t getting out to get a drink, HE was! He said, “You have some flying to do. You’re ready!”
My heart began to race and the excitement was almost unbearable. I was about to travel alone into the skies with a 180 horsepowered aircraft. As he gave me a nod and shut the door the fear of being alone for the first time began to overcome the excitement. I was afraid that something might go wrong, but I was excited about the challenge I was about to endure.
I started the aircraft down towards the runway and I waited to depart. I couldn’t wait any longer, it was now or never. I was cleared for departure and my heart was racing faster. I had a conversation with myself, but I don’t remember what I said. I rolled the airplane onto the runway, applied full power and began to pull off the runway. “Liftoff” I screamed to myself. I was never more excited. My palms were sweaty and my heart was beating, but I was never happier. I knew from that moment on that the thrill of flying would always be one of my greatest experiences.
I landed safely that day and never forgot the anticipation that I had during the whole week leading up to the solo. The fear, excitement and joy of flying resulted from a week of strenuous training and self-assurance that I was ready, willing, and able to get “high.”
I also found this great blog with all sots of stories and experiences from a student’s perspective. Can’t wait to get down to New York City.