My First Solo

Harvey Tuck (PPL Student)

It was a crisp morning and I had a lesson booked for circuits as normal, I took off from runway 15 and did 3 or 4 circuits landed and walked in for a cup of tea.


After a few more teas I was offered another lesson with a new instructor - a man who turned out to be a bit of a hero, because he turned out to be the person who sent me solo! although recently Charlotte my usual instructor had allowed me almost complete unassisted control of the aircraft, this felt different, Adrian felt more of an observer he said " you carry on as normal " until now I would occasionally confirm with Charlotte my next move, but I felt this time I needed to be fully in control.

Adrian and I did a couple of circuits, I felt pretty good they seemed to go well ,on the third circuit Adrian said "I think we'll land off this one" I felt as though I could do a few more but we touched down and turned to the left, what came next I will never forget.

We had cleared the runway and I was ready to start after landing checks and commence taxi to the school when Adrian said " right I'm going to get out here and you can do one one your own!" oh my god I thought this is it I'm going to fly solo!! I didn't have too much time to think about, Adrian briefly ran through my next radio call, closed the throttle, opened the canopy and hopped off the wing, I watched him walk to the tower as I closed the canopy and latched it shut, I was on my own!

Just for a moment my mind went blank "what do I do next I thought.." I took a moment to settle down, I felt good I made my radio call " Goodwood information GOLF KILO DELTA HOTEL solo student Request taxi information and radio check for circuits" I was given pressure settings runway number and holding position. Close the throttle, brakes off and I'm underway, taxying to the power check area and then on to my holding point.

"GDH ready for departure", "GDH depart at your discretion" "GDH".

This is it!!, there was only the noise of the engine and my heart beat! Close the throttle, brakes off, feet on the rudder pedals hand on the throttle slight pressure I'm moving, past the holding position I can see the runway markers and numbers on my left, I turn DH to the left, slowly the numbers come into view, they are straight ahead, I open the throttle to full power
the Aeroplane starts to accelerate along the runway.

I fell calmer now, it feels good I'm looking at the end of the runway keeping the plane on the centre line with the rudders, I'm looking at the airspeed 45 knots - 48 - 53, I have already been applying slight back pressure on the stick, 55 knots - 57, a little more pressure on the controls, the feel of the runway vanishes the ground sinks away, I'm in the air, I'm flying.

I'm still feeling calm, concentrated, I'm thinking off my next move, before I know it I'm on the downwind leg, I've made my downwind call completed my pre landing checks, I have a moment, I moment to to take this in, a moment to think, and the thought that came into my head was ' I've got to land this! '.

After a moment pondering this I was back to feeling concentrated, I was thinking of the base leg looking for that perfect point to turn, as soon as roll wings level, reduce the power, 1st stage of flaps, hold for 75 knots trim monitor speed, altitude, heading, it was a good turn, I felt in control, I'm looking for the extended centre line of the runway, it's coming up, I turn to the right, there is a slight crosswind with a bit of adjustment I'm lined up on my final approach.

Carb heat goes cold, full stage of flap aim for those numbers, speed 65 knots looking good, "GDH final to land" , it looks like I'm a little short, bit more power, watch the speed, raise the nose, speed 65 knots, power 1400rpm it's feeling good, keep looking at the numbers, the runway is coming up around my shoulders. Judge that flare point, slight back pressure look at the horizon, hold it on the horizon, hold it, hold it, I felt the ground under my wheels, it was smooth, it was one of my better landings, maybe the kind that gets a round of applause!

I kept the plane on the centre line of the runway, with my right hand on the brake I slowed DH, turned off the runway, as I came to a stop a smile appeared on my face, a smile that I stayed with me all day!! I can't explain how good that felt, it was one of the best days of my life, one that I will remember forever, 2 months later it still makes me smile!