Hello dear reader, I have wonderful news!
On Sunday I flew my first solo; I was a pilot for the first time.
Three things and quite a few lessons launched me out of short final gloom and into the joy of the solo circuit.
- Booster cushions – it’s so much easier to fly now that I can see the nose of the aeroplane; I have a reference point.
- Flying lesson with the instruments covered up – this was such a revelation! I actually fly better if I trust my senses first and then check the instruments second.
- A decent run of magnificent flying weather – yay!
Solo Sunday started early in a very foggy paddock with the girls trying to jump start an aeroplane. Then it was Tweety’s turn to pre- flight and away we went.
I was so pumped to fly that morning. We’d had a wonderful weekend of flying and on that day we were doing more circuit emergencies. After several glide approach circuits, my instructor suggested we make the next circuit a full stop, and after an uneventful landing we taxied to the cross-strip where she asked me if I would like to go ‘round by myself.
My heart skipped a beat and I answered nervously ‘Yes, I think I can do that’. I felt ready and I knew she wouldn’t send me solo if she wasn’t confident to do so. She sealed the deal by saying that it had been all me when we’d been flying our lessons on the weekend. So, I figured I just needed to keep doing exactly what I’d been doing.
Alex passed on final precious words of instruction and encouragement reminding me of the difference one less person in the aircraft would make and that I could go around if necessary and that she would be waiting at the windsock with the radio. A final check, a smile and a wave and she stepped out.
And just like that, there we were – me and a little yellow aeroplane called Tweety in the middle of a runway in a paddock at Jasper’s Brush on a clear Sunday morning about to launch into the sky and soar like a bird with just me at the controls.
Who would’ve thought it……?
Tweety and I taxied to the end of runway 24 and turned our faces into the wind. I said a quiet prayer and cast my gaze over the instruments and switches. All was in order. A deep breath; a rolling call for circuits; full throttle; right rudder and we were off……. Wooooohoooo, I love that take-off feeling!
Tweety rolled out happily and rather quickly – we were at 60 knots before I knew it! I turned to comment to Alex about this, and then remembered that she wasn’t there. The space next to me seemed huge and strange in its emptiness and I thought best not to dwell on it!
We hit 1000ft before the downwind turn, we were hootin’! As the parallel runway came into view, it was all so familiar. Downwind checks, radio call, turn onto base, establish on final, approach looking good, over the fence and a surprising little bounce on landing. I think I flew on autopilot; not quite believing I was doing it. I taxied off the runway to smiles and congratulations.
My first solo circuit was over so quickly!
One and half years since my first flight, after pushing past many obstacles, knowing absolutely nothing about aviation or aerodynamics, I’ve finally achieved my goal to fly solo. It has been a major accomplishment for me challenging me at every level, taking me to extreme highs and lows. Learning to fly has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
None of this is achieved alone. Without my instructors this dream would not have been realised. They are a thoroughly passionate team dedicated to helping people achieve their aviation dreams and goals. They have encouraged, inspired, motivated and persisted in believing in me – to Alex, Liz and Andy, thank you so very much.
And to my dearest, gorgeous Gregory John – what can I say? Without you, I would never have embarked on this dream. Thank you for taking me on this crazy adventure with you. There go we; by the grace of God. And the adventure has only just begun.