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View Full Version : Remember your first solo?


bubblemonkey
12-11-2006, 04:54 PM
Well, today was finally the big day for me. I just did three touch and gos in the pattern, but I was really nervous and sweating bullets. After the first takeoff, I became more relaxed. Everything went great.

What are your memories of your first solo? Scared, happy, didn't care? Share it with us.


Slice
12-11-2006, 05:00 PM
I was excited. Half way through my patterns the tower turned the airport around on me...that scared me because I wasn't sure how they wanted me to re-enter the new downwind. Didn't get violated(or my CFI) so I guess it went ok.

calcapt
12-11-2006, 05:37 PM
When my instructor stepped out of the airplane unexpectedly and told me to go play in the pattern I thought he was nuts. My hands were shaking as I taxied out. I was amazed at how much better the airplane performed with just one person. After my first solo landing I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will never forget that day. I occasionally fly over the airport I soloed at in my Boeing and smile as I remember how exciting those times were. I must admit though, I still smile and get excited at a smooth landing or a beautiful sunrise. I'm just crazy that way.


Illini
12-11-2006, 06:07 PM
I couldn't stop smiling as I did my three circuits around the track. Now, when I did my first solo in the Arrow, that was scary because they told me to extend my downwind. I got sidetracked and pulled the MP below 14'' base to final without the gear down. Stupid me...that was an easy fix

AVIVIII
12-11-2006, 06:22 PM
My first solo was a nightmare. I was my instructors first student and she was scared out of her mind to let me go. Finally I talked her into it and off I went. First trip around the pattern, I was turning base when I saw this flash of white and green right in front of me. Then his first call was "BeechJet 1JP inbound, now turning final 35" then "oh yeah heres our fuel order." In between breaths you could hear my flight instructor screaming over her handheld certain words that make you glad it was just a handheld. I landed behind him no worries. Pattern #2, no worries, pattern #3, just as im short final (150 AGL) for 35 a flight of 3 ultra-lights take off intersection 17 and are comming right at me. Now the problem was that they climb like a bastard, but don't go forward any faster than a fast walk. They were all around me and I did my best not to hit them. I couldn't understand why my flight instructor was so mad, I mean seriously, a 15 hour student manuvering at a low altitude at a low airspeed, what could possibly go wrong???

fedupbusdriver
12-11-2006, 06:26 PM
My first solo was 24 yrs ago in Memphis. Left KMEM with the instructor for Olive Branch airport. When I dropped of the instructor he told me that we were running late on time, and if it was looking like I would land long, that it would be quicker to go around instead of taxiing back for another t/o. Sure enough, on the first approach I went around, and my mother gouged a deep wound into my father's arm yelling, HE CAN'T LAND!!! OH MY GOD, HE'S GOING TO DIE.!!!
I just love to get them all wound up.:D

Speedbird172
12-11-2006, 06:30 PM
Hah some good stories. I was pretty damn nervous when my CFI got out and set my signed logbook into the right seat. But man, what a feeling once I got up! Now that I'm instructing its cool to see some of the students have that same feeling. I think I was just as nervous too when I signed off my first solo student.....

ToiletDuck
12-11-2006, 07:41 PM
I remember rotating and as the plane rotated so did the smile on my face with it. Then I realized the only way I was getting down was if I did it myself. I dunno what you guys all did but I sang Frank Sinatra "Fly Me to the Moon".

Pilotpip
12-11-2006, 08:22 PM
I had an inexperienced instructor who's last words were, "don't die becuase I'll loose my certificate." It was late in the afternoon and our airport had a ton of jet traffic coming in. Second and third time around I got extended out over the old Busch Stadium (three miles from the airport). I had NEVER been extended that long on downwind and didn't at that point know that I could fly faster than the speeds that I was supposed to fly on base and final so I was 2 miles out, dragging along at about 65kts.

Still one of my favorite moments in the plane!

btwissel
12-12-2006, 06:41 AM
we landed and taxied off. my instructor hopped out, said "3 laps and don't break anything," and started walking to the FBO.

was amazed how much better a 150 flew without all that deadweight :)

multipilot
12-12-2006, 07:30 AM
After 12 hours of training and waiting on good enough weather i finally soloed. I dropped my instructor off at the tower (the tower controllers let instructors go up and nervously watch as their students progressively lower the field elevation) and taxied to the runway. My first takeoff was probably the most memorable. After getting about 200 - 300 feet in the air, the passenger door opens and starts flapping up against the fuselage. After my "oh $h!t" reaction, I reached over and slammed the door shut. After I nervously completed my first lap in the pattern with a decent landing I gained some confidence and completed the other two laps. I remember asking tower to ask my instructor if I could keep soloing in the pattern after I finished my required 3 landings. Unfortunately, my instructor told me to come back in. That was all nearly 5 years ago.

pilot_man
12-12-2006, 08:01 AM
After loads of wx, bush, and mx delays this guy ^ (Multipilot) finally let me solo. We went out and did a few early morning crash and go's and He said lets go back in. I dropped him off at the tower and he told me do 3 laps and dont do anything to make me lose my certificate. LOL. At first when I taxiied out I was a bit nervous but after that I was happy and it was like nothing. Did my 3 laps like there was nothing to it. When I got back, I got the famous "solo bucket" full of water, (5 Gal) Poured all over me and had to rush to class.

tomgoodman
12-12-2006, 09:25 AM
When I got back, I got the famous "solo bucket" full of water, (5 Gal) Poured all over me...

We were each thrown into a rusty cow tank full of green, slimy water. (T-41 solo, Big Spring TX, 1971)

pilot_man
12-12-2006, 09:34 AM
Nice!!!!!!

CRJ-200
12-12-2006, 10:16 AM
When my instructor stepped out of the airplane unexpectedly and told me to go play in the pattern I thought he was nuts. My hands were shaking as I taxied out. I was amazed at how much better the airplane performed with just one person. After my first solo landing I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will never forget that day. I occasionally fly over the airport I soloed at in my Boeing and smile as I remember how exciting those times were. I must admit though, I still smile and get excited at a smooth landing or a beautiful sunrise. I'm just crazy that way.

We need more people like you - a captain for a major airline that still has a good time...

BEWELCH
12-12-2006, 10:26 AM
like no other feeling! Plane flies alot better with out a cfi:D

AVIVIII
12-12-2006, 10:37 AM
this person won't soon forget her first solo....

http://www.newstimeslive.com/news/story.php?id=1024882

JetJocF14
12-12-2006, 12:11 PM
Was flying out of Laporte, TX (Houston) when my instructor looked over at me and said want to do it solo. We taxied back to the runup area and he got out and said do 3 touch and goes and come back here and pick me up. Took off and downwind all I could do is smile and look into the right hand seat with nobody there. Did 3, went back to the run-up area where my instructor was smoking a cigar. Picked him up, flew back to Hobby and after landing he cut the big hole in my shirt. Driving home that day with a hole in my shirt all I could think of was WOW.

AVIVIII
12-12-2006, 02:02 PM
I have always felt a little gyped. No one ever cut off my shirt. But I make sure that I do it to all of my students.

multipilot
12-12-2006, 07:21 PM
I have always felt a little gyped. No one ever cut off my shirt. But I make sure that I do it to all of my students.

I got ripped off too. My instructor cut my shirt and hung it up in his office. Later on during the year the flight department was assigned to another building closer to the flight line and during the move they trashed of all the stuff hanging on the wall, including solo shirts. So I never got to keep mine.

calcapt
12-14-2006, 04:18 PM
After loads of....bush, ........




Man, you had one heck of a flight school. How did you find time for that and your preflight?

Loads you say?

Roll Inverted and Pull
12-14-2006, 04:41 PM
I was a cadet flying out of Saufley Field in Pensacola. The instructor had me doing touch and gos at a grass field west of PNS. The field was called "8 Able". Anyway he told me to make a full stop, set the brakes, and then he secured the straps in the back seat (T 34B). He said "Make two touch and gos, then a full stop and pick me up...you`d better not leave me out here". I did as ordered..that was about my 9th or 10th flight. I really didn`t expect to solo that day. That was November 1958....48 years ago. I`ve logged 22,000 hours since then, but remember that day vividly...

vagabond
12-14-2006, 05:17 PM
Wow, Roll, you've been flying longer than I've been alive. Didn't think that was possible! I doubt I will ever achieve 22,000 hours (still languishing at 14 hours), but it's something to think about.

Bubblemonkey, congratulations on your solo. I asked my instructor a couple days ago about it and he just stared at me as if I just escaped from the insane asylum. I took that to mean I'm far from ready.

One final thing, Bubble, I know your goal is to be SO with CX. I know you are going to make it, and I look forward to seeing you on my next trip to Hong Kong. Have you been there? It's the most dynamic and cosmopolitan city I've ever visited. Anyway, keep us apprised of your progress.

LeoSV
12-14-2006, 08:09 PM
I was way more nervous on my first solo X-C than on my first solo. I could see the airport the whole time on the solo. What if I had gotten lost on my X-C? what if there was a pop up storm? what if somebody would come through a cloud illegally and not have time to avoid me? What if i had an inflight fire, I would have to go down 7000 feet to land on whatever was below me!! Ofcouse I don't worry about these things now, but thats what was going through my head then. My radios sucked and calling to open a flight plan was almost impossible. I was TERRIFIED the whole 50 mile trip!! My X-C was at KWDR, and it was a breeze..

UNDGUY
12-15-2006, 05:27 AM
My first solo was in Grand Forks, ND. I was so nervous I was shaking. I closed the door and sat there for a minute or so just taking in the fact that I wasn't going to have anyone there to save me if I did something stupid. I was really nervous right up until I lifted off. Then I just said to myself, well I have no choice but to do it now. After that I was pretty calm. Each landing calmed me down a little more. Only had one moment worth mentioning. On my final landing, tower told me to "keep my base in tight" for a crj on final. I really hadn't done this before or heard this before but I figured it out. Then they told me to keep the speed up and get off the runway quickly so the crj didn't have to go around. NO PRESSURE! I did it and lived and the crj didn't have to go around. ATC told me I did a great job. I will never forget that day.

C152driver
12-15-2006, 12:44 PM
Congratulations Bubblemonkey!

I remember the day as well as the plane. I soloed C-152 N-68172 on May 11, 1999. We did some pattern work and then I was instructed to let my CFI out at the FBO. His parting words were "Dont get slow in the turn to final" and I was off. I was so nervous that I bounced the first landing. The other two were fine. I got my shirt cut, and a couple of Polaroid photos of the event, one of which hung in the hallway of the FBO for several years. When it became clear that the school was going out of business due to bankruptcy earlier this year, I got that photo off of the wall and took it home with me. My CFI later gave me a hard time for doing 4 landings when I was only instructed to do 3.... ;)

calcapt
12-15-2006, 04:45 PM
I soloed in N66187, a nice little C-150 that the FBO talked me into buying before I started flight training. I always believed the trim wheel was the autopilot until sometime later pointed out to me that my airplane never had an autopilot. It was lime green and I was sssooooo smitten by her. Over 10 years later my two boys and I were having a little picnic on the ground within spitting distance of a small grass strip in a small Oklahoma town. We were too poor to go to Taco Bell or McDonalds in those days, but wouldn't of wanted to even if we had the money. Our Sunday picnics at the airport was akin to going to church for us. It had been 10 plus years and 2000 miles away from the last time I saw my green eyed girl. With no warning, I looked up to see N66187 in the flare to a nice touchdown right before my eyes. She was taxied over and tied down by two guys, one of which was a student on a cross country flight with his instructor. Fighting back tears from this incredible chance encounter, I introduced myself to the young pilots and explained to them my story. As I was expecting a special shared moment between the three of us, I was brought back to a harsh and cruel reality by the instructor saying "That is a nice story buddy, but well, we gotta run - we is hungry” Even my boys were unimpressed by my old trusty girlfriend as she had seen better days and was in need of a good wash and wax, and perhaps a bit of paint here and there. Seems a flight school had assumed ownership sometime after I reluctantly let her go, and never gave her the treatment she was afforded as one of my girls. She was always treated like a lady by me, as all my airplanes have been, and was always the queen of the ball with all her Arrow, Bonanza and Centurion friends on the flight line. I never saw her again after that day and I could swear that I heard her saying to me as I walked off, "Please take me back home with you" as I know she missed me too. She will always hold a very special place in my heart as my first real love. I have had others since, but in one way or another, they all have fallen short of my beloved green eyed beauty.

wild4theuniform
12-15-2006, 04:52 PM
I soloed in N66187, a nice little C-150 that the FBO talked me into buying before I started flight training. I always believed the trim wheel was the autopilot until sometime later pointed out to me that my airplane never had an autopilot. It was lime green and I was sssooooo smitten by her. Over 10 years later my two boys and I were having a little picnic on the ground within spitting distance of a small grass strip in a small Oklahoma town. We were too poor to go to Taco Bell or McDonalds in those days, but wouldn't of wanted to even if we had the money. Our Sunday picnics at the airport was akin to going to church for us. It had been 10 plus years and 2000 miles away from the last time I saw my green eyed girl. With no warning, I looked up to see N66187 in the flare to a nice touchdown right before my eyes. She was taxied over and tied down by two guys, one of which was a student on a cross country flight with his instructor. Fighting back tears from this incredible chance encounter, I introduced myself to the young pilots and explained to them my story. As I was expecting a special shared moment between the three of us, I was brought back to a harsh and cruel reality by the instructor saying "That is a nice story buddy, but well, we gotta run - we is hungry” Even my boys were unimpressed by my old trusty girlfriend as she had seen better days and was in need of a good wash and wax, and perhaps a bit of paint here and there. Seems a flight school had assumed ownership sometime after I reluctantly let her go, and never gave her the treatment she was afforded as one of my girls. She was always treated like a lady by me, as all my airplanes have been, and was always the queen of the ball with all her Arrow, Bonanza and Centurion friends on the flight line. I never saw her again after that day, but she will always hold a very special place in my heart as my first real love. I have had others since, but in one way or another, they all have fallen short of my beloved green eyed beauty.

Awwwwww. Isn't that sweet? Lucky girl to be have been treated so well by you. I'm sure she misses you too! Question -- You were a PIMP back then as well??!! :eek: :D

calcapt
12-15-2006, 05:13 PM
Awwwwww. Isn't that sweet? Lucky girl to be have been treated so well by you. I'm sure she misses you too! Question -- You were a PIMP back then as well??!! :eek: :D


No, I never attended or had time for pimp school until after I got my Commercial Pilot License. By doing it in that order, I could legally conduct my business in the air as well.

Most don't know that a pimp license is not a "one size fits all" certification. I have the ATP (Advanced Transportable Pimp) rating that most others fail to qualify for. My annual certification exams to maintain my proficiency are stories in and of themselves. Perhaps another time over a glass of chardonnay?

wild4theuniform
12-15-2006, 05:18 PM
By doing it in that order, I could legally conduct my business in the air as well.

Most don't know that a pimp license is not a "one size fits all" certification. I have the ATP (Advanced Transportable Pimp) rating that most others fail to qualify for. My annual certification exams to maintain my proficiency are stories in and of themselves. Perhaps another time over a glass of chardonnay?


So, you ARE a member of the MHC.:cool: Make it Merlot or champagne and we have a deal!;)

animals
12-15-2006, 05:43 PM
Love this:

I must admit though, I still smile and get excited at a smooth landing or a beautiful sunrise. I'm just crazy that way.


Also love: how a thread can be hijacked into yet another calcapt pimping thread. :D :eek:

calcapt
12-15-2006, 05:50 PM
MHC? No, after 17,000 flight hours and thousands of made up stories trying to impress the fillies, still no luck. Whenever the thought crosses my mind to sneak back on a redeye and drag the hottie in seat 2B into the forward lav for a little action, I am reminded that Continental will not pay me per diem while in court answering to charges of stupidity and wishful thinking. But still I wish....

calcapt
12-15-2006, 05:56 PM
Love this:




Also love: how a thread can be hijacked into yet another calcapt pimping thread. :D :eek:

If it weren't for the ladies on this site trying to pry into the soul of a pimp, I would talk of nothing but unions, bad management and sh$tty work conditions. I will try in the future to remain focused on less interesting topics and avoid talking of sex, brothels, women, lingerie and other out of place topics.

GotheriK
12-16-2006, 07:44 PM
MHC? No, after 17,000 flight hours and thousands of made up stories trying to impress the fillies, still no luck. Whenever the thought crosses my mind to sneak back on a redeye and drag the hottie in seat 2B into the forward lav for a little action, I am reminded that Continental will not pay me per diem while in court answering to charges of stupidity and wishful thinking. But still I wish....
Haha, I wish I knew more pilots like you. :D


















....













... :( :(

Murr907
02-02-2007, 09:36 PM
I did mine at Olive Branch Airport, just outside of Memphis. I suprisingly wasn't nervous just anxious. The minute I got clearance from tower and pulled on to Runway 36 I had the biggest smile on my face. During all three touch and go's I was singing a rap song I believe. Got the shirt cut and just recieved my PPL about 2 months ago. The smile hasn't faded since that day.

Douglas89
07-18-2019, 12:57 PM
Very old thread, but since I solo'ed recently I figured I would revive it.

I solo'ed this past Saturday. When I fly with my instructor I do all the flying, radio calls, etc. However, when I had to solo I was very nervous/scared. It really did not hit me until I had just taken off and was climbing out. I suddenly had the realization of "You better keep your ******* together and land this thing or you will die!"

My hands were sweating and heart was racing. First touch and go was OK. During the next climb out I calmed down a little bit but still was pretty darn nervous. I did 2 touch and go's and 1 full stop in total. I was pretty happy to finally be down when I landed. I enjoy flying a lot but I hope the nerves go away for soloing. I am supposed to do another solo soon.... probably this Saturday. I am supposed to fly out to the local practice area, fly around and do some basic maneuvers. So the flight will probably be about 1 hour.

Yesterday when I was flying, coming back from the practice area we had a weekend warrior buzzing pretty fast just below us going west (we were going east). He was not talking on the radio and I am pretty sure he did not see us. (He could of picked us up on ipad assuming he had one) but based on how he was flying I do not believe he knew we were there. Then as we got closer to the airport, he was back and now about 600'-800' below us and to our right. I turned away from him to get some more spacing.

The pattern was insanely busy. I could barely get my call into tower prior to entering their airspace (typically call 10 miles out) their airspace is about 5.8 miles. If I was solo with all of that it would of been extremely stressful for me. Shoot.... even with my instructor it was a stressful landing. I was #2 to land and the guy buzzing low was #3. I knew he was right up behind me and it definitely added to the stress. Once I landed, I fast taxied to get off the runway as quick as possible. Tower told him to go around just before I was turning off, but he said he could still salvage the landing so tower let him. By then I was already off. (We have an 8,000' runway, so plenty of runway) but that is how close he was to us. When we taxied back to the school, I looked over at the private hangars... that guy was hauling @$$ through the taxi way.

I am most nervous of a mid-air collision and/or crazy busy traffic pattern and tower wanting me to do some weird stuff. I am very comfortable with the pattern but when it is super busy and people keep talking over each other it gets stressful.

Did anyone else feel scared on their first solo? 2nd, 3rd etc.? I am assuming the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. How long did it take you to feel more comfortable soloing?

galaxy flyer
07-18-2019, 02:58 PM
Hard to forget, it was my 16th birthday! It had snowed a few days before, some kids had stomped a big HELP in an ice-covered lake and I thought it funny. It was after school, so the CFI got out and headed for the building to get out of cold. KDXR in ‘68.

UPT solo was mostly forgettable except being thrown in the dirty water bucket.

GF

BravoPapa
07-19-2019, 01:13 PM
9/23/1980. I really don't remember much about it other than being surprised he got out, and how much better the 152 climbed without him in it. I got to pattern altitude a lot quicker and the sight picture was a little different. No cutting of the shirt tail either. It was probably because he sprung it on me and I think I was in a regular collar/button up shirt.

Excargodog
07-19-2019, 08:43 PM
I only had about thirteen hours of flight time but somehow I’d lulled my CFI into a false sense of security. Our home field was narrow, short, and with kind of tricky approach and departure corridors due to a ridge with trees at one end and a substation with high voltage wires at the other end so first solos were done at a local uncontrolled muni airport that was longer and only had a major power line at the north end.

My CFI wasn’t much older than me - I think I was his third student - and when he told me to take him there I was sort of anticipating this might be it. He had me do three touch and goes and they went well, landing to the south into a modest wind right down the runway after coming in over the wires to the north of the field and he told me to make the last one a full stop and let him off at the gas pump at midfield. At that point I knew, today was the day.

He told me to go back up and give him three more landings just like the last three, all full stops and taxi backs.

He warned me the 172 would be a little stronger in the climb minus his 150# and he was right. On the first takeoff the aircraft lifted briskly - immediately followed by the passenger/CFI door popping open. But except for the noise level abruptly increasing, it wasn’t a problem. The airflow only let it open an inch or so. After one abortive attempt to close it with my right arm, I said the heck with it. It was on the right side of the aircraft and it was a left hand pattern and the fuel island was on the east side. My instructor wouldn’t see it and I could close and LOCK it (as he had cautioned me to do but I’d forgotten) after I made the first landing down at the departure end of the field.

The 1st landing was uneventful and I rolled out to the end, stopping to clean up the flaps (and close and lock the door) before taxiing back. I got an approving nod and a thumbs up from my CFI as I taxied past going back for my second solo takeoff. At this point I ought to mention the weather.

This all occurred in the Pacific Northwest in wintertime. The weather was about 2000 overcast - not unlike a Pacific Northwest summer actually. And visibility was pretty good, at least until you got 10-12 miles north of us, but we weren’t going there.

In the Puget Sound region you fly VFR when you can get it and 2000 overcast actually wasn’t all that bad. There was weather to the north of us, light rain and lower ceilings, and not even that far to the north of us, but weather at our airport was what the locals would consider “good” and non-locals would consider marginal VFR.

In any event, I taxied to the approach end, checked everything was trimmed and configured right, and took off. Couldn’t have gone much better. Turned downwind, watching all the usual landmarks, power back to 1800 rpm at midfield, carb heat on and power to idle andflaps down abeam the numbers, turn base at the usual landmark just inside the wires, and descend on the VASI or PAPI... it was a squeaker. All I could do to keep from patting myself on the back all the way down the runway. I’m sure I had a big grin on my face as I taxied past my CFI at the gas island. Unfortunately before I got back for my next takeoff, a V-tailed Beech pulled out in front of me.

OK, the airport had a runway AND a taxiway, but it wasn’t a big runway or taxiway and since the guy in the Beech didn’t pull over into the run up area there was no way I was getting past him. I could, I suppose, have done an intersection takeoff from 500 feet behind him as he was doing his run up but that would have been a fairly ballsy move for a student pilot with - by that time - just short of 14 hours TT with 13.6 dual. So I waited behind him...and waited...and waited.

In retrospect I think he was probably waiting for IFR release, we were under some very busy airspace and I would find out later there could be a lengthy wait, but at the time I thought he was just really slow at running a checklist. I waited...and waited...and waited.

Finally he pulled up and got lined up to takeoff. I breathed a sigh of relief and said “Finally...” as he added power. That’s when the FIRST large drop of rain hit my windshield. A few more hit before he broke ground, but I really didn’t hesitate. It was the Pacific Northwest. Even in my still somewhat less than 14 hours of flying, I’d flown in light rain. And visibility was great, at least up to the base of the overcast which was now down to about 1700 feet MSL, still A GOOD 700 feet over pattern altitude. I decided a little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop me from completing my solo. I didn’t really hesitate, pushing in on the throttle. It wasn’t until I broke ground - and had inadequate runway in front of me to stop - that the rain REALLY came down.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression - rain splashing down like a cow pi$$ing on a flat rock? THAT’S what it was like as I climbed up away from the runway. For those of you who have never flown a Cessna 172, no, it DOESN’T have windshield wipers.

So with actually fairly decent visibility out to the sides, but essentially no forward visibility, I made the turn onto downwind. At that point I remembered, there was a V-tail Beech out in front of me - or at least I thought there was.

Now the reality was that the V-tail was departing north, probably altpready above pattern altitude and pulling away from me in any event, but all I could think was that he was out in front of me in the pattern. The prudent thing seemed to be to slow up (I was reasonably sure a 172 could out slow a V-tail) and watch out my side window until I saw him below me on final. So I slowed up and waited, continuing on downwind, ...and waited...and waited.

And as I waited the rain got heavier and the ceiling got lower. Eventually I was far enough north that I knew he must of left the pattern. I turned a VERY extended base to go back for a straight in. Of course that put the runway in the forward windscreen where those huge drops were taking away all forward visibility which meant I couldn’t see the runway. That wasn’t my biggest concern though. I knew the altitude of the runway. My biggest concern was I couldn’t See the high tension lines BETWEEN me and the runway and I didn’t remember exactly how high they were.

They were definitely below pattern altitude though, so I decided not to descend below that altitude until I saw the power lines beneath me out of the side window. It wasn’t the worst idea, but I really wasn’t looking at the big picture, perhaps unsurprising considering I only had about 14.1 TT.

The big picture, however, was this: The wind out of the south which had been holding this little rain squall to the north had ceased, worse yet it had changed direction. It was now driving this low level cloudburst south, which meant I was now landing downwind.

Which also meant that I was late seeing the wires below me, and traveling faster than my airspeed was showing. Although I couldn’t see straight ahead, I did recognize the usual pattern landmarks out the side window. I pulled power and increased rate of descent at a rate I guessed would bring me to the ground right at the numbers, and it actually did work. I could have touched down right abeam the VASI, pretty much on the centerline, and only doing about 140 knots indicated - a whole 20 knots under Vne - on a runway with maybe a half inch of standing water, with no forward visibility. I prudently went around, giving the situation time to deteriorate further.

On downwind for my SECOND attempt at a third solo landing, the rain came down harder and the ceiling came down too. I was NOT in the clouds personally, but couldn’t really vouch for the tail beacon being below them and didn’t have the time or courage to try to look. I was again late seeing the wires, but brought it back to idle and added full flaps as soon as airspeed permitted. I was probably only doing 80 knots airspeed when I was ten foot over the numbers but I floated...and floated...and floated, before finally touching down on the runway (which had an inch of standing water on it) with about 500 feet remaining and no forward visibility. I added power and went around, allowing the weather to further deteriorate.

OK, the third pattern for my third solo landing was flown at 600 feet AGL, partly because I was FAIRLY CERTAIN I’d still be above the wires, but mainly because any higher and I would have been in the clouds. Besides that, the visibility was deteriorating in rain and mist. Even out the side window it was down to two miles or less. In fact, the only really prominent landmark as I did that third downwind was the pasty white face of my CFI standing in the drenching rain watching me at the fuel island, looking up at me.

I used partial flaps and crossed the wires at about 80 knots, then went idle and again sort of dived at where I figured the runway would be, judging by the view out the side window. To my surprise, I again got myself aligned in the middle of the runway, pretty much ten feet over the numbers.

Because of the tailwind I still didn’t suspect, I was actually doing about 100 knots groundspeed despite the 85 knots IAS. And there was a good inch or so of standing water on the runway. But I had made the decision it was better for me to go off the side or end at 20 or 30 knots then go back into the sky, get disoriented, and fall out of it at 100 knots. I planted it on.

I actually expected to hydroplane, but the wheels spun up and shot water up onto the underside of the wings (it was a trainer, no wheelpants) and we actually decelerated pretty quickly. I turned off one intersection short of the end, taxied back to the fuel pump and shut down.

My CFI, very much resembling a drowned rat, got in, sat down, and picked up my logbook and started writing, not saying a word. By the time he’d done his write up, signing off on my solo, his only written comment being “interesting,” and then debriefed, explaining about the wind change and the fact I’d been trying to land with a 15-20 knit tailwind, the squall had passed through and the skies were back to 2000 overcast. He nodded toward the home drone and said, “Let’s call it a day. See you Saturday as scheduled.”

Three days later I was back for my next lesson. I was actually kind of surprised the CFI showed up. He admitted that he’d had doubts about me showing up too.

Douglas89
07-20-2019, 07:18 AM
I only had about thirteen hours of flight time but somehow I’d lulled my CFI into a false sense of security. Our home field was narrow, short, and with kind of tricky approach and departure corridors due to a ridge with trees at one end and a substation with high voltage wires at the other end so first solos were done at a local uncontrolled muni airport that was longer and only had a major power line at the north end.

My CFI wasn’t much older than me - I think I was his third student - and when he told me to take him there I was sort of anticipating this might be it. He had me do three touch and goes and they went well, landing to the south into a modest wind right down the runway after coming in over the wires to the north of the field and he told me to make the last one a full stop and let him off at the gas pump at midfield. At that point I knew, today was the day.

He told me to go back up and give him three more landings just like the last three, all full stops and taxi backs.

He warned me the 172 would be a little stronger in the climb minus his 150# and he was right. On the first takeoff the aircraft lifted briskly - immediately followed by the passenger/CFI door popping open. But except for the noise level abruptly increasing, it wasn’t a problem. The airflow only let it open an inch or so. After one abortive attempt to close it with my right arm, I said the heck with it. It was on the right side of the aircraft and it was a left hand pattern and the fuel island was on the east side. My instructor wouldn’t see it and I could close and LOCK it (as he had cautioned me to do but I’d forgotten) after I made the first landing down at the departure end of the field.

The 1st landing was uneventful and I rolled out to the end, stopping to clean up the flaps (and close and lock the door) before taxiing back. I got an approving nod and a thumbs up from my CFI as I taxied past going back for my second solo takeoff. At this point I ought to mention the weather.

This all occurred in the Pacific Northwest in wintertime. The weather was about 2000 overcast - not unlike a Pacific Northwest summer actually. And visibility was pretty good, at least until you got 10-12 miles north of us, but we weren’t going there.

In the Puget Sound region you fly VFR when you can get it and 2000 overcast actually wasn’t all that bad. There was weather to the north of us, light rain and lower ceilings, and not even that far to the north of us, but weather at our airport was what the locals would consider “good” and non-locals would consider marginal VFR.

In any event, I taxied to the approach end, checked everything was trimmed and configured right, and took off. Couldn’t have gone much better. Turned downwind, watching all the usual landmarks, power back to 1800 rpm at midfield, carb heat on and power to idle andflaps down abeam the numbers, turn base at the usual landmark just inside the wires, and descend on the VASI or PAPI... it was a squeaker. All I could do to keep from patting myself on the back all the way down the runway. I’m sure I had a big grin on my face as I taxied past my CFI at the gas island. Unfortunately before I got back for my next takeoff, a V-tailed Beech pulled out in front of me.

OK, the airport had a runway AND a taxiway, but it wasn’t a big runway or taxiway and since the guy in the Beech didn’t pull over into the run up area there was no way I was getting past him. I could, I suppose, have done an intersection takeoff from 500 feet behind him as he was doing his run up but that would have been a fairly ballsy move for a student pilot with - by that time - just short of 14 hours TT with 13.6 dual. So I waited behind him...and waited...and waited.

In retrospect I think he was probably waiting for IFR release, we were under some very busy airspace and I would find out later there could be a lengthy wait, but at the time I thought he was just really slow at running a checklist. I waited...and waited...and waited.

Finally he pulled up and got lined up to takeoff. I breathed a sigh of relief and said “Finally...” as he added power. That’s when the FIRST large drop of rain hit my windshield. A few more hit before he broke ground, but I really didn’t hesitate. It was the Pacific Northwest. Even in my still somewhat less than 14 hours of flying, I’d flown in light rain. And visibility was great, at least up to the base of the overcast which was now down to about 1700 feet MSL, still A GOOD 700 feet over pattern altitude. I decided a little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop me from completing my solo. I didn’t really hesitate, pushing in on the throttle. It wasn’t until I broke ground - and had inadequate runway in front of me to stop - that the rain REALLY came down.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression - rain splashing down like a cow pi$$ing on a flat rock? THAT’S what it was like as I climbed up away from the runway. For those of you who have never flown a Cessna 172, no, it DOESN’T have windshield wipers.

So with actually fairly decent visibility out to the sides, but essentially no forward visibility, I made the turn onto downwind. At that point I remembered, there was a V-tail Beech out in front of me - or at least I thought there was.

Now the reality was that the V-tail was departing north, probably altpready above pattern altitude and pulling away from me in any event, but all I could think was that he was out in front of me in the pattern. The prudent thing seemed to be to slow up (I was reasonably sure a 172 could out slow a V-tail) and watch out my side window until I saw him below me on final. So I slowed up and waited, continuing on downwind, ...and waited...and waited.

And as I waited the rain got heavier and the ceiling got lower. Eventually I was far enough north that I knew he must of left the pattern. I turned a VERY extended base to go back for a straight in. Of course that put the runway in the forward windscreen where those huge drops were taking away all forward visibility which meant I couldn’t see the runway. That wasn’t my biggest concern though. I knew the altitude of the runway. My biggest concern was I couldn’t See the high tension lines BETWEEN me and the runway and I didn’t remember exactly how high they were.

They were definitely below pattern altitude though, so I decided not to descend below that altitude until I saw the power lines beneath me out of the side window. It wasn’t the worst idea, but I really wasn’t looking at the big picture, perhaps unsurprising considering I only had about 14.1 TT.

The big picture, however, was this: The wind out of the south which had been holding this little rain squall to the north had ceased, worse yet it had changed direction. It was now driving this low level cloudburst south, which meant I was now landing downwind.

Which also meant that I was late seeing the wires below me, and traveling faster than my airspeed was showing. Although I couldn’t see straight ahead, I did recognize the usual pattern landmarks out the side window. I pulled power and increased rate of descent at a rate I guessed would bring me to the ground right at the numbers, and it actually did work. I could have touched down right abeam the VASI, pretty much on the centerline, and only doing about 140 knots indicated - a whole 20 knots under Vne - on a runway with maybe a half inch of standing water, with no forward visibility. I prudently went around, giving the situation time to deteriorate further.

On downwind for my SECOND attempt at a third solo landing, the rain came down harder and the ceiling came down too. I was NOT in the clouds personally, but couldn’t really vouch for the tail beacon being below them and didn’t have the time or courage to try to look. I was again late seeing the wires, but brought it back to idle and added full flaps as soon as airspeed permitted. I was probably only doing 80 knots airspeed when I was ten foot over the numbers but I floated...and floated...and floated, before finally touching down on the runway (which had an inch of standing water on it) with about 500 feet remaining and no forward visibility. I added power and went around, allowing the weather to further deteriorate.

OK, the third pattern for my third solo landing was flown at 600 feet AGL, partly because I was FAIRLY CERTAIN I’d still be above the wires, but mainly because any higher and I would have been in the clouds. Besides that, the visibility was deteriorating in rain and mist. Even out the side window it was down to two miles or less. In fact, the only really prominent landmark as I did that third downwind was the pasty white face of my CFI standing in the drenching rain watching me at the fuel island, looking up at me.

I used partial flaps and crossed the wires at about 80 knots, then went idle and again sort of dived at where I figured the runway would be, judging by the view out the side window. To my surprise, I again got myself aligned in the middle of the runway, pretty much ten feet over the numbers.

Because of the tailwind I still didn’t suspect, I was actually doing about 100 knots groundspeed despite the 85 knots IAS. And there was a good inch or so of standing water on the runway. But I had made the decision it was better for me to go off the side or end at 20 or 30 knots then go back into the sky, get disoriented, and fall out of it at 100 knots. I planted it on.

I actually expected to hydroplane, but the wheels spun up and shot water up onto the underside of the wings (it was a trainer, no wheelpants) and we actually decelerated pretty quickly. I turned off one intersection short of the end, taxied back to the fuel pump and shut down.

My CFI, very much resembling a drowned rat, got in, sat down, and picked up my logbook and started writing, not saying a word. By the time he’d done his write up, signing off on my solo, his only written comment being “interesting,” and then debriefed, explaining about the wind change and the fact I’d been trying to land with a 15-20 knit tailwind, the squall had passed through and the skies were back to 2000 overcast. He nodded toward the home drone and said, “Let’s call it a day. See you Saturday as scheduled.”

Three days later I was back for my next lesson. I was actually kind of surprised the CFI showed up. He admitted that he’d had doubts about me showing up too.

Wow... that sounds pretty terrifying. Thanks for sharing that story.

I just did my second solo today. Flew out to the practice area. About 1.1 hours. This time I was much more relaxed. Compared to my first solo (which was just in the pattern) It was night and day.

Excargodog
07-20-2019, 08:43 AM
I just did my second solo today. Flew out to the practice area. About 1.1 hours. This time I was much more relaxed. Compared to my first solo (which was just in the pattern) It was night and day.

Yeah, heh heh. My later solos were less “interesting” too, fortunately.

;)

Packrat
07-21-2019, 08:22 AM
As I climbed out of Navy Corpus in a T-28 I remember wondering how a Japanese pilot with my level of experience would feel facing a pair of Navy Hellcat pilots with 500 hours of combat time in 1944.

Talk about your "dead man walking".

Douglas89
07-22-2019, 01:28 PM
As I climbed out of Navy Corpus in a T-28 I remember wondering how a Japanese pilot with my level of experience would feel facing a pair of Navy Hellcat pilots with 500 hours of combat time in 1944.

Talk about your "dead man walking".


I can not imagine the difficulty and fear of a young/low time american getting into a dog fight with a battle hardened luftwaffe pilot.

The fact that these guys could navigate as well as they did at night, or other adverse conditions behind enemy lines to drop bombs, etc. Really incredible.

Meanwhile, here I am trying to fly a little 172 and I am at around 30 hours. I wonder how many hours a typical fighter pilot had during WWII prior to being deployed?

Packrat
07-23-2019, 02:09 PM
Meanwhile, here I am trying to fly a little 172 and I am at around 30 hours. I wonder how many hours a typical fighter pilot had during WWII prior to being deployed?

I think I read that they had at least 500 hours of training before they were sent overseas. Even then the squadrons generally sent the senior (most experienced) pilots on missions that could get hairy. The newbies flew even more in theater training flights.

There are plenty of stories about wing commanding officers who flew as wingman to a junior officer who had more combat experience before electing to lead missions themselves.

galaxy flyer
07-23-2019, 07:19 PM
I can not imagine the difficulty and fear of a young/low time american getting into a dog fight with a battle hardened luftwaffe pilot.

The fact that these guys could navigate as well as they did at night, or other adverse conditions behind enemy lines to drop bombs, etc. Really incredible.

Meanwhile, here I am trying to fly a little 172 and I am at around 30 hours. I wonder how many hours a typical fighter pilot had during WWII prior to being deployed?

By late in ‘43, ‘44 the Luftwaffe was running out of combat experienced pilots. They never replaced their losses and kept the experience at the front lines, inevitably the odds killed them.

Packrat
07-24-2019, 08:48 AM
By late in ‘43, ‘44 the Luftwaffe was running out of combat experienced pilots. They never replaced their losses and kept the experience at the front lines, inevitably the odds killed them.

A true "fly until you die" staffing policy.

Flighttoken
08-03-2019, 08:35 PM
Being part of a 141 school mine was less of a surprise since it was mostly scheduled several days a week following a syllabus. However, it was very exciting. We saw other students getting their shirts cut so we always wore two shirts when close to the time. Another person mentioned it on here but I also had the wind change on me after a couple rounds in the pattern and had to switch to the crosswind runway. It was busy and some wouldn't switch while others were so it got a bit scary so I called my CFI while up and told him I was flying just outside of the pattern to setup for the other runway and got the other planes up to follow me lead and was able to land again. After it was a exciting high and many of the other pilots and CFIs came out to show their support. I of course got my shirt cut off and the instructors all took turns drawing on it. I still have it and carry it in my flight bag.