Lesson 41 - Tuesday July 20th

First Solo!

Woo woo!  I actually did my solo today.  It was a little unexpected, as I'd not flown for two weeks, but when I arrive Craig says "I think we are going to solo you today".  "Ok" I say, gulp!

I've just taken delivery of a portable GPS system, a Garmin GPSMap 296, and I switch this on, and stash it in the bag, hoping to record the momentous trip.

So I preflight just like normal, except I'm a bit nervous so I keep forgetting things, and I have to go back and re-do them (like checking the oil).  But I get it done, Craig arrives and explains that he think my flying should have had a chance to sink in by being away, and now we'll do three landings together, and then he'll get out and I'll do three by myself.

Up and away, we go round the pattern as normal, and my first landing is great!  I smoothly touch down, and we touch and go around for two more landings, both fairly uneventful, although the first one remained the best. 

After landing number three, Craig has me taxi over to the Typhoo restaurant, where he gets out, and wishes me luck!

So, for the first time ever, I'm taxing in the plane by myself.  It seems oddly calm, almost relaxing, so I start talking to myself, telling myself what to do.   I arrive at 21, and request left close traffic.  Takeoff is fairly normal, except I climb a bit faster,  I go round the pattern, get extended a little, then tower asks me "8567C can you turn you base now", and I reply "yes I can, 8567C", "Okay, turn base".

So I start my descent, turn base, turn final, talk myself through the whole thing, "okay, a little low, more power, a little slow, nose down, keep on target, two whites two reds, okay, sinking a bit, more power, over the fence, reduce power, bring it down, hold it off, hold it off, bump!".

And I've landed, no bounce, but a bit of a bump, but still a good landing.  I taxi off, and request "back to 21".

I then do it again, this time extended a bit further out, and follow a cessna in, but similar.  Towards the end I come in a bit low and balloon up a bit, but correct reasonably well, and land with just a bit of a bump.

Off again, this time extended even more as there are two planes ahead of me, but the result is similar.  I land with a bit of bump, and taxi off, and back to Justice.

I then park the plane, again a first thing to do by myself, and head back to Justice, where I get congratulated, and my name written on the board. 

I can now rent a plane any time I like to practice in the Santa Monica pattern.  Next lesson I'll get checked out to Camarillo, and maybe Van Nuys, so I can then fly solo to those airports.

My GPS worked as well, here's the image:

The yellow and white lines that look like a crazy paper clip are the tracks of my flights.  The start is in the middle of the image, with the small hook being the taxi into Justice parking.

The white tracks are the first three patterns with Craig, they go counter-clockwise.  You can see on the first one we had to offset to the right to make room for a jet coming up behind us.

The three yellow tracks are my solos.  They each get progressively further past the 405.  You can see the little kink after takeoff for each one which is the noise-abatement procedure to over-fly the golf course.  They are not entirely consistent with the turn to downwind, but they were my fist solo flights, so that pretty good for me!

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(c) 2004 Mick West