Long suffering, belated first solo

We recently asked pilots on our Facebook page to share the story of their first solos. Here’s the second entry we received, from a pilot who wishes to remain anonymous: My first solo wasn’t really the exciting, giddy experience that I had imagined when I first started flying.

The trip to my first solo was a long and arduous trip, too long actually, way too long. It took so long that I had what seemed like hundreds of successful landings in conditions that to this day I still consider appalling. On one occasion coming into Austin Bergstrom Airport (AUS), Runway 35R, we battled a headwind so hard that on final our ground speed was less than 30 kts on the DME and I had to maintain the throttle at 2,200 rpm just to make the threshold. The yoke always cocked to the right, leaning the little 152 over so hard I thought surely we would scrap the wing tip. Even after landing, the plane wouldn’t taxi at less than 1900 rpm.

When I finally taxied out for my first solo at Lockhart Municipal (50R) I did, of course, realize that if something did go wrong I wouldn’t have anyone else to help me out, but I wasn’t too worried about my ability to land the aircraft. I had made so many crosswind landings at that same airport that I wasn’t even nervous about the experience — just relieved for the long belated opportunity to fly the airplane on my own.

I can still remember when I was at about 12 hours my instructor encouraging me to get my physical because I would be able to solo pretty soon. Little did I know that 18 hours later I would still be chugging away.

So, as it was, my first solo wasn’t the happy celebration that most people talk about, but merely a minor stepping stone that took so long to get to I almost quit flight training several times while other students who soloed sooner were out wrecking the aircraft I was training in so that I had to wait even longer. It really makes you feel good to know that your instructor doesn’t think you are good enough to fly the airplane, but they have trust in another person whose skills are “so good” that they break the aircraft after only a few hours of solo.

How about your first solo? Send your story to Janice@GeneralAviationNews.com with First Solo in the subject line for possible posting on our website.

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