My First Solo

December 20, 2000. The last lesson we had before the Christmas break. We'd been practicing landings for a few lessons, and I was doing them fairly well. They say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. If you can use the plane again, it was a great landing. I'd had a run of great landings.

So we headed out to Franklin airport, the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere airport that is great for practice. We did a couple of touch and goes, and on the last one he told me to make it a full stop and pull over on the taxi way. I did, and he looked at me with half a grin and said "Think you can shoot me three landings if I get out of this thing?"

"Yeah, I think I can." He smiled and said "I think you can, too." He asked for my log book and put an endorsement in it that I could fly solo, which is a requirement, and told me to do three while he stood there and watched. He said if I needed to stop and take a break, or anything like that, to go ahead and do it. Then he closed the door and walked away from the plane. I taxied up to the hold line on runway 18 and started the take-off routine.

It was the neatest feeling in the world. There I sat, alone in an airplane, about to take off into the wild blue yonder. I was a little nervous, but when I started doing what I needed to do, it was all familiar and I was surprisingly comfortable. I looked around for other aircraft, because sometimes they don't have radios or have them set wrong, made my call, and pulled out onto the runway.

It was an natural as when Donn was there. There's a set routine, and I followed it. The moment I left the ground, though, was one I'll never forget. I'm up, I'm all alone, and it's all up to me now! I am really Pilot-In-Command! I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world!

I made three pretty good landings and pulled around to pick Donn up again. He was grinning as much as I was, and shook my hand and congratulated me. We headed back to Rancho and he said I deserved that as a Christmas present. It was a good one!

Now for the real bragging part (I mean, that's what this whole site is for, right? ;-): The average for first solo is 10-15 hours. I did it in 7.2 hours (insert Theme From Rocky here). Yay me! :-)

I still had to do two more supervised solos (him on the ground, me in the air) before I could just go check out a plane, and those happened within a couple of weeks. Then, as soon as the weather permitted, which seemed like an eternity, I got to go out alone. That's cool, too, but it's another story.

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