Today (May 22nd, 2008) was the big day! I SOLOED! The weather held up nicely and the skies were beautifully clear … I had a good feeling on my drive to the airport. I got to Westosha for my lesson and my CFI told me to pre-flight, start the plane up, and taxi it to the clubhouse by myself. I did all that, picked him up, and we ran the pattern at Westosha a few times. Everything wet swimmingly – the winds were at a slight crosswind for Westosha, but my landings were right on the mark. My CFI then said to head over to Burlington (BUU) to try some landings over there. After a short 10-minute jaunt I was on final for Runway 11 at BUU, with a perfect slight headwind. The landing was incredibly easy (as BUU’s strip is almost double the width of Westosha) and my CFI told me to taxi over to a hangar were he proceeded to get out and asked me a final “you ready for this?” I of course said yes and he told me to run the pattern a few times … by myself!
I taxied to the end of Runway 11 and called out my first solo radio announcement: “Burlington Traffic, Cessna 920, Departing Runway 11, Remaining in the Pattern, Burlington” and was off. Full throttle and I was kickin’ down the runway, accelerating faster than ever before. The plane felt like it leaped off the ground without the added weight of my CFI. I was soon in the air realizing, holy crap, this is all me! I was 10000% responsible for getting me on the ground. It was incredibly exhilarating and scary at the same time.
There was another plane around the airport that was taxiing towards the runway as I was making my way around the pattern. I was turning final and had made all my proper radio calls, yet he still took the runway in front of me and proceeded to takeoff. In retrospect there was plenty of room to land after him, but I wanted to give myself tons of space so I executed a go-around on my first pass…no biggie, but I was a little disappointed and spooked. However, I worked the pattern a 2nd time and was again lined up for final. My glide was perfect and my first solo touchdown was very smooth…I was elated! I did it, I officially became a pilot at that moment!
Although I had plenty of room to touch-and-go, I went full stop and taxied back around and ran the pattern again. All in all, I did three takeoffs and landings solo, a full 30 minutes worth of flying. I picked up my CFI and he said the landings looked great and I handled the traffic just fine. We headed back to Westosha and I finished the day with a nice moderate crosswind landing.
I fueled up the plane and my CFI came out and cut the my shirt tail off my back (the tradition for first solos). You can see a picture of what’s left of my shirt here. I don’t think I’ve been more proud of a destroyed item of clothing before!
I can’t wait for my next solo flight! This lesson I logged 0.9 hours and 5 landings dual, 0.5 hours and 3 landings SOLO, baby!