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Flights 34 at SpanaFlight 
(Total: .3 PIC, 37.3 Dual, 1.3 Sim IFR, .2 Night, 1.0 Complex, 158 Landings)


As you can probably figure out by reading above, I soloed today...I knew this day was close, but had no idea that it was going to be today.  

Got to the airport at my usual 20 minutes early, and my plane wasn't there.  I figured another student had it so I chatted some with Matt and another student at the school and then Matt and I headed back to do a little ground school.  I figured we were going to do some FAR review, but then I looked up and 05G was pulling up to the pumps.  Matt saw this too, and said that we had better get up before it got dark.

I headed out to the plane and preflighted, and decided to wait in the plane for Matt to arrive.  He did about 5 minutes later, and we started up and started heading towards 34.  I had checked the wind before I headed outside and noted that it was from the northwest at 5 knots.  I didn't expect too much crosswind, but I needed to use my crosswind taxi techniques today.  We headed to 34 and did the run up.  Everything checked and we took off.  

4705G in all its glory.I was looking forward to this flight as proof that I had indeed fixed my flare problems.  I learned a lot from last flight and wanted to show Matt that I could overcome this obstacle.  We headed up, turned crosswind, then downwind.  I noticed the crosswind some while taking off and crabbed to maintain my ground track.  I then was abeam the numbers, and pulled back power to 1500, waited for the plane to slow to Vfe (extended flaps speed) and put in some flaps.  Turned base a couple of seconds later, and added another notch of flaps.  Looks like I was right on the glide slope for this landing.  Turned final, and set the flaps to 30 degrees.  The approach looked fine, and I didn't need to compensate much for wind.  Added full flaps and about 50 yards from the runway numbers, pulled power.  I started rounding out, and shifted my eyes to the end of the runway.  I held the nose up....and up....and up....Squeak....I touched down....Damn...I side loaded quite a bit.

Matt commented that the side loading was a problem, but that my flare was terrific.  At least that was a plus for this lousy landing.  My hopes for solo almost drained completely then, as I figured that that would be enough to keep Matt from soloing me today.  We headed back to 34 to try it again.  I took off, and turned base and downwind.  On base, I noticed that I was too high and added a little more flaps in and slowed some.  Turned final, and I was on the glide slope.  I approached the field, rounded out, shifted my vision, and then flared.  This landing was a lot better than my last one, and I didn't side load at all.  I started feeling a little better about my landings.

Number three, however, I took off and on crosswind, saw another plane entering the 45 to downwind.  Matt called him and asked him to circle, in which he did.  turned downwind, then set up for landing. I turned base, looked at the runway, and it seemed that I was high, so I pulled power some.  But when I turned final, I wasn't high, I was really low and slow.  I decided right then that I didn't like this approach and added full power to go around.  Matt was going to recommend that I did just that, but instead, he commended me on my decision.  I took it around again and landed pretty good.  Again, no problem with the flare.

On the fourth time around the pattern, however, on the flare, I ballooned some, and Matt corrected.  I landed ok, and we talked about that one.  I didn't realize I had ballooned that much and just continued to flare without thinking to correct.  I figured that any chance of solo was gone now, so I decided to make the most of the next 2 landings so that I could at least feel better about today's flight.

The fifth landing, however, was picture perfect.  Matt commented that it was one of my best approaches and the best landing he had seen so far.  He said "OK, now one more just like that one" so I took the plane around again and as I landed, I heard Matt cheer and then he turned to me and said "So, how'd you like to solo today."  My heart skipped a beat as one of the toughest decisions I had ever made was on the table.  I thought about it some, and decided that it was now or never.  Matt had me pull the plane to the parking are and shut down the plane.  Matt signing my logbook for solo.

He then reached back and grabbed my logbooks and started signing away.  He then hopped out out of the plane and I had the sense to hand him my camera.  He said take it around once, and if you feel like it, 2 more times.  He then closed the door and I was alone.....

I restarted the plane, and taxied back to 34.  It was REALLY weird being alone in the plane.  That right seat didn't seem quite right being empty.  As I waited for about 4 planes to land, I kept checking and double checking everything in the plane to make sure nothing seemed out of place.  The last plane landed and I made my radio call and started out to 34.  "Last chance to end this" I thought as I lined my wheel to the centerline.  I then put in full power and started rolling down the runway.Matt took this on my first taxi alone.

I pulled back at 55 knots and the plane quite literally jumped off the runway.  I continued to climb and noticed that my pitch was too much, and lowered the nose some.  My heart was thump thump thumping in my chest about now as I realized that I had to get myself safely back down again.  I turned crosswind, exceeding my 30 degrees turn a little.  I didn't think the plane was going to be this sensitive without Matt's weight in the plane.  I continued to climb and turned downwind.  Better turn this time.  I then heard Matt on the radio asking me how I was doing.  I answered "Pretty good" and continued towards my landing.  That's it....My first solo flight.

Abeam the runway numbers, I pulled power, added carb heat, and when I was slow enough, I added the first notch of flaps.  I turned base a couple of second later, added another notch of flaps, and turned final.  Right then I noticed that everything was fine, and I became very sharply focused on the landing.  I added my last notch of flaps, and pulled power at 50 yards.  Then round out, and flare......"Squeak" and my butt was on the ground.  The scope of what I just did came rushing back and I let out a yell and punched the roof of the plane.  I HAD ACTUALLY FLOWN A PLANE BY MYSELF!  I heard Matt on the radio say "Nice Landing" and felt like I could then take on anything.  I decided, however, that that was enough flying for me for the day, and headed back to park the plane at the pumps.  Matt walked up and Hi-fived me and, after securing things at the pumps, he and I walked back in to the FBO.Taxiing back to the parking area after a safe landing.

Matt then proceeded to have me log my first .3 hours PIC time in my logbook and then had me take off my jacket.  The scissors came out and I lost the back end of my shirt.  Matt wrote the date and solo on it and thumb tacked it to the wall.  He then handed me a certificate that I soloed.  I left soon thereafter, emotions swelling the entire trip home.  Had a glass of champagne with my family to celebrate the event.  I'll be high on the events of today for weeks I know it.  Flying definitely is all that I thought it would be and a thousand times more.

Until then....Journal Page 39






Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000


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