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Old 03-15-2003, 01:03 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: iah
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My First Solo 3/14/2003

I have 19 hours with about 65 landings. I've been training at Sugar Land Aviation at KSGR, mostly in the Cessna 172R but also in some 172SPs.

I aced the pre-solo written (well, ok, got a 96) and at this school they have a pre-solo checkride that you do with a different instructor and he said I was fantastic and did my maneuvers at a level sufficient to pass a private pilot checkride. (Actually I had been struggling with landings but I got lucky with him and made a perfect one and he said OK, kid, you're good to go.)

I've been waiting to solo all week and each day watching the next day's forecast slowly degrade throughout the day. What was supposed to be SKT015 would turn into OVC001 BR VV001.

Today was no different, but Russell called to reschedule me for 2 PM. As I drove out to SGR, the weather was great with practically no wind. Cool.

I preflight N867CP and Russell comes out and hops in and says OK, Mr. Karl (He calls me Mister Karl), we're going to do touch-and-goes until I think you're ready, and if I think you're ready, you'll solo. OK. We do one touch-and-go. He says OK, do a full stop and drop me off.

Great. He warns me that the plane will be lighter without him and it'll float and I'll probably balloon. Fine. "Do three touch-and-goes, then do a full stop. On the first touch-and-go, no matter how well you're set up, do a go around." Cool.

"Sugar Land Ground, Cessna 867 charlie poppa at the flight school with ASOS, ready to taxi for closed traffic." "7 charlie poppa, taxi to 1 7 and hold." "1 7 and hold, 7 charlie poppa."

Lots of people were flying, so it took a while before I was cleared for takeoff. The temp was in the high 70s, and I was sweating. So I opened the window. "7 charlie pop, clear for takeoff on 1 7, make left traffic, report midfield."

I repeat the clearance, close the window, scan for traffic, roll into position, and apply full power. Gauges in the green, airspeed coming up, rotate at 55... she comes up real easy. I climb out at 80, which requires the nose on the horizon instead of a couple inches below. Noise abatement procedures require me to climb to 1000 before starting my crosswind.

Turn downwind, line up with highway 6. "7 charlie poppa is midfield, touch and go." "7 charlie poppa cleared for touch and go on 1 7." Hmm, abeam the numbers, altitude 1000, good, good. Chop the power to 1500, 10 degrees of flaps, let the speed come down to 75. Turn base, 20 degrees of flaps. Turn final. Runway numbers in the right place through the windshield... Nice red and white on the VASI... Yah, baby! Little more nose up trim. Looking good. Pull the power back. Start the flare. Hey, he told me to around the first time, full power. Postive rate of climb, dump the flaps to 10 degrees. "Sugar Land tower, 7 charlie poppa is going around." Positive rate of climb, dump the flaps.

Anyway, the next three landings got interesting because ATC had me turn early for the crosswind, make a long downwind, etc. I'm reading back "Make long downwind, wait to turn base until instructed, we're number 3, report the Grumman in sight, 7 charlie poppa." The little things that throw off your usual cues for setting up your landings... But my landings were sweet. I felt the start of a balloon and just slightly eased off the back pressure. Round out the flare. Pull back... pull back... *kiss* pull back... pull back... *nosewheel kiss*... dump the flaps, full power, rotate at 55, etc.

Anyway I landed full stop, taxied back to the flight school, pulled into my parking spot (perfectly I might add ), and out comes Russell with the Polaroid. He says I did great. And in the picture, I have this huge grin on my face. I wonder why
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Old 03-15-2003, 11:28 AM   #2
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Congratulations on making it to solo and doing so well! Most student pilots give up well before reaching that point and I suspect that few perform as well as you did on their first solo voyage.

Smart move on closing the window. I've been on a departure roll and realized that I left the window open. With my left hand on the flight controls and my right hand on the throttle, there's no chance of getting it taken care of until you're on upwind and have it trimmed for your climb.

Congrats again, Mr. Karl, and fly safely.
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