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Posted by on in Flying reports

I was invited to share my experience from my first solo flight on late Sunday afternoon, which was an exciting event and one that I will remember for a very long time.

Sunday was an eventful day at the airfield.  The cadets were already flying when I arrived with my father.  Phil was instructing and Leigh was also there for training.  I had begun my training in October last year and had no idea that I would be flying my first solo later in the day.

I flew in the PW6 with Phil initially and noticed a lot of air traffic and radio chatter.  A number of powered aircraft were making radio calls.  It required greater concentration but gave me a good chance to practice looking out for and identifying the other aircraft.

Phil allowed me to decide when it was time to join the circuit, which was valuable to the process of learning good decision making.  He explained that moving away from the field in search of lift was okay, if you were prepared to turn back with sufficient height to land safely in the event of not finding a thermal.

After landing Phil thought I was ready for emergencies, which he explained would involve the tug signals and aerotow launch failures.

I flew with Sid a number of times later in the day.  He tricked me a number of times when he simulated a rope brake by releasing it.  I thought we were climbing to 4000’ AGL to practice spin recovery and was suddenly presented with the next decision.

During the training phase you will find yourself announcing your options in the event of a launch emergency during the pre-flight checks.  It was at first a bit of a shock when having to execute a landing technique under the circumstances.

I practiced landing ahead after the low break.  Sid released the rope on another flight which required a 180 degree turn to land back at the field.

After the emergencies, Sid finally allowed us to climb and practice spinning and recovering.  I landed and Sid, after speaking with Phil, told me that I was doing the next flight on my own.

I was suddenly a bit nervous but also excited.  I told myself to do exactly what I had done minutes ago and to relax and enjoy the experience.

I launched after completing the checks, with Sid holding the wing and Bill towing in WPS.  I released at 2000’ AGL and stayed to the east of the field, getting a feel for the handling of the PW6 with nobody in the back seat.

I enjoyed the flight and imagined hearing my instructors’ voices in my head as I went through the standard procedures.

In the late afternoon with no thermals, I stayed airborne for just over twenty minutes.  I landed after having thoroughly enjoying the flight and was congratulated.  It all happened very quickly, but surprisingly I didn’t feel rushed or overworked.

I wish to extend my thanks to Sid and Phil for instructing on Sunday, Leigh for helping after the emergency simulations and Bill and Val for towing.  Also, I’d like to thank all the instructors that have flown with me.  Finally, a big thanks to my dad for driving me to Warwick, Owen, and to those who have kindly offered a lift.

I’m excited to continue the training and looking forward to heading back to Warwick for another weekend.

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