Flight 18: First Unsupervised Solo

I finally flew alone away from the airport. It had been almost two weeks since my only solo flight, so I was anxious to venture off on my own, wondering how well it would go. It was great, and if I hadn’t needed to return the plane on time and get to ground school I could have stayed up for another hour.

The wind was calm today (maybe 7 knots) and the temperature was about 70. The ceiling was 12,000 feet, fairly solid, and since it was late afternoon there was a sun sandwich between the clouds and the horizon. The air was smoother than ever.

I made a point of going up just for the joy of it, not working on any skills beyond maintaining a constant, legal altitude, and scanning for traffic. Outside the pattern I saw no more than three other aircraft in half an hour. Even the radio was quiet (yes, it was working!). Sometimes on the weekend it’s hard to get a word in since our frequency is used at so many airports within range.

I flew around our training area and a few other places within a few miles of the airport. I got a chance to break in my new push-to-talk switch, which I had bought a few days ago but didn’t use last time since the Warrior has a built-in one.

As it was for my first solo, the best thing about the flight was that everything about it was routine. (Although the ability to show up and fly myself without an instructor, just like a real pilot, was pretty cool, too!) I made it back without losing track of the airport, entered the pattern properly, and did just one landing, which was decent for not having landed a Cessna in nine days.

I learned some more about what happened to the 150 that ran out of fuel. Our ground school class went to the hangar to see what was left of it. (Ironically, tonight’s scheduled topic was flight planning.) The wings had been removed to fit the plane on a truck to bring it home; one wing was fine, the other was bent enough to resemble a nun’s headgear. The cockpit and propeller were unharmed, but there was damage to the nose, fuselage, and tail.

Update 3/25/96: The plane has been sold for salvage.

Update 5/5/97: The National Transportation Safety Board issued its report on the incident.

Today: 0.7 hours
Total: 20.6 hours
Total Solo: 1.1 hours

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