Sunday, 8 May 2011

My First Solo - A Day To Remember...

A Day To Remember

I set my alarm for 7 this morning and I was up looking out the window at 5:40, 6:20 and about 2 minutes after my alarm, wondering if my lesson was going to go ahead. I was quite nervous to be honest, I don't know why - perhaps intuition. Yesterday's lesson was quite good in fairly blusty conditions but today seemed much worse. I thought to myself, if I had to wait for another week for an aviation 'fix' that wouldn't be so bad. The trees were swaying around, and with the wind from the same direction as yesterday, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen. I logged on to XC Weather but it wasn't conclusive. I went downstairs, made some breakfast, a huge coffee and stuck on the x-box for some Halo. Shortly after, phone on my lap, the buzz went off and it was a text from my instructor. Weather was c-r-a-p , cancel the first lesson and lets see what happens for the second one! My other lesson (fallback option) was scheduled for 12:00.

At 11 the wind showed no sign of abating so I went out into the garden and after looking up at the clouds charging across overhead texted my instructor.."Hi Mike - Low level Cumulus clouds, quite gusty - shall I book for next Saturday?". No answer. Hmmm. My wife said to me "I really think he wants to fly today!".

By this time, my electric shower switch had for some reason decided to meet its maker and the upstairs landing was full of an acrid burnt smell. OK I thought, no problem, I'll head up to the airport and when I see the lessons cancelled, I'll shoot next door to Homebase and sort out a replacement.

I arrived at the airport in good time and my instructor was there and to my surprise said "OK Paul, it's not too bad out there. It's a bit rough on the climb out but thats fairly normal on 20. We are in Papa X-Ray which is coming back soon. when it's here you may as well go start your checks".

We were on Runway 20, Barometric pressure 999 (QFE) and the wind was about 14 mph from 190 Degrees. Being on 20 you get quite a battering shortly after takeoff when you fly over the M2 motorway and a valley full of trees. On my first take off and climb out I certainly felt it was rough. This continued for a few laps. I commented to Mike my instructor, that it really was quite difficult today.

And so the lesson continued. I was quite nervous and struggling with keeping the aircraft stable at times. It was quite rough. In addition to this, I also had a Helicoptor in the circuit to contend with.

Everything was going well, so on a turn into the base leg I said to Mike... "We're landing this time yeah?"... to which he replied ... "Well, maybe if you like but you're doing really well and you're Ok arent you?"... I replied in the affirmative "Yeah - I'm fine". I thought to myself... maybe he wants to do do one more circuit. 

So.. on the turn into Finals, he then says to me: "I'll get the radio." A couple of seconds later..."Papa X-Ray Finals for ......Short Stop"

I was concentrating on the approach to land but after a couple of seconds that phrase hit me like a rocket. "Short Stop?" ....... NO WAY! DOES THAT MEAN HE'S GOING TO GET OUT?????

And he did. We landed and turned off the runway. We stopped. "I want you to do this on your own. Enjoy it. I've not done anything today." I was a mili-second from saying "Thanks, but maybe next week Mike." but pride and determination got the better of me. In that split second I felt like this wasn't my choice now anyway, I owed it to everybody else, including my instructor to do this. And so I did.

I cannot describe how I felt when he shut the door and walked off, nor the feeling when I landed but it will live with me forever. I was only on my own for 15 minutes but it was a pivotal moment in my training. It was magical.

Learning to fly really is a wonderful voyage.

18.08-05-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 12:20 13:05 1:00 1-1 EX12/13
18.08-05-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 13:05 13:20 0:15 1-1 EX12/13 SELF

1 comment:

  1. nice one :) I might have to start thinking about learning to fly as well now :)