If someone tells me they just soloed, or completed a cross-country, or finished the checkride, I’m happy for that person–and I say so. I congratulate him or her and ask for details of the event. (I really do want to hear all the gory details. It reminds me of my student days and keeps me humble.)
If someone says she just soloed, what you won’t hear me say is, “That’s great–when’s the cross-country?” Or, if she completed her checkride, “Way to go! Now on to the instrument rating.”
Whenever we achieve a goal in our flying, we need to take at least a couple moments to savor that accomplishment. From the day you walk into a flight school to schedule an introductory ride to the moment your designated pilot examiner signs your new temporary certificate, you’re on a journey that is rigorous and challenging. It will be incredibly rewarding, too–especially if we realize what we’ve achieved.
Take the solo, for example. You just flew an airplane all by yourself–something only about 628,000 other people in the United States have done. And if you’re 16 years old and soloing, consider that you’re likely flying an airplane at an age when your friends are driving a car. (On second thought, don’t remind your parents of that.)
That’s why we celebrate a solo with a cut shirt-tail. It’s why some of us still ask for a signature in the logbook at the airport on our solo cross-country–even though we’re not required to do that any more. It’s why AOPA’s MyFlightTraining website shares photos of milestones and “attaboys”. Those tangible expressions of our accomplishments bolster us and keep us going on what can seem like a very long road to the ultimate prize: our ticket.
So if you’re a student pilot, keep up the good work! Tell me about your milestones (Twitter: @jtallman1959) because I love to hear about them. Oh, and… congratulations!–Jill W. Tallman