If, like many of the people who read this blog, you're a student pilot or a non-aviator, you might look with awe at those leather-faced aviators or advanced students around the airport and wonder if they ever thought about when they were students or non-aviators like you. You know the type. They walk around with instrument approach plates and IFR en route charts that don't even have ground features marked on them.
They fly Bonanzas or Pitts Specials. Or, if they do fly the Cessna 172s in which you train, they're launching into overcast weather to actually go someplace. Believe me, they remember when the ink was wet on the first logbook entry from their first flight. they went home from the airport and they looked at that new entry at least a dozen times that day.
And, truth be told, most of them aren't really the leather-faced and invincible pros that you're making them out to be. And more truth be told, many of them watch you walk across the ramp to go preflight that Cessna 152 and they wish that they were you. Yeah. I'm not kidding.
I first soloed on July 14, 2001 in a Cessna 152, N94891. For lots of reasons that I won't go into here, I was pretty bunched up and nervous. But I charged down the runway all alone in the airplane and made three trips around the pattern and got it up and down all by myself. A quantum change in blood and bone occurred on rotation. No matter what happened after that, I had flown an arplane all by myself and realized a dream that had haunted me since I was a kid.
You'll drive home any number of times in your life, but you'll only drive home from your first solo once. Tingly, excited, and every song on the radio sounding a little sweeter than you ever remember it sounding before. Not that I'm such a red-hot air jockey now, but I'm separated from that first solo by many flight hours and more than seven years..