Your connection with the sky

The Student Pilot: Inspiration

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..

5 Responses to “The Student Pilot: Inspiration”

  1. Mike Porter Says:
    March 10th, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Funny you mentioned songs on the radio on the way home after solo. On my trip home Tom Petty's "Learning To Fly" actually came on the radio! I turned it up so loud I'm surprised it didn't blow the speakers. What a memory!

  2. I really enjoyed soloing just recently. I still feel a bit overwhelmed on what lies ahead to fully appreciate the experience. I had a small log book that was big enough to take me to the first solo. The last line was the solo flight. Now that single book is a document dedicated to achieving the solo flight. So now I graduate to the standard log book and complete this journey I started.

  3. Norm Deragon Says:
    March 18th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I took my first flight lesson in a Cessna 150 thirty five years ago! After 15 hours, I had to stop. My wife and I bought our first home, I went back to college, and then our two sons came along. There wasn't any money in the budget for flying.

    But now the house is paid for and the sons are grown and on their own, and at age 59 I'm I'm taking flying lessons again. This time in a Cessna 172 with a glass cockpit! Quite a change from that 150 I flew in 1973. My first Solo flight is still weeks away. As the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait." It's been a few decades of dreaming, but the reality of soaring alone in an airplane seems finally within reach.

  4. Well, I am about to solo in a couple of days..I am in a full immersion course in Florida, after 2 years of stop and start lessons (life got in the way more than once)...I can't wait...worked the pattern repeatedly today and got 7 good landings and takeoffs in a row so feel it is close...feel very comfortable in the pattern..hopefully will feel the same way when I solo!

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