Road to the Right Seat 18 – Flying Solo
Story series: Road to the Right Seat
We've all had a crazy childhood dream and mine was becoming an airline pilot. Many young people who aspire a flying career are unaware of the content of flight training and the preparations which are needed. On November 23rd, 2015 I started my ATPL(A) training. Time to realize my childhood dream. I'd like to take you along on an adventure and I'll happily answer all your questions on the way. Let's do this!
August 26th, 2016 – After having trained for less than a month, I went up into the sky on my own. Another day I’ll never forget! I’ll be doing some more solo flights now and then it’s time for a new challenge: navigation flights.
Before starting my airline pilot training I used to fly gliders at a local aeroclub in Belgium. There I acquired my basic flying skills. Skills which I use now and will surely use in the future.
Besides the fact that there is no engine in a glider, there are a few other differences between a glider and a motorized airplane. Right now we’re flying in dense and busy controlled airspace which means there are certain rules which we have to apply. The radio communication is more complex and there are many new instruments we have to work with.
Glider flying is without a doubt a great way to learn the basics of flying. Something I can recommend to all aspiring pilots! It will always be the purest form of flight.
Progress Test 1
During our stay in Arizona, we have to pass four Progress Tests. A few days ago I had my first one. The goal of Progress Test 1: proving the examiner you are capable of flying the aircraft around the circuit in a safe and responsible way. However, before the test, I had to answer a few theoretical questions.
Most questions were about my flight preparations, general rules and I also had a few scenario based questions. Once this part had been concluded it was time to head to the aircraft.
In order to show the examiner we’re able to fly on our own, we have to do all sorts of landings. A normal landing, a flapless one and also a glide approach need to be done.
Once back on the ground I received great news: I passed my first test! Now it was time to focus on the next step, my first solo.
Not even 24 hours after passing my test the moment of truth had come. After a short flight with my instructor, it was time for him to get out of the airplane. We checked the weather and the airplane again before I departed on my own.
There I was. All alone in the Piper Archer. It felt just like the first time I was alone in my car!
I closed the door, started the engine, checked the wind and commenced my taxi to the runway. Ready for departure!
The first solo exists of only one circuit which basically means 6 minutes of flying. It may have been a short flight, but a memorable one nonetheless!
Once back on the ground my instructor and flight mate were waiting for me. Time for the first part of the tradition. Cutting the tie!
Many years ago pilots used to sit behind each other. The student would be in front and the instructor in back. Because radiocommunication wasn’t advanced and airplanes were loud, the instructor had to find a way to get the students’ attention.
Since the students’ tie was waving behind his neck anyway, the best way to get his attention was by pulling the tie. When you fly solo there is no instructor anymore so there’s no need for the tie!
When I arrived back at the apartment it was time for part two of the tradition. Getting thrown into the pool by the other students. One of the best ways to celebrate!
If you have any further questions about my training, feel free to leave a comment below. See you next week!
This story is part of the series Road to the Right Seat