Senne Vandenputte

Senne Vandenputte

23 July 2018 - 1.3k views

Posted in Training

Getting Your Private Pilot License – First Solo!

4 min read

Story series: Getting Your Private Pilot License

As a glider pilot with about 220 flying hours, I finally decided to take the jump and start my Private Pilot training in June 2018.In this series, I share my experiences of getting my Private Pilot License in Belgium. From preparing for my first lesson, to my first solo flights and ultimately my checkride.I hope these articles will be able to help you get the most out of your own flight training!

Another week went by. When you’re living from flight to flight, time passes by fast, believe me!

But this would be a special Sunday. Last week we finished the last pre-solo exercise: circuit training. In the previous 4 flights, we covered all the basic flying exercises, procedures and emergencies. Now also the circuit training could be checked off the list.

Since my instructor wasn’t available this weekend, I booked a flight on Sunday morning with another instructor, someone I had flown with some years ago. The objective of the flight would be to perform a few circuits and in case those went well, to fly my first solo circuits. 

After the third successful touch-and-go, my instructor told me

“Next one will be full-stop, you know what that means.”

I made a full-stop landing and taxied back to the holding point while my instructor gave me some last advice and pointers to take into account when flying solo. They forecasted great weather for gliding, so all gliders were laying next to runway with the pilots standing next to them, looking as I was lining up for my first motorized solo. The extra eyes on my landings gave a little extra pressure (or motivation) to nail my landings each time! 

My first solo take-off. It climbs like a rocket without an instructor!

As a bare minimum, I had to do one touch-and-go and one full-stop landing. Since I had the plane booked until 1 pm, I had time to do some extra circuits to practice my landings some more. After shutting down the engine, I had flown for exactly 40 minutes, not bad for a first solo!

I soloed after 4 flying lessons totaling 4h13 of dual instruction and a check flight of about 30 minutes. This might seem fast to people just starting out, but keep in mind I had previous flying experience flying gliders for about 190 hours. It’s completely normal that most people will take longer than this before their first solo flight, which is nothing to worry about, there’s no need to rush things! It was only after going over every emergency procedure and situation that the instructor signed me off for my solo flight.

But although this wasn’t my first real solo (I soloed in a glider at 15), it was still a special feeling to fly solo with an engine!

Exercises progress:

  • Exercise 1a: Familiarisation with the airplane
  • Exercise 1b: Emergency drills
  • Exercise 2: Preparation for and action after flight
  • Exercise 3: Air experience: flight exercise
  • Exercise 4: Effects of controls
  • Exercise 5a: Taxiing
  • Exercise 5b: Emergencies: brake and steering failure
  • Exercise 6: Straight and level
  • Exercise 7: Climbing
  • Exercise 8: Descending
  • Exercise 9: Turning
  • Exercise 10a: Slow flight
  • Exercise 10b: Stalling
  • Exercise 11: Spin avoidance
  • Exercise 12: Take-off and climb to downwind position
  • Exercise 13: Circuit, approach and landing
  • Exercise 12/13: Emergencies
  • Exercise 14: First solo!
  • Exercise 15: Advanced turning
  • Exercise 16: Forced landing without power
  • Exercise 17: Precautionary landing
  • Exercise 18a: Navigation
  • Exercise 18b: Navigation problems at lower levels in reduced visibility
  • Exercise 18c: Radio navigation
  • Exercise 19: Basic instrument flight

What does it feel great to mark that exercise 14 as completed 🙂 

My base to final turn for runway 35 in Goetsenhoven would be directly above my house. I remember watching planes fly over all the time as a kid, an incredible feeling to now be doing that all by myself in a motorized airplane.
First solo signed off in the logbook!

To finish I once again want to thank Flight Outfitters and Faro Aviation for creating great gear I couldn’t live without anymore. My Faro G2 ANR aviation headset keeps my ears protected and stays comfortable, no matter how long the flight. My new Flight Outfitters Lift flight bag is perfect to organize and protect all my gear, making it easy to find the stuff I need instantly before and during the flight.


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Can’t wait for my next flight on Sunday, talk to you then!


This story is part of the series Getting Your Private Pilot License

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