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Trip Report: My First Solo! ELN-ELN w/pics

Posted by bluewhale 
Trip Report: My First Solo! ELN-ELN w/pics
November 21, 2010 01:36PM
A major milestone of being in private pilot ground school is doing your first solo flight. Some of us students dread it because you are flying completely by yourself for the first time, which means that you have to watch other traffic and make sure that you have a general idea of where everyone is in the traffic pattern through the radio. Other students like me greatly look forward to the solo, because it is a really unique experience and is a step closer to become a pilot of an airliner. Personally, I was especially excited because I had the opportunity to become the second private pilot student in the class of 2014 to do their solo, which means bragging rights!

In the week before November 4th, I was very busy trying to get ready for my pre-solo evaluation, which determines whether or not I am proficient enough to operate an aircraft as the pilot in command. This evaluation is conducted by one of the chief flight instructors and not the instructor I had already, so this is something that I really had to be prepared for. During that week, I was flying every day to make sure that I could still land smoothly and on the rear wheels instead of the nose gear. It was also a lot of work because I had to study landing errors, for instance, I had to know what to do if I was too low and too high on approach, as well as more complicated errors like late or rapid round outs on landing. Talk about a stressful and busy week!

Finally, the morning of November 4th arrived and my pre-solo evaluation was at 7 AM. I woke up at 6:20, and got dressed in nice clothes for this evaluation. Since Ellensburg is a lot colder than home, I had to scrape all of the ice off my windows on the car and then I was on my way. I was a bit early, as I wanted to talk to my CFI before. I gave her my weight and balance sheet and she said it was good. Next, I met the flight instructor who would be doing my evaluation. His name is Peter Dzubak, and he looks a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger and also talks like him. He told me to preflight the plane, so I went outside into the cold and checked the antennas, fuselage, lights, tires, brakes, fuel, and oil. Afterwards, he gave me a briefing in which he told me that he would be giving me scenarios such as a simulated engine failure, and he would also modify my approaches to see how I correct them. He also asked me a few questions, asking me what I believe to be a good takeoff, what I believe to be a good landing, and what I would do if I had a rapid or late round out. I told him that a good takeoff is that the pilot is on center line, and climbs at 67 knots which is the most efficient way to takeoff, combining airspeed and vertical speed. A good landing is one that has a smooth and steady round out and that is also on center line. To correct for the rapid or late round out, keep a steady attitude and increase power a little to ease the plane onto the ground.

After that, it was time for my flying portion, and today I would be flying the Cessna 152 reg. N5366M which is their oldest plane, but also their fastest C-152 since it has a brand new engine. I did all the usual checklists on the ground and we took off of runway 29 after waiting for several planes to do touch-and-goes. The first two touch-and-goes that we did were normal and were good, as he seemed pretty content with them. After the second one, he took control of the throttle on takeoff and reduced it fully, simulating an engine failure, and he asked what I would do. I told him I would first pitch for the best glide speed of 60 knots and look for a nearby field to land on since turning back to the runway takes way too long. He was happy with my answer and told me to recover. We then attempted 2 more touch-and-goes, the first time he told me to go around, which I performed well. In the second touch-and-go, he set me up too high and asked me how I would recover it. I responded by doing a forward slip, in which I do full right rudder and left aileron to counteract the rudder, and pushed down the yoke slightly which allows the plane to easily lose altitude in no time. He was satisfied and told me to do another go-around and he was again content with how I did that as I did the controls in order. Finally, we did one more landing and made a full-stop. After taxing back to the fuel pumps and powering off the plane, we had went to debrief. Once back in the office, he told me good job and that I passed and advised me on a few things to work on. After that, I met with my own CFI, who was real nervous since my roommate was also doing a pre-solo evaluation and solo today. At first, I made it sound like I didn’t pass, and then she saw my logbook which showed that I had indeed passed and she was pissed! But it was all in good nature and she told me to come back at 11 o’clock for my solo.

Coming back to the airport later, I checked in and preflighted my plane, which was a different C-152 reg. N95606. Once done, my CFI took me up and we did two touch-and-goes off runway 7 as a warm up. On the second touch-and-go, we made a full stop and taxied back to the stands where I quickly went to the bathroom and she got out and got a walkie-talkie so that she could communicate with me on the ground if she needed to, and she would be standing on the side of the runway. I got in the plane, and my CFI walked to the runway to watch me as I did my start-up checklist. After that, I began my taxi to runway 7.

Taxing to runway 7 – the propeller looks really weird because it is rotating at 1000 rpm… and you can also see my CFI walking on the taxiway.

Proof that I was alone – the right seat is filled with my instructor’s stuff

There goes my CFI – yes she is a woman (kind of rare in the aviation biz)

I got to the end of runway 7, where there was a Piper in first place for takeoff. I did my prior to takeoff checklist and waited, as the Piper was taking a while.

Instrument panel while holding short – my CFI says that I stare at this too much and not enough out the windshield because I played Flight Simulator so much

Probably 3 minutes after I finished my checklist, the Piper announced it was departing on runway 7 straight out, meaning that it would be leaving the traffic pattern which was good. Currently, everyone flying during this block of time was in a practice area away from the airport so I had the traffic pattern all to myself. I waited for the Piper to rotate, and then I started my takeoff roll and took off in about 1,000 feet since it was only me!

Ellensburg on crosswind (after takeoff, I climb to 2300 feet and turn left)

By now, I started to think about how I was all alone in this plane – how serene and peaceful it was with nobody around me, as I flew the plane by myself and enjoyed the view.

On downwind (parallel) to runway 7 – you can also see the airport from here.

I could not stop thinking about how I was all alone flying a plane! Most people have never physically flown a plane, never had the opportunity to, and will never get to; some people have never seen an airliner up close in real life, but here I was in the pilot in command of a Cessna! It was incredible to think that one of my dreams has come true, that I was now a pilot and that I was flying the plane, taking off, landing, banking, and talking on the radio, all without direct supervision!

Wing on downwind taken from approximately 2,600 feet

Propeller spinning at approximately 2,300 RPM on downwind

After that, I reduced my power to 1,500 RPM, turned on the carburetor heat and retracted flaps to 10 degrees for decent. I then banked left and retracted flaps to 20 degrees for the base leg. I banked left once more for the final leg and retracted flaps to 30 degrees and got ready for my first landing on my own! I was easing in to it, slowly, and I passed the piano keys and I rounded out, and then THUD!!! I bounced on the runway so hard that I was probably 10 feet airborne again so I decided to go around rather than try to correct the landing. I was so ticked off at myself but oh well; I got to do another touch-and-go because I have to do it three times.

This time around, I did the crosswind and downwind legs again just fine, until I turned base. At this point, I got a little nervous and thought to myself why I was doing this. I just thought that I need to get through it and be careful. This time, I touched down softly and remained on the ground, keeping the nose in the air to slow down aerodynamically. I did it! Okay this was really fun now! With that, I retracted my flaps, turned off my carburetor heat and powered down the runway. I got airborne again, flew the crosswind, downwind, base, and final legs again and did another flawless touch-and-go. On the last one, I decided to take a few more pictures in places where I might have missed.

Picture on crosswind

The river by ELN on base

Short final for runway 7 and cows are grazing at the base. The department head of the aviation department says that renting out the fields around the runway base and threshold for runway 7 for cow grazing is Ellensburg airport’s number one source of revenue! That is, aviation revenues are not as high as the revenue fees they collect for renting out land to local farmers for their cows. You can definitely tell that this airport is in the middle of nowhere and Ellensburg is a REALLY small town!

Slowing down on runway 7 – you can tell that this runway needs repairs

Ramp and fuel pumps here at ELN

Yep I did three touch-and-goes and I’m taxing to the fuel pumps, yet my CFI is still not here…

This plane may be small compared to airliners, but it is giant compared to the little tin can I fly…

I taxied in and parked by the fuel pumps and gathered my things. The lineman and my CFI came over to congratulate me on my first solo and that I was the second in my class to do it! That must mean that I'm a pretty okay pilot. And as of this writing, only 5 people have soloed including me.

Here is the plane that I did my first solo in – N95606, a Cessna 152.

So, my CFI and I went back into the FBO office where all of the lady dispatchers/receptionists were inside waiting for me with a green souvenir t-shirt and a certificate authenticating my first solo. They were really taking this seriously and congratulating me, which made this already fun and extraordinary experience even better! The feeling I felt now was like no other, and I had never felt happier, more qualified, or more proud than I did at that moment. It was way better than getting an A on a super hard test, getting done with school for the year, or even graduating high school itself! It is definitely a feeling that I will remember forever and that I will always look back on. Just writing this and thinking about it now brings back those feelings and memories and make me relive that extraordinary moment. One of my aviation professors even says that the feeling is better than getting married or having a child! I’ll have to wait and see about that though. I got my green shirt and they took me outside to N95606 and took pictures of me to put up on their wall in the office. Every time I come in for a flight, I love looking at that picture on the wall. And no, they did not cut out the back of the shirt that I was presently wearing, even though it is a major tradition at other FBO’s. I’m not sure what the reason is behind my FBO not doing it.

Afterwards, we went back into my CFI’s office and she debriefed with me and said everything was good. She even filmed my 3 landings! So I sat there watching in awe as I landed my plane three different times. (The videos are on my facebook I’ll have to see if I’m able to upload those vids) After that, she congratulated me again and I was on my way back to the dorm!

Lesson 9 is the lesson in which you do your solo in, and only I and one other guy have completed in this picture. I was officially the second!

Throughout the day that day, everyone congratulated me and asked me about it, making me feel great for the rest of the day. It is definitely a huge milestone to solo for the first time. The feeling is so great and is better than any other feeling. That day is definitely one that I will always remember!

Re: Trip Report: My First Solo! ELN-ELN w/pics
November 22, 2010 10:31PM
Wow. Congrats on the flight smiling smiley I wasn't flying solo, but flying a Piper Cherokee was a very magical time. I can only imagine how it is to handle every phase of a flight. It does feel like you're on top of the world, and seeing your town from above is a very cool experience.

Love the trip you have planned. Is it just a down and back for fun? I wish I was planning to fly anytime soon. Sadly, I'm not.

Proud Member Since 2003
Re: Trip Report: My First Solo! ELN-ELN w/pics
November 23, 2010 07:30PM
Thank you! Yeah if you thought that just fying the plane was cool, the solo is probably 10 times better, especially after all of the hours that you have spent with your instructor.

As for the trip, yeah it's just for fun. I'm going with another aviation buddy I met here at CWU and we're going to go spotting, fly the on planes, and go to In N Out! It'll be an experience for us because I want to fly on Virgin and he wants to fly on the Q400. I am really looking forward to it!

Re: Trip Report: My First Solo! ELN-ELN w/pics
November 24, 2010 10:44PM

As for the trip, yeah it's just for fun. I'm going with another aviation buddy I met here at CWU and we're going to go spotting, fly the on planes, and go to In N Out! It'll be an experience for us because
I need to go to the west coast again. Unfortunately fares around my spring break are really high. I keep hoping they'll come down a bit and something will open up. If nothing else just for In-N-Out Five Guys just doesn't get the job done.

Proud Member Since 2003
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