My first solo flight, 6th October 2005.
To be honest this wasn’t my first solo flight. I had been flying gliders for 5 years, so solo flying wasn’t something new for me. However, this was my first solo flight in a military aircraft and it takes a lot more to solo at the RDAF flying school than it takes to solo in a gliding club…
The day started with rather thick fog in the early morning hours, yet the meteorologists promised better weather as the day would progress. Apart from thick fog, we started the day with the written exam in Dash-1, which is basically the aircraft opertaing manual. In order to fly solo, one has to pass this exam with an 85% pass mark, so we had all been studying hard during the week. Together with another guy who also had the glider pilot’s license, we were the first 2 on the team to go for our solo check, so we had mixed feelings. We had heard many rumors about solo-checks, but we didn’t really know what to expect.
In order not to waste time waiting for the fog to get burned away, the class had a few lessons in Navigation and in Meteorolgy. Then it was on to briefing with our assigned instructor. He told me what he expected from me during the flight and briefed the flight in chronological order, which I had to perform later on in the same sequence. In the mean time we got the Dash-1 exam results and I got 100%, so that wasn’t going to stop me from flying solo. The ‘only’ thing left now was the solo-check.
I did my walk around as usual and sat in the aircraft and prepared myself for the check.
After about an hour of flying with the flight completed, I landed the aircraft and the instructor asked: “So GEA, do you dare to fly solo?”
“Do you dare to send me solo?” I continued.
“You bet your ass I do,” he said.
So we taxied in and the instructor got out and wished me luck. The mechanic authorized the aircraft and I started my checks in order to get the aircraft going. I started the engine and called the control tower for clearance: “Karup Tower, Baby 65 taxi.”
I taxied out, took off and as soon as I was airborne and climbing, I screamed of joy. It was a great feeling. I did a nice landing pattern and finished off with a good landing. The air traffic controller called me and congratulated me on the radio.
I taxied in and saw the guys waiting for me near the hangar doing waves with their hands. I parked the aircraft, did my shut down checks and opened the canopy. The check-instructor congratulated me and gave me some local wild flowers to keep the tradition. Then I was carried out of the aircraft directly into the solo-BMW and driven away to the fire fighting water-tank. The tradition is to go directly from air to water without ever touching the ground. So they threw me in the water and it was bloody cold!
All that was left was a warm shower and debriefing with my check-pilot. After debriefing we headed to our quarters and as it was Thursday we got ready for the GFU meeting. I got baptised in beer (another tradition!) and it was very duisgusting indeed! What a day!
For more pictures of the solo-flight and flying school, click here.