Today’s the day! You have studied, prepared, and practiced. Now it’s Solo Day!
You have known this day was approaching but might not have known when. Your instructor might tell you beforehand that this is the day you will solo or it could come as a surprise. Either way, it will be an exciting day!
Most times, you will start solo day by taking off with your instructor and flying a couple approaches to landing. Just like a runner stretches before the long run, your instructor is getting you warmed up to fly by yourself. Once the instructor is satisfied that you are ready, you will land and the instructor will tell you what to expect next. The instructor will have a radio and will be able to talk to you as necessary while you solo. Now it’s time for the instructor to exit the plane.
You will taxi back to the runway, clear for traffic, and away you go! The first takeoff, pattern, and landing by yourself, you will be a little nervous. And then will come exhilaration! You have done it!! You are flying by yourself!
Once you complete your final pattern and land, you will taxi back and park the plane. Now it is time for some tradition and history. After your first solo, your instructor cuts off the back of your shirt. When you finish your license, you will get it back with a picture your instructor draws that represents your flying experience. Each one is unique and a great way to remember the first solo. Here is the explanation of the tradition:
“In American aviation lore, the traditional removal of a new pilot’s shirt tail is a sign of the instructor’s new confidence in his student after successful completion of the first solo flight. In the days of tandem trainers, the student sat in the front seat, with the instructor behind. As there were often no radios in these early days of aviation, the instructor would tug on the student pilot’s shirttail to get his attention, and then yell in his ear. A successful first solo flight is an indication that the student can fly without the instructor (“instructor-less” flight). Hence, there is no longer a need for the shirt tail, and it is cut off by the (often) proud instructor, and sometimes displayed as a trophy.” (First Solo Flight, 2015)
Today has been an amazing day! You will recount your experience for years to come. Your first solo is an experience you will never forget!
Solo Flight. (2015, October 19). Retrieved November 19, 2015, from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_solo_flight