Saturday July 1st, 2000
Saturday I flew my first solo flight!
My instructor Dick Stephens (Aggie) and I had been doing touch & go
landings all morning at TKI (McKinney Municipal Airport) in the little
Cessna 150 that I have been flying. The winds were pretty calm and
Dick called the tower to tell them that we wanted to taxi to the
tower. He just got out of the plane and told me to do one take off
and landing. Now it hit me, he wouldn't be there to help me out if I
was having problems. I started getting a little nervous, so I took a
few deep breaths, went through all of the things that I needed to do
in my mind. And practiced what I was going to say to the tower (so I
wouldn't sound nervous).
"McKinney ground, this is Cessna seven-niner-two-niner-uniform on the
ramp in front of the tower, [request clearance to] taxi for takeoff."
After that, the nervousness went away. I had practiced this many
times. I knew what I had to do -- so I just did it. The taxi to the
runway was the longest taxi I had ever had. Dick was not there to
tell me to keep my nose on the center line or keep my speed down. And
there was nobody calling ground control (the frequency that I was
listening to) so it was just the sound of the engine keeping me company.
When I got to the runway, I called the tower: "McKinney tower, Cessna
seven-niner-two-niner-uniform, [at] runway one-seven [request
clearance to take off and] remain in the pattern."
"Cessna two-niner-uniform, hold short for landing traffic" the tower
replied. There were several planes setting up to land so I watched
them lining up. Then the tower told one of the landing planes to
extend his pattern so I could take off in between. "Cessna
two-niner-uniform, taxi into position and hold." So I moved my plane
to the middle of the runway. Then I hear "two-9-U cleared for take off."
I knew that I had a plane landing behind me, so I opened the throttle
without delay and started gaining speed. At 60 knots (69 mph) I
lifted the nose off of the ground and then climbed into the air.
Wow! The plane climbed really fast without Dick in the plane. I had
reached 1000 ft (414 ft above the ground) before I was at the end of
When I started my downwind leg, the tower told me that I was cleared
for a touch and go. I told the tower that I would like to do a
full-stop landing and he gave me clearance. Now all I had to do was
fly my normal landing pattern and look out for other aircraft.
Opposite my point of landing I added carburetor heat, pulled the
throttle back to 1600 RPM, and trimmed my airspeed to 70 knots. Made a
30 degree left bank, added 20 degrees of flaps, and adjusted my
airspeed to 60 knots (landing speed). I was looking good for final
Well, it wasn't the prettiest landing I had ever made, but it was OK,
safe, and it was ALL MINE. WHEW! When I pulled in to park the plane,
Dick greeted me with a big smile and a handshake. We talked about the
flight and filled out my logbook and Dick said that he was going to
cut "a little bit off of my shirt tail" as a tradition for a first
solo flight. Well, he cut out the WHOLE BACK! and said that I would
get it back when I got my private pilot license. This was all very
cool and I was just elated that I had landed that plane on my own, I
took Dick out to BBQ (missing shirt back and all).
It was definitely an experience that I will never forget.