1st Solo

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 the runway.

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 approach.

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.

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