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I took the presolo knowledge test about a month ago, and my CFI said I've been ready for solo since then, but the winds here in central NJ have been very high and gusty for the last couple of weeks. No way you could even think of doing a first solo in those conditions. The flip side is that I got very good at dealing with winds and shear in the pattern and landing, so landing today in a light wind was almost too easy.
Things went down just like I've read in other people's writeups. We went up and did a few landings at a neighboring airport, then headed back to home base. After we landed my CFI basically said "So I'm going to get out now, you take it around the pattern and do 3 full stop landings, then park it by the fuel pumps. I'll be with you on the radio if you need me."
The 172 is nice and roomy without someone in the right seat
I was actually pretty surprised at how calm I was through the whole thing. I just did the same thing I always do when doing pattern work. There were some moments though where I got that strong "You're on your own now" feeling, and the distance beyond the pattern looked huge, like if somehow I strayed out of the pattern I'd be really screwed
Anyway, I just did what I'd been trained to do. Without my instructor with me I noticed I was scanning a lot more and had a much better idea who was in the pattern with me and where they were than normal. Kept talking myself through the pattern and approach like I do with an instructor with me. When I heard the wheels kiss the ground on that first landing it was the best feeling ever. Like "Holy shit I really just did that! 1 down 2 to go!"
second pattern and landing went fine, a little low turning base to final but no biggie.
Third landing was the best, had my aiming point in front the numbers nailed and rounded out right over the numbers. Flared and she floated along for a bit nose high before losing speed and stalling inches from the pavement. Had some nice airframe buffeting going as the wheels touched.
Taxing over to the pumps there was some other plane over nearby with its engine running. I remember thinking "It's not over yet, lets try to not shred the right wingtip as you taxi around this guy. Got her parked, shut down the engine and just sat there for a few seconds, listening to the gyros spinning down and soaking it all in. Patted the glareshield and thanked the plane for a nice ride.
They didn't cut my shirttail or anything, but there were lots of congrats at the FBO, and one pre-solo student who wanted to know everything about the flight. I had no problem telling him all about it
I soloed 38 years ago--and I still remember it as if it were yesterday (except I can't remember the tail number of the yellow 150 I soloed in--and I'm sure I remembered its tail number the day after!). But the details are still fresh--Fort Richardson, AK, a Beaver in the pattern (watch out for Beavers with retractable skis--lots of wake turbulence for a SE airplane), and instead of 3, I did only 2, because I had to get out and take a pee, which I did in full view of the tower! Oh well, definitely not the last time I've had to do that before I could get to a proper potty.
Congrats! 38 years from now, you'll still remember yours--and hopefully the memory won't be as embarrassing as mine.
Word of advice, enjoy what comes next. The solo cross-countries are the best. Before you know it, whether it takes a few weeks from this point (or in my case, over a year), you'll have your ticket. It goes real quick.
Right now all I'm looking forward to is some good weather on Thursday so I can do it again!
After this solo xc will will be the next goal and will probably be incredible. I had a Few moments on my downwind legs to look out the windows at the airspace beyond the pattern. It looked so huge, so dangerous, and so alluring.
At this point I've driven the car around a parking lot, but I haven't gone anywhere yet, that's next