Same old song, new singer by Greg Burkhart

After much advice, I finally got my landings acceptable and the CFI stepped out of the plane (at 0 feet AGL!) and told me to do a couple more touch and goes and come back in and pick him back up.

Now the details: It was another 100+ degree day here in Oklahoma City. I was supposed to solo Tuesday but I didn’t feel comfortable yet. It was slightly windy Tuesday and the thermals were throwing the plane around a bit but I made some decent landings and a couple bad ones so I felt that solo could wait until today. I just started using a different CFI last week and this was my 5th flight with him. I arrived at the airport at 4PM and met the CFI and he asked me if I was ready to solo yet. I told him that it depends on how I do. We left Wiley Post airport and headed to Page airport west of town. I have been doing touch and goes at Wiley Post, Page and Sundance airports in the area and have been alternating lately between Page and Sundance (both uncontrolled). We did a couple touch and goes that went ok (nothing spectacular, but survivable, better than the previous lesson) and he said the words “next time around do a full stop”. I said OK, I guess I’m ready. I pulled up at the FBO there and looked at my watch (5PM) and the Hobbs meter (something .2). I figured I’d use these numbers to write this solo story. Karl grabbed my medical certificate and logbook and scribbled some stuff in it and said “go do 2 more touch and goes then a full stop”. I asked him a couple last minute questions and he shut the door and off I went. I taxied back to 17L (which I had never used before) and took off, announced that I was turning right pattern for 17R T&G (I was the only plane around at the time) and came back in for the first T&G and landed fairly flat but fine. I took off and came in for the second landing and didn’t get aligned correctly and started ballooning and I said to myself “Going around”. I went around and thought to myself “what happens if I never do get another good landing and I’m stuck up here?”. I came in for the 3rd pass (2nd landing) and it worked ok. I went around the pattern for the last time and announced the full stop on 17R. The last landing I came in awful high but I got it down ok and had a good short field landing (not planned that way šŸ˜‰ ) and picked up the CFI and headed back to Wiley Post. The plane was supposed to be back for a 6PM rental so my CFI asked me to land long (never did that before – intentionally) to save some time taxiing. We put the plane away with about 5 minutes to spare and headed back to the FBO.

In the FBO my CFI asked me if I cared about the shirt I was wearing (I was expecting it so I was ready!) and said “No”. Out came the scissors and he start cutting off the back of the shirt. The 2 desk clerks there were watching and congratulated me, signed the shirt also. A couple other people recognized what was happening and came up to congratulate me also.

After looking at the logbook, I had 144 landings and 35.3 hours before solo. I’ve been reading other stories on here that others were soloing around 10-20 hours and I was getting disappointed. I was having major problems with the landings. To all those out there that are having the same problems, keep at it – it can be done! A lot of my help came from a different CFI.

Greg Burkhart