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Monday, August 29, 2005 

Jandakot Tower, Sending Student for First Solo

It was six in the morning, as I was eating breakfast, I was cursing the planner for putting me up for an eight o'clock sortie on a day forecasted for bad weather. Especially since it would be my first solo check. If the instructor is happy, he'll send me up for my first solo. I'm at sortie 109 (after ten hours of flight time).

Marched my way to the Operations Room, and saw the engineers had recently finished signing my designated aircraft out. Flipping through the maintenance forms, was a small note, "rough running in circuits, no solos". Cursing my bad luck again, I managed to swap my plane with another cadet who had to cancel his flight due to low clouds in the training area.

At exactly eight o'clock my instructor arrived. I've already prepped and checked the plane. He hurriedly got in and we taxied to the runway, clearances recieved, and we took off. The circuit was quite busy this morning as the sun was out despite the forecasted bad weather. Several "touch-&-go"s later, my instructor still wasn't fully pleased with my slightly flat landings. I was letting the nose wheel touch down way too fast after the mains touched down. Thinking that this isn't my day, I forgot about going for a solo and "just flew the damn plane". After the fourth try, he radioed in to the control tower "Sierra Yankee Hotel, mid-downwind, fullstop, sending student for his first solo". Elated at hearing that, I didn't really hear all the advice he was giving me. My mind was just going through what I had to do, and that I'll be alone in the plane in a circuit with some six other aircrafts buzzing around.

I dropped him off beside the runway. Turned back, got my clearances to take off, and just as I was rolling down the runway, the control tower radioed in saying the crosswind is max 12 knots (students are usually rated at 10 knots initially and first solos are supposed to be at nil crosswind). I've landed with my instructor at 14 knots before, so I felt confident that I could land the plane. Took off, and did all the drills, without the instructor next to me, I suddenly felt it ever the more important to go through all the drills properly.

On finals, the plane was being pushed off course, I was under-compensating for the crosswinds. I was a hundred feet too low on the final approach, adjusted my power, readjusted my attitude. I heard the control tower scolded the plane in front of me on the runway for getting off the runway too slowly. Clearance to land given at five hundred feet high. I finally managed to get the plane sorted out just before the runway, three hundred feet to touchdown. "Aimpoint, centerline, airspeed" kept going on and on in my mind. Over the threshold, idled the power, pitched back the plane, felt the sink, then I heard the satisfying sound of the main gears touching down, followed (too soon though) by the nose wheel touching down. Got off the runway with a congratulations from the control tower on my first solo. Got back to college safely. Operations was all abuzz with congratulations for a 12 knot crosswind landing. Apparently the winds picked up even more to 15 knots and a lot of flights got cancelled.

Got a congratulations from my instructor and a reminder that I shouldn't be so gung ho next time.


Inside of a Cessna 172, cadets sit on the left.
(pic courtesy of unknown senior)

Date : 29 August 2005
Time : 0100 - 0120 UTC
Aircraft: VH-SYH (Cessna 172)
Pilot in Command (PIC): Zan

your "just flew the damn plane" turned out to be a blessing in disguise, aye?

Yeah, after I gave up trying to get the perfect flight, I actually flew better. less stress I suppose

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