Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In a word......SOLO !

I have been working on dealing with this perma grin that has been stuck on my face like the joker's smile on the old batman series (showing my age). Not even a problem with my Airport contract can take this smile off today.

After calling 40N AWOS, PTW and ILG ASOS for the latest and greatest weather I loaded up my flight gear and headed to N99. I decided to take the back way in this morning, which provides a good look at that windsock. Hmmmm....winds indeed are from the east and how nice that sleepy windsock can barely lift itself up to acknowledge airport activity.

Did I mention I was at the airport 30 minutes early? , yes got there early and mentally landed my Benz SUV a couple dozen times at least. I walked out to do my preflight taking special notice of each and every aircraft parked neatly in their rows and met a nice gentleman who commented on what a nice morning to fly as he performed his preflight. I said good morning and then voiced my agreement. He then asked where I was off to.......I quickly answered off to SOLO I hope! He wished me luck and it felt good. My CFI joins me and follows me around checking as I finish up and buckle in for today’s flight.

I taxi out to runway 9 this morning which is a first to me. Hmmm right hand traffic pattern and I'm thinking I'll need to look for my visual guides but in reverse. Bill decided that I should do a few T&G's. I listen to the aircraft ahead of me call out a back taxi on runway 9 as I move to the hold short for my run up (I was the last in line). As I watch the other aircraft take off I announce my back taxi and then soon follow with my departure to remain in pattern. Three T&G's later my CFI decided to have me let him out at the terminal. He asked if I felt ready and I said yes, still wondering why my knees weren't knocking yet. Bill exited the aircraft and once he was clear I taxied into position. I made my announcements which I thought sounded different for the first time. I felt confident and ready to have some fun. I talked myself through each step (out loud of course) and as I passed each taxiway noting "clear”.

Throttle full and I am under she is off in no time and I find myself holding a slight nose down to maintain climb out at 80 knts. Ok 1200 feet and turning cross wind everything felt great. I continued through the pattern with no problems maintaining ALT and going through the steps. Landing one was very smooth on center, felt great. Landing two was a bit early on the flair, but I had good airspeed and held it off to settle in for a nice landing. On my last go round my pattern was even cleaner hitting my visual marks and really soaking up the feeling of doing this on my own. What really threw me was how settled I was, not even nervous, collected and ready for my final landing I was over the numbers moved slightly left of center and brought it back and set 2746C down. I taxied back to parking and finished my checklists. Bill was walking over as I shut down and reached in to shake my hand and pass along congrats. The owner of the school walked over too and said congrats and remarked the aircraft can even go back out......we all laughed and I thanked them both for the use of the aircraft and Bill for getting me to this point.

After securing the aircraft I only had to lock the door and I noticed my hands were now shaking as I struggled to get the key in.......Bill said NOW it hits you? LOL....I guess, I just realized that something I wanted since I was a boy, that dream of flying came true. Life is good! Thanks to Mary my super supportive bride and Bill my CFI for keeping me to task.

I had company in spirit today. I know my Pop was there in the right seat with the same S&*% eatin' grin that I had. It will be eight years in April he is gone and I miss him as much today as the day he passed. Thanks to my parents support and guidance growing up and making me the man I am and to believe in myself that I can acheive any goal that I work hard enough or dedicate myself to obtain.


RF said...

How cool Gary! Congrats!!! I saw your post on the AOPA forums of all places and had to come over here and congratulate you.

Gary said...