First solo

20 September 2007, 21:12 CDT

First solo tonight. Wasn’t feeling 100%, but couldn’t decide if it was because I’m still sick or because of nerves, so I decided to just suck it up and go. We were scheduled for 12 touch-and-gos, and then for me to do 3 on my own. We did 4 and the instructor decided that was enough and took the plane in for a full stop where he got out and went up to the tower.

I taxied around the local news chopper who was warming up and then out to runway 22 and did another run-up. Called up the tower and they told me to hold short. Switched the transponder back to standby because the checklist said not to switch it to active until I was ready for takeoff. Mis-heard my pattern clearance as “left closed traffic” because thats what we’ve been doing so much. The tower was being nice and giving me right traffic to help me avoid the hot air balloon north of the field. Except, we usually don’t fly right traffic, so I had basically no ground references except the field itself, which turned out to be mostly fine.

The first two touch-and-gos I thought were fine. Called the tower for a full stop, and they said the instructor wanted me to do another touch-and-go. Pretty much botched that attempt, was way left of center after crossing over the numbers and ended up touching down pretty hard. In retrospect, I probably should have gone around.

Called up the tower on the downwind for a real full stop this time, and was given clearance to land. Then I hear “Bolton tower, Cessna one-six-niner-four-echo midfield touch and go”. The guy who called the tower was actually flying 9547W. I was flying 94E. After a few seconds, the tower asked him “Uhm, did you mean four-seven-whiskey?” Yes, he did, but for a few seconds I wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately the KTZR tower guys are great and very forgiving of student pilots. I managed to make the 4th landing, but bounced it a little bit after coming down too hard.

Turned off the runway and told the tower I was clear of the active and he gave me clearance to taxi. Cleaning up (FCTL), I realized the transponder mistake. Taxied back to the ramp and managed to park dead center on the T. The instructor cut my shirt, and we got to put 0.5 solo hours in my logbook. I flew the plane by myself! Many years ago as a kid watching the F4s scream overhead in and out of Wright Pat, I wanted to fly. And now I’m well on my way to actually becoming a pilot.

Another 9 landings and 1.7 hours in the book.

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