It’s been a big day today. I turn 16, and am finally legally allowed to solo. After almost 70 hours of flight training, I’ve been waiting for this day since I started flying 4 years ago.
A Lucky Break
Before I take my first solo, I go up and do 3 patterns with my instructor in the aircraft. At the time, HPN was using runway 29 for patterns, while wind was 110@9. A direct tailwind. I told my instructor I wouldn’t be soloing with those winds, and we landed and exited the aircraft.
Before we landed, I asked the tower if they had plans to change runways. They gave no direct response, leaving me with a “stand by”.
With an hour left in the lesson slot, I dialed up the HPN ATIS number to learn they had just switched to runway 11 for patterns!
We quickly headed out, and did 3 more touch and goes before I dropped my instructor off at the ramp and was good to go.
As a solo pilot, I was not allowed to perform touch and goes. I was performing full stop & taxi back landings.
I was lucky to have my parents and sibling spectating for the big flight! A generous ramp worker was kind enough to get them (and my instructor) a golf cart to drive them to the edge of the ramp, right next to runway 11.
They spectated my solo and grabbed many amazing photos.
On to the photos!
I don’t have a GoPro so was unable to get photos of me in the aircraft, but as mentioned above my family was taking hundreds of photos throughout the flight.
Waiting for the all clear from my instructor. This was the scariest part… waiting on the ramp before departing.
I spent the time grabbing a few photos.
I still hadn’t truly processed that there wasn’t anyone next to me!
Past the point of no return! I lift off of runway 11.
I didn’t get any photos of the first pattern. Here’s me about to touch down for the second landing.
After a greaser of a landing, here I am heading back to 11 on taxiway Kilo for my final pattern.
After an uneventful departure, I’m back on a short final for runway 11. Don’t worry, this nose-down attitude is perfectly fine.
After the final landing complete, it was time to head back to the ramp.
With the golf cart serving as a follow me car, I parked and got out of the aircraft, greeted by my instructor and family.
Yes, I blurred myself and my instructor out. My self confidence isn’t quite there yet…
Here’s the logbook entry! I couldn’t crop it much more so there’s some extra stuff below it.
I’ve been waiting for this day for so long, and it’s finally here. I’m so fortunate that I have a supportive family and flight school that are here to help.
Honestly, this wasn’t as terrifying as I expected. Once I was on the runway, the adrenaline kicked in and I was just focused. Didn’t think about a single other thing.
Now that I’m safe and sound on the ground, the mental exhaustion has hit me and I’m able to just relax.
I’m heading back up solo on Wednesday, so I have that to look forward to as well!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. It’s been an eventful day and I’m so ecstatic that this all worked out.
Being able to solo on my birthday is something I’ll hold on to for ever.
Questions are welcome!