1st SOLO NAVIGATION
It's already 2 days after the most amazing day I've had all year, and that is very understated given I've just fulfilled the first huge step in a life long dream.
I had no nerves and was really cool about the whole experience, right up until the sneaky instructor threw me a curved ball and told me check out the aircraft and taxi it round to the pumps. Not having done that before, I was really nervous! Funny, that. I know I've not flown solo away from the airfield but I have never got in on my own and started up and taxied somewhere!
Refuelling completed, and the 3 spitfires and tiger month departed later we completed two circuits with a go around and out hops my instructor, waving me off. I radioed "student G-xxxxx ready for departure", checked final for any approaching aircraft and as I rolled onto the runway the parachute caravan, radioed he was being cheeky and jumping in front of me... only at Headcorn!
And there I am, full power, 55knts and off and away .... relaxed & concentrating on my departure and climb out to 2300ft on a heading of 220 heading for Hailsham routing Rye & Ashford. A pure sense of happiness along with sunshine, freedom and the realisation i am actually doing something I first knew I wanted to do when I was 7 years old standing between the left and right seats in the cockpit of the jetliner taking us to our Spanish holiday.
There are many reasons its taken this long .... but none that dampen the elation I have as I climb up to 2800ft past Bewl Water & Heathfield and know Im clear of Gatwick Airspace and then make the left turn along the coast from Eastbourne to Rye... I'd just like this simulator to have a pause button so I can take it all in!
A few aircraft passed below me and across my flight path and made a small diviation for one so at least he knew I had seen him. I enjoy the view I maintain a good lookout (note to edit that the other way round in case my instructor reads it!) I note the time, make my turn and call overhead Rye. A min or so later another student does the same. This repeats itself again over Ashford, along with another two aircraft a little further out but making the their intentions clear. Frustratingly as, everyone else was behind me I couldn't see them and had to trust that they could see me. I had started my descent before Ashford and continued it to the MSA of 1800 approaching the deadside to allow for manoeuvring helicopters across the circuit and the Spitfires flying a right hand circuit compared GA flying the left hand circuit - I know - only at Headcorn, but luckily today I find my way into the circuit was clear and normal, right up until I was over the threshold.
Inevitably I was too fast, and too high and had left some power on.... after the first bounce I could and probably should have gone around and it was too late after the second bounce but I stuck it out and got her rolling on 3 wheels and stable. After I caught my breath and vacated the runway, I realised just how many spectators there were watching ... oh well... that's a how not to do it photo opportunity... lol
And that folks, will be a day and a flight I will never ever forget .... and just to put a cherry on it I took one of my exams and got 100%!
TOTAL: 36 Hrs, SOLO: 2h 38m, IMC: 36m, PPL:32h 46m