I remember my first solo like it happened yesterday, yet it was well over 12 years ago now. It was in a Cessna 152, an ugly brown one - well, at least that's how it appeared to the majority of non-aviators. However, she was the most beautiful plane in the world to me.
I was so driven and determined to become a Pilot as a child and teenager growing up, that I actually took to the skies solo for the first time at the youngest legal age (in Australia), on my 16th birthday. The weather wasn't the greatest, but sure enough, after one 'warm up' circuit with my instructor, I was off!
Getting to this point required a plan of action, and lots of hard work. To be honest, creating a plan and mapping out the steps to achieve solo flight is the easy part; and that's what I'm here to explain to you today. The hard part, however, is the hours of study, and the work required to save up enough money to afford the flying lessons.
So before we go any further, ask yourself, are you determined enough to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal? Because no one else in the world will do the work for you, you have to do it yourself!
Having said that, nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. To achieve what other can't, you have to be willing to do what other won't. This includes a lot of hard work!
So what are the steps involved in achieving the goal of flying an aircraft all by yourself?
Do your research, and find the best flying school in your area with a good reputation. Ask around and you'll easily find this information. You are looking for well maintained, reliable aircraft, as well as a high quality of instruction.
Once you have found the best flying school in your area, you'll want to contact them and make a booking for a Trial Introductory Flight (TIF). This is usually a 45 minute flight with a flying instructor who will take you up flying, show you the ropes, and actually let you fly the plane. That's right, YOU get to fly a plane!
If you enjoy it, and you don't succumb to motion sickness, it's time to take the next step - actually learning how to fly.
Flying an aircraft isn't as hard as it sounds, you can actually achieve proficiency in flying (at a first solo level) in under 10 hours. Some people are naturally talented at flying, and they can achieve this in even less time! I once heard of a pilot who went from absolutely zero flying experience, to flying solo in only 6 hours!
During this stage you'll go flying with a flight instructor for a series of flying lessons, these include straight and level, climbing and descending, banking, stalling, and of course circuits to practice your takeoffs and landings.
During this stage I highly recommend practicing at home on Microsoft Flight Simulator on your home PC. While it is not completely accurate, 99% of the people who practiced with Microsoft Flight Simulator said that it helped them significantly during training.
Once you have flown enough circuits with your flying instructor, and mastered the art of taking-off and landing, you'll be handed the keys for your first solo. On the day of your first solo you'll usually fly a few 'warm up' circuits initially to get your eye in, then your instructor will step out and leave you to it.
And there you have it, you have now flown an aircraft solo and you can officially call yourself a Pilot! Congratulations!
-- Stay tuned for the next blog in this series:
How to obtain your Private Pilot Licence (PPL)