First Solo

Firstly, I hate selfies... and photos of me in general, but this is a moment I don't want to forget...

Sitting on the taxiway for the first time, in a plane by myself this whole "being a pilot" things suddenly feels quite real, particularly since I'm lined up behind BA's dove.

The day started off as any other lesson in the circuit, just a few normal touch and go's and we taxied back to the apron when my instructor hops out, engine still running, and suggests I do and do it again by myself.

Procedurally, it's exactly what I've just been doing, the only difference is my first radio call is prefixed "STUDENT", the aviation equivalent of "L" plates, warning ATC and other pilots that someone who doesn't really know what they're doing, or might not be quite as capable of dealing with unexpected changes, is taking to the skies.

The second thing you notice is that the plane takes off like a rocket with only one person on board, and my instructor was considerably lighter than me.

The second thing I noticed, is that shortly after takeoff, the door latch released itself - an interesting experience but there's two latches for a reason and it held securely as I turned into the crosswind leg and then downwind where I began my pre-landing checks a few short minutes after taking off.

The landing wasn't perfect, the approach started stable but was a little steep in the end, but I landed on the main gear first and not that far from the centre line with a cheerful "G-HG, Well Done, taxi to the end..." from the watchful eyes of ATC in the tower, surely glad that they could still use their runway and there wasn't a broken Tomahawk in the middle of it ;)

For the first time I'd flown a plane by myself... this genuinely feels like the biggest achievement of my life right now and a day I'll never forget.

I'll only fly this plane for a few more weeks, as it's nearing the end of it's useful life sadly. And, to be honest, it's not the greatest plane in the world (cosmetically it's seen better days) but it will always be a special one. G-BNHG thank you.

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