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Thread: Remember the Day you Solo'ed? Share Your Memory With Us

  1. #1
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Remember the Day you Solo'ed? Share Your Memory With Us

    Remember the day you solo’ed? I do. It will be a day I’ll never forget. March 11,1983, for me.

    It was a nice day in Newton, Kansas. I drove out to the airport, which lies a few miles east of the Newton Airport, KEWK. It was another windy Kansas day but it was early, around 8:00 a.m. I had done the ground school on my own, as I was just finishing medical school and didn’t have the time or money to take a ground school course at a flight school. I elected to buy a Gleim book and go through it carefully and study out of another book, the name of which I cannot recall. I was rich on being ready to learn to fly, but poor on the finances to do so.

    I had identified the Newton airport as a place to learn, given that it was only 12 miles from our farm and Hesston College had a flight school there, and they would let outsiders, so to speak, take flying lessons from their staff. Hesston College was a Mennonite junior college, and the aviation program was aimed at training pilots who would later become missionaries. I was assigned to a tall, skinny young man named George Hofsommer. George wanted to be a missionary someday and he had his CFI. Always wore a big 10 gallon cowboy hat, wore cowboy boots which made him even taller. He was a calm fellow, a slow talker and had a winning smile.

    We had flown 8 hours of duel and it was amazing how different the ground looked from 3000 feet. Shoot, I knew that area really well from the vantage point of a Chevy pickup truck, but it was easy to become disoriented when I became airborne. George, of course, knew exactly where we were and it was really nice having a relatively mellow person sitting in the right seat. We didn’t have headsets, and it was a Cessna 150 in which we flew. The Cessna 172s looked pretty darned big to me, and I couldn’t imagine flying one of those big beasts.
    The session started out with the usual preflight briefing and the preflight inspection of the 150, with George watching me do the inspection. We hopped in, fastened our seatbelts, started the engine and before I knew it we were airborne, doing couple of landings with taxi-backs, pretty much staying in the pattern. After 3 or 4 of these George said he needed to “take a leak” and I taxied the aircraft to the Hesston College building and prepared to shut down the engine. “No, leave it running, Randy, I’ll be just a minute,” as he opened the door and let his 6’4” frame out of the cockpit.

    Before he shut the door he shouted “Randy, take the aircraft out and do 3 takeoffs and landings, just like you just did.” “I’ll wait here and when you are back taxi back here and we’ll talk.” Well, his words didn’t really sink in till he closed the door. I knew a solo was in the near future, but I wasn’t so sure that I was ready. My heart began to race a bit, I became pretty danged thirsty and I opened the throttle to taxi to the end of the runway.

    I remember calling out a traffic advisory, did the mandatory 360 degree turn, took runway 36 and lined up with the center line. Full power. Gentle liftoff, climbed to pattern altitude, called out my position, completed the prescribed takeoff and landings without incident. I remember thinking how strange it was to be in that little cockpit without George over there, and I recall that the world looked a whole lot different without him there. It was actually a pretty calm feeling.

    I landed, taxied to the ramp and there was George, leaning up against another aircraft, smiling as I shut down the engine. I remember just sitting there for a few moments, letting what just happened to me sink in a bit. I was glad that George gave me that time to “debrief”.

    I remember thinking about how different it felt to be in the airplane from that point forward. I certainly had a different perspective of things when I was solo in and airplane, but also a different perspective of my flight instructor. Kind of a strange, but necessary transition.

    George came over and asked me if I would be able to go home and bring back a tee shirt, and I said I surely could. I was back to the airport in 30 minutes and he continued the age old tradition of taking a scissors and cut the back of my tee shirt, making room for the wings I had just sprouted. He then asked me to draw something on the front of the shirt, put that day’s date, March 11, 1983, on the shirt and George signed it.

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    That will be a day I will never forget.

    Randy
    Last edited by WindOnHisNose; 03-12-2017 at 10:26 AM.

  2. #2
    SJ's Avatar
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    "We had flown 8 hours of duel"

    Sometimes the student instructor relationship is like that...

    Great post, Randy!

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------
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  3. #3
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    "We had flown 8 hours of duel"

    Sometimes the student instructor relationship is like that...

    Great post, Randy!

    sj
    Now THAT was a Freudian slip...



    Randy
    Likes mike mcs repair liked this post

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    Baltimore Airpark in June of 1971. I was not a natural pilot and found the PA28 a challenge for the first 5-6 hours. My instructor seemed NOT to be on my side but finally at 7.2 hours it clicked. He told me to stay in the pattern. Everything was normal until I looked at the empty right seat on downwind and I had a twinge of fear but it went away. First landing was the best I had ever done. The next two were bad. I flew with him one more time and he signed me off for the local area. I flew several more times and was finally having fun. I made dual XC with him and then a solo one and decided I might make it so I joined the APG Flying Club.( I had a $5 coupon for that first flight in the PA28 and in a way wasted most of my time in it but of coarse didn't know it then) Started all over with the C150. Took almost 3 hours to readjust to it. Took my PP check ride @ 52 hours with John Reed at Laurel, Del. and didn't land the airplane on my check ride. Went on to the C172, T41B, O1D Bird dog and Beech C35. Then got really dump and bought a C120, dumb because I was flying the O1D for $11 wet and had it to myself..... Then I fell into bad company at Aldino and bought a Pitts S1C, then Spezio Tu-holer, PA16 and Starduster Too.

    Then life got complicated and I sold out didn't fly again for 23 years. Got the bug after we moved to WV and started flying a friends J5A about 10 years ago. Bought a EAA Biplane but wasn't happy with it. But it had a good engine which I put in a Tu-holer project which I finished in 2011. I like building and picked-up a Acroduster 2 project that I flew on 14 Dec, 2015.

    Jack

    PS I agree on the "duel" with my first instructor, may he RIP.
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  5. #5
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    landing at King Salmon, and Cecil the instructor starts yelling go around.. and i'm like what? were fine... and we were, he just realized i hadn't done any grounds yet and wanted me to practice one... i had 4 1/2 hours, maybe 5 dual... then he he told the tower guys i was soloing next takeoff and jumped out.... uneventful take off... then on radio " mark air XXX jet calls in, sh1t... tower says land after them i said no thanks, I'm just gonna fly around out here a bit..... i din't know much from my 2 day crash corse, but that thing on following big planes in stuck in my head.... landed uneventfully a few minutes later... i think he signed me off after that day.... never did get my license, got my 40 hours in never took test... we had 2 planes & instructors on payroll so it never cost me a penny.... just wasn't my thing.... I did buy a tripacer that was laying upside down in the middle of the port moller runway, I had $2012 in my checking account, and offered him 2000 & we'd not charge him for the trip to go pick him up from there..... patched it up and windy brought it back... my duct tape i brought was no good.... luckily the cannery had some at $15 a roll, we did half a wing worth... bears everywhere.... was not a calm walk to cannery and back.....

  6. #6
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    I don't have a picture on my computer, but i solo'd on my 16 birthday. We were supposed to go to maine for the weekend where my mom was going to meet us, and we took off and my dad told me to land, and he hopped out. I didn't know it but my whole family was at the terminal watching. After lunch we drove to the RMV where i got my learners permit to drive. Still couldn't drive my self to the airport to fly by my self. Got my license when i was 17 and its been downhill sense
    Thanks SteveE thanked for this post

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    I don't remember much about my first solo way back in 1984 with about 8 hours under my belt. I do remember my instructor specifically saying that it would fly a lot lighter without his 135# bony ass in the back of the super cub. He was right. He wasn't thrilled when I did 4 or 5 t&g's instead of his instructed 3 but he got over it I guess.

    What I do remember in great detail was my second solo; the next day. We did a dual cross country from Miles City to Billings. My first tower experience. He hopped out on that hot May morning and said, take it around a couple of times. Back in those days runway 35 or 36 was still around and the wind was out of the north. On that runway you are about 900 feet AGL over the city and once you cross the rim-rocks you are at about 9 inches AGL without changing altitude. I was nervous, it was a new perspective for me. Just as the tail is starting to settle down nicely on that hot pavement I start to ground loop. With tires a squealing I head for the left runway lights, I got it so much under control that I then head for the right runway lights, tires still a squealing. Repeat process back to the left then back to the right when the hopping starts, oh this is new....An eternity and several more arcs later I realize that if I add power I can fly it off and away from the scary tarmac that is making my plane make those horrible sounds. It works, I get air born. A brief second later tower comes on with just one long drawn out word. "Whew!"

    The tower operator gives me about 10 seconds to get my act together, then politely asks (as I recall without using my N number): "would you like to try that again."

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    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Hondo Texas. 1972. T-41 Mescalero.
    Eddie Foy
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God"
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    November 1967. Brand new C150. My instructor who weighed at least 230 got out and then walked back to remind me that "without my fat a$$ in this airplane it's going to climb like a homesick angel". I didn't realize I was alone until I was on downwind.

    Funny, I can't remember the first student I solo'd and that was only 15 years ago, not 50.

    Rich

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    180Marty's Avatar
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    I started lessons in the PA16 Clipper that Steve Pierce now owns in Sheldon Iowa. My Dad was spraying out of there for the summer and bought the Clipper for my cousin and me. First part of August it was time for Dad to go back home to Virginia to spray so both planes got back to VA. I was good enough to solo in August but my 16th birthday wasn't until Sept 30. Eventually my instructor and his airport partner came out to Chase City VA to go deer hunting and one afternoon in early Nov I solo'd( I had the airport all to myself). Never flew that plane again----Dad was always going to get Pappy Ellis out of Emporia VA to teach me but it never happened. Eventually I solo'd two more times at Sheldon. once in a 90 hp Supercub and the last time I finished getting my licence in a PA 12 that I owned when I was about 21 yrs old.

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    Snert's Avatar
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    1st Solo July 30 1974 Tomahawk WI. Age 16
    I didn't look over at the empty right seat. I pretended my instructor was still there.
    Thanks SteveE thanked for this post

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    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Feb 23, 1975 in my T-Craft BC-12D. Juneau, Ak. Earlier that winter I had bought the plane from Bill Dean there in Juneau, with the intent of learning to fly. Oh yeah - it sure climbed better solo with those 75 ponies! Those big kite wings and tailwheel had my first instructor somewhat intimidated and he begged off after two lessons. Then Steve Hewitt took over and was great to work with - very skillful and patient.
    Gordon

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    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    June 5th, 1971. I still have the champ. One year later PP check ride in a Citabria, two weeks later multi engine rating in a C-310Q. Three days after that uncle sugar shipped me out for six years.

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    supercub's Avatar
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    Dec. 26, 1965 the day before my 16th birthday. I think I had about 40 hours or so. My instructor was my dads best friend who owned a flight school. I had been taking lesson off and on since I was 11 years old. The fog had been terrible keeping everything grounded for days. It finally lifted enough late in the day before my birthday to do some pattern work. My instructor said, "we better do this today, because tomorrow we might not be able to". So with that, he jumped out and I did 3 take off and landings as I remember. On my solo certificate he signed it off on my birthday, however in the upper corner he put a minus 1. He also said, don't tell anyone, which we didn't except my folks. A couple years later I had my first flight in a tail dragger, which was my check out. A 1967 Citabria, a different instructor, old school, his certificate number was #4022 my checkout consisted of 1 takeoff, doing some aerobatics, which he did, and one landing. I remember him saying, make sure you keep the stick back on landing, and that was my checkout, or lack of. Hardest part about flying the tailwheel was taxing the thing out to the runway LOL. I was lucky (and so was the instructor) I never lost it (ground looped), but when I think about it, I can't believe he ever did that, especially now that I've been an instructor for 45 plus years and yes including tailwheel airplanes.

  15. #15
    evroosevelt's Avatar
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    5 July 1956 with a grand total of 6 Hrs an 55 min. My Father and my instructor said it was time no matter what my mother said. Forgot to add 16 years old at Lakeport airport Lakeport NY which is no longer there.
    EV
    Last edited by evroosevelt; 03-11-2017 at 10:03 PM.

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    Tom3holer's Avatar
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    Aug. 23rd 1963, 4 days after I turned 16 due to wx, in a J3 from a grass strip called TewMac in Ma.
    N7485H was my steed and I will remember that day forever.
    Last edited by Tom3holer; 03-12-2017 at 09:46 AM.

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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    My CFI weighed 265 in the back of a 0200 Pa11. Imagine what that was like when he got out

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

  18. #18
    Snert's Avatar
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    More memorable than when I soloed was when I soloed my Mother
    July 19 1980
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  19. #19

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    June 10, 1973, 3 days after my 16th birthday, at 3m airport in Bristol, Pa in a Yankee AA1A. The only thing I remember about the flight was looking to the right on downwind to base and seeing an empty seat, that was pretty cool for a 16 yo that hadn't even driven a car yet. Bought my first airplane 6 mo later, 47 C-140, been broke ever since.

  20. #20
    PerryB's Avatar
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    February 16, 1978 in a Breezy.
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !
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  21. #21

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    Aipril,25 2001 Fargo ND C-150 same plane gave me my 1st engine failure couple weeks later on my first solo cross-country that sticks in my mind a little more.
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  22. #22

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    I had been hang gliding for 5 years, including a thermal flight to 15,000ft and having a 737 go under me. Dad bought a Champ to extend my lifespan. After 5 hours my instructor thought I was ready, I wasn't so sure. He prevailed by offering to hide behind a hangar at the far end so no one would be watching! All went well, and I thought I was a taildragger pilot until I flew a J-3 to finish up. Those bungees are much harder to land smoothly than oleos.
    What's a go-around?

  23. #23

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    1986 In my dads J3 which I now own. Ishpeming, MI after My instructor and I landed from a lesson, my mom and Grandma showed up.....Frank, my instructor, got out and away I went. Made 3 greaser landings and when I got out Roger, one of the airport bums, came over to from his hangar and saw my Levi's pocket was ripped so he gave it a yank and my whole pant leg came off! It's still hanging somewhere at the airport I think. Complete with date, name and "on this day" type crap.

  24. #24
    Cub Special Ed's Avatar
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    1st solo was nothing unusual. 1st tw solo was another story. My dad and I flew out to a farm in my uncles -11 to work on a guys aghusky the day after my tw endorsement. I hounded dad to let my fly while he was working. I finaly wore him down. It took me bout an hour to get it started after I flooded it. I was so week at one time the prop kicked back and got my knee. Finaly got it goin and slithered into the seat. First two wheelers were nice. 3d was a 3pt. As the tail touched it hit a gopher hole and popped back up and I was headed for the fence along the grass strip. I hauled back on the stick and got on the binders. Skull cap ended up about a foot from the fence. I got out, pulled it away from fence, taxied in, and I was done. To this day im glad the hanger was at the opposite end of the runway so my dad didnt see it. I probably still wouldnt be able to sit down if he had. After all that, 15 yrs later, im still flying an -11.
    "There are 3 kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." Will Rogers

  25. #25
    S2D's Avatar
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    June 1974.
    Miles City, MT
    C-150 with about 6 hrs time

    Called Left Base for 30 and a commuter airline Twin Otter called Right Base 30 (not legal),
    but he was bigger than I was so I gave way and went around. Other than that it was uneventful.
    Never mind, its not worth it !!!

  26. #26
    Cub Special Ed's Avatar
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    S2d, dont mention my story to dad. He can still kick my rear. Only advantage I have now is I think I can out run him.
    "There are 3 kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." Will Rogers
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  27. #27
    S2D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cub Special Ed View Post
    S2d, dont mention my story to dad. He can stil kick my rear. Only advantage I have now is I think I can ut run him.
    Don't he own a computer ?
    Never mind, its not worth it !!!
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  28. #28
    Cub Special Ed's Avatar
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    Yes but hes not a social person which is good. Took him a long time to find out what the shimmy was in tailwheel after that. He found the problem just not the source.
    "There are 3 kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." Will Rogers
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  29. #29

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    First solo was in my Dad's Pietenpol Aircamper. It was pretty uneventful since I had been trying to fly it in some capacity since I was about 5 years old. A friend/instructor of my Dad's checked me out and put about 2hrs of dual instruction in my log book. That raised some questions with the examiner on my private pilot check ride... The more exciting story was taking the Pietenpol on my long cross country a couple weeks later.


  30. #30
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Remember the Day you Solo'ed? Share Your Memory With Us

    Nothing special about the day other than it must have been a normal go up to the airport for a flight lesson day. Went around the pattern probably 3 or 4 times and then John (instructor) said pull up here for a second. He opened the door to get out and I'm wondering what is he checking on? He looks at me and says I haven't touched the controls, I'm getting out, go around once and then come inside. So I did. Wasn't a big deal other than when my dad found out I bested his solo sign off by .2 hours.

    The PPL was a bit more memorable. Flew over on a last minute thing to get it done before driving off to college that afternoon. Didn't bring the e6b, chart or much of anything....just figured it was a flight exam. Old timer laughed, lent me the tools to plan a trip, gave me a flight test and pretty much the only thing he added was "I know your used to landing on the farm, but at normal airports you don't need to drag it in quite so much". And that was that.

    I've been a lot more excited flying other days than either of those two events.


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  31. #31
    NC2252M's Avatar
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    February 11th 1985. I bought this Cub when I was 16 and I am still flying her today. I have flown a lot of different planes but there is nothing like your first. My wife just did her first tail wheel solo in it on this past Christmas day in the old girl.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using SuperCub.Org mobile app

  32. #32
    TulBiplane's Avatar
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    January 5th, 1974. A week after my 14th birthday. Yes, that is a stocking cap in my hand. Harvey Young Airport, in Tulsa, OK. Bill Watson was my initial instructor and Jim Rhine finished me up.
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    June 5th, 1988. First Stearman solo. I think I was more nervous about this event that when I was 14 years old, flying the glider. Bartlesville, OK. My Dad was my instructor. At this point in my life, I had a Commercial, Multi, Instrument and hundreds of hours of simple TW time. Yet his comments as he was leaving the cockpit went something like. "The winds are light and down the runway. Take it around the patch. If you bounce the landing, don't try to save it, just go around and try it again. You have plenty of fuel. Oh yeah.....if you break it, you just bought it." LOL. Wonderful memories that are etched in my mind.
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    Yes, I had a very blessed childhood.
    - Brad

  33. #33

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    Summer of 1964
    Pa12- 0290d2
    Pearsall Tx
    5.7hr
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  34. #34
    C130jake's Avatar
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    Aug 79 CAP solo encampment University of Minnesota Waseca. 16 yrs old. C150 without working flaps.

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  35. #35
    n40ff's Avatar
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    Brad's Stearman experience mirrors the first flight in my Pitts S1C. No choice but to get in an go. My mentor said the same thing as Brad's dad, you have a full tank so if you mess-up approach or bounce the landing, go around.......good advice after 1 hour or many.
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  36. #36

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    My "first" solo was in a TH-55 helicopter, back in 1978. My IP was Harry Rotowalt, who we called "Rotorwash" – but not to his face! Mr. Rotowalt was a somewhat older gentleman. To a bunch of 20-year old kids, he seemed to be about 85 years old, and was about 85 lbs of solid gristle and bone – probably one of the toughest old coots I ever met! Anyway, after about 10 hours of dual time in the TH-55, we were at the Hanchey stage field just outside Ft Rucker, Alabama. We landed a bit early for the usual student exchange, and I just assumed he was fed up with me, because nothing I did that day was good enough for him. Then he surprised me by unbuckling his seat belt, turning to me, and yelling over the engine/rotor noise: "Well, you've been trying to kill me all day, so I'm out of here! Now go do three circuits and come back here. And try not to kill yourself!" Then he started to back out of the cockpit, but leaned back in, looked me in the eye and said "You've got this!" and walked away. It was the first (and probably only) time he gave me even a hint that he thought I might make a pilot, LOL...

    I remember being more surprised at the lateral CG change with his scrawny butt not in that left seat (helicopters typically are flown from the right seat) than I was about any dramatic increase in performance. I did three good patterns each ending with a nice soft landing, and hovered back over to pick him up. He climbed back in, and uttered the only comment I would ever get from him about my solo flight: "Get out, it's the next guy's turn!" Crusty old coot!

    My most vivid memory of Mr. Rotowalt, however, was the day he was flying with one of our bigger student pilots (and ex-football player), and the guy froze on the pedals during a practice autorotation. Mr. Rotowalt shoved that left pedal so hard that it actually broke off the cast-aluminum pedal. To this day, I have no idea how that 85-lb old man managed to overpower a 200-lb ex-football player on those pedals, using only the "stub" left over when the pedal broke off, but he did and they landed (barely) safely. Mr. Rotowalt looked even older after that flight, and the football jock got to ride home on the bus that day...

    My "second" solo was at Ft Ord, CA (KOAR - now Marina Municipal since they closed the base). I had joined the Ft Ord Flying Club to pursue fixed-wing flying after returning from a tour in Korea. The club had a couple of Grumman Tigers in the rental fleet that I really liked, and rented for training most of the time. My instructor was Jack Tetrick (COL, USAF, retired). Truly a great instructor and an even better guy. We'd flown about 5-6 hours together, and landed at Watsonville where we did a couple of full-stop landings and a go-around. The next time we landed, he said "Drop me off over at the FBO and go fly this thing around the pattern for a while. Do 3-4 circuits and then come get me." No biggie, since this wasn't my "real" first solo... Like everyone else, I was pretty impressed with the climb performance without Jack on board, but I swear I could hear his voice in my head as I flew the first pattern and did a great landing (one of the best I'd ever done), taxied back and took off for round 2.

    Everything was great, and as I flared to land, I could hear Jack's voice in my ear: "Keep that nose up - hold it - hold it..." and then I was slow enough that the elevator could not keep it in the air any longer. Instead of the usual slight 'chirp' as the nose wheel touched down, I heard a horrible "grinding" noise as the nose dropped considerably lower than normal. I was afraid the nose gear was collapsing, so I killed the engine (mixture off, throttle ICO, mags off) as the airplane came to a screeching halt right in the middle of the runway. As I was exiting the aircraft (which was definitely sitting nose-low), I could see Jack running toward me, followed by 3-4 other guys from the FBO building. I climbed down off the wing, and I could see that the nose wheel was sitting at about a 45-degree angle to the fork. Seems the mechanic back at Ft Ord had replaced the nose tire, and forgotten to put the cotter key in the axle bolt. The bolt was also installed backwards, and instead of the wheel rotation tending to "tighten" the bolt, it was slowly loosening the nut, which finally came off. The bolt apparently had backed out just enough to allow the wheel to twist in the fork, and the side-load broke the welds that held it to the axle. We could not budge it. The "locals" from the EAA chapter brought out a little red wagon, and we lifted the nose and set it in the wagon bed so we could clear the runway. Jack has his wife come get us to take us back to Ft Ord so my wife would not get upset, and the mechanic drove over with a new wheel/tire/bolt/axle/cotter-pin to fix the plane. In all the excitement, we completely forgot that it was my first solo, until well after the event...

    To this day, I check the security of landing gear bolts before every flight!
    Jim Parker
    '65 Champion 7ECA - Flying
    ?? Bearhawk Patrol - Building
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    SteveE's Avatar
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    JumParker. Back in 1954, I was born at Ft Ord.


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    I soloed in a gyro this week.




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    Remember the Day you Solo'ed? Share Your Memory With Us

    Quote Originally Posted by JimParker256 View Post
    ...we were at the Hanchey stage field just outside Ft Rucker, Alabama.
    Jim, I've got a ton of time out of Hanchey!

    When I went through, you "soloed" with your stick buddy in the left seat. We'd get to the airfield (TH-67s), do a couple of patterns and the IP would hop out, your stick buddy would move from the back seat to the left seat, and you'd do 3 patterns and that was that.

    The first time I was ever truly alone in an aircraft was when I was flying my airplane from Soldotna to Lake Hood right after I bought it. Once I got airborne and on course I settled in and it hit me that I had never been truly solo before! Kind of a neat feeling.
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  40. #40
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    9/13/68 - Tulsa North Airport
    C-150 N22924
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