Flying Solo — Literally

(It only took 2 months for me to post this… I’ve been a bit slow as of late. But then, the last post being eight months ago should have made that fairly obvious.)

In March, the powers that be saw fit to allow me to fly an airplane solo. On March 10th, I soloed a Cessna 172SP through 3 full stop landings in Statesboro, GA (KTBR). At 21 hrs. I didn’t do a half bad job, especially considering that I had just come off a business trip from Mexico, was half sick (ears popping, coughing… you know… general funk), and hadn’t flown in quite some time. It wasn’t anywhere near as intimidating as I thought it might be. And, in many ways, it was actually a relief to have the cockpit all to myself. Instructors can actually be a distraction sometime — if you can believe that. I got a chance to make my own decisions; no one was there to tell me what to do. And, in a strange way, this made managing the cockpit much easier in my opinion. The whole experience was more tactile, more conscious, and well, “it’s all you or you’re dead.” I guess that’s just about enough reason right there to make sure you probe down deep in those brain cells, pay attention, and from the depths, grab the knowledge you’ve learned to date and put it to use. All in all, at the end of the solo flight, I had executed all the pattern flight and maneuvers within tolerance, did a fairly decent job on my radio communication, and had a nice, leisurely flight back to Savannah’s Class C airport (KSAV).

Since my solo flight I’ve put another 12 hours of solo time in the logbook and completed my cross country flights. I need a minimum of 10 hours of solo (and more dual, with an instructor) before I can take my written and get my FAA check ride — the final test to getting my private pilot’s license.

A few of these solo flights were quite routine — go to an outlying airport, run the traffic pattern, make 10 landings/take-offs or so in different configurations, and fly back to the home airport.

The last flight I took, however, I decided to make something a bit different. The weather was perfect. I grabbed my camera, some latitude/longitude coordinates, and hit the skies to take some aerial photos — photos of a couple of friend’s houses. One place (7 or so miles SW the airport) sits a 1/2 mile from a 1500 ft. tower with guy wires running out an 1/8th of mile, borders a very active Military Operations Area (Fort Stewart’s MOA) about a mile to the Northwest, has a 500 ft. tower in the back yard, and off to the West has a “tower farm” consisting of three, 1700 ft. transmission towers. I, personally, didn’t even think I’d get clearance from ATC to even head towards all this “madness” at the low altitudes I was requesting (1000 ft.), but to my amazement, I said everything they wanted to hear and they gave me clearance — even though I did get the old, “So… Where do you want to go?!? And what do you want to do there?!” thing — twice. But, after responding again, I guess I told them exactly what they wanted to hear. They nicely cleared me. I headed off, made my way around the antennas (looking over 2000 ft. at the first and seeing 500+ ft. of tower above the plane was reminding me to exercise the caution this area deserved), orbited the property and started snapping pictures. I had to circle the 1500 ft. tower to get a good angle out of the window — and fly the plane at the same time. I circled a few times in order to get some decent photos of the property. ATC was nice enough to vector other traffic away from me once I reported that I was on station. I hung out for 10-15 minutes and headed off North — to the next station (aka. my friend Eric’s place). Overall, a great time and a great flight. Flights are much more fun and interesting when you have a goal or destination in mind — that is, in contrast to just flying around and practicing things all the time.

This flying “stuff,” for lack of a better word right now, has giving me a new reason to actually add more entires to this “blog.” (Yes, I still hate that term and thankfully the general public is slowly killing it without me having to do anything. Yeah! Soon I’ll be able to just type the word “write.”) Ironic that I ‘write’ this at 35 thousand feet; I’m on my way back from another business trip that I had to take — this one to Bogotá, Columbia. Considering I had some hours to kill, it seemed as good a time as any to finally make a flying entry. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a while now. I’ve just not had the time. But, following the last entry (a long time ago), it seemed appropriate…

There’s quite the flying community out there and there’s lots I can learn from all of them. I hope to take my VFR Private’s to IFR as soon as I complete my ticket. I want to continue flying as often as I can throughout the rest of my life. Being able to fly (especially IFR) will open the “world of adventure” I’ve always so desired more than ever. Meg (the wife) and I can hop in an aircraft and hit all kinds of places in the States and the Bahamas.

I’ve added a new heading to the top menu where I’ll be attempting to start document my flights and progress… as time allows, of course… which, based on the recent past, won’t be too often. 😉 I also have a ton of pictures that I need to post. I guess I need to find the time to post them as well… Soon… Soon…

Over and out.

This entry was posted in Aviation, Ramblings.

2 Comments

  1. Babsy May 22, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    Kick ass Dave! That is so awesome. I can’t wait to hear more about future adventures.

  2. Kendall May 28, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    Fantastic! More photos please… aerial shots especially.

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