Yesterday was 3.1 hours of an oral exam. This morning, I flew from my home airport to another as a Student Pilot solo. Several hours later, I flew back to my home airport as a Private Pilot solo. The first of many certificates: complete. The last week leading up to this, particularly the last four days, has been grueling. But achieving this first milestone is worth every bit of effort I’ve put into it from day one. Onward and upward.
Weather last night started out gusty but decided to cooperate and provide a great night for yet another first along my path toward my Private Pilot License... My first night cross country flight.
It was gorgeous! Flying along the coastline with the many and varied lights of civilization on one side, and the pitch black of the gulf on the other. It was interesting seeing those lights seemingly rushing to the waters' edge to an abrupt halt. And here we were, trimmed out and floating along nearly effortlessly with the hum of the plane in the background. (Thank you noise cancelling headset. LOL!) It's a very peaceful feeling; time seemingly slowing so you can admire all that is around you.
I got to speak to three air traffic control towers, five total controllers. I swear the second guy's day job was an auctioneer with a heavy, southern disposition. We got a chuckle listening to him expertly manage all the air traffic surrounding five fairly busy airports in overlapping air space.
Last night was also another first. March, six years ago, I headed out on a second date with a man who had instantaneously captured my heart. It was a night flight along the coast with a stop for dinner midway. Last night he got to join me for the first time and we darn near flew over where we had dinner on our second date. We kept our reflectings on the past to a minimum to spare my flight instructor the gitty-couple walk down memory lane. 😉 But the drive home, our discussion focused on those fond beginnings and the wonderful journey we have had together so far. Aviation was always a passion of mine, but when my eyesight dropped below 20/20 in middle school, I put that dream on a shelf. Little did I know this wonderful man would not only mentor my son in his aviation dreams, but when my son encouraged me that I didn't have to live vicariously through him, he has been my biggest cheerleader. Sure wish we thought of getting a picture but I think both of us were on "Cloud 9".
What a wonderful night! Tonight was my first night flight; part of the night flight training required for my Private Pilot License. I truly expected for it to be more challenging but it only took a little visual adjustment. The hardest part was trying to read the checklist in the plane with such low light. LOL! Climbing out from the runway, the lights extending in all directions... it was beautiful. I thought locating airports at night would be harder. I had tried in the past before any flight training (years ago on a flight) and didn’t do so well. I guess now I’m more acclimated to what to look for. Ten landings later and we headed back to my home airport.
Tonight was such a neat experience. I can’t wait for tomorrow night. Weather permitting, I will be doing a night cross country. That too should be beautiful; gliding along the coastline, water on one side of me and the twinkling lights of civilization on the other.
You are never too old to chase a childhood dream.
Photo: Preflight done. Nighttime settling in. About to pull the plane out of the hanger for my first night flight.
Yesterday was another milestone for me... the most flight time in one day. I did my long cross-country solo in the morning, took a 2 hour lunch, then had a flight lesson in the afternoon. All-in-all, 0.2 shy of 5 hours of total flight time. That doesn’t count going over my flight plan or any pre-brief and debrief time. What a day... I was “wiped” by the end of it all. But you couldn’t “wipe” the grin off my face.
This is a bit out of chronological order but I didn’t know this photo was taken until recently. On 15 December 2020, my son achieved his Private Pilot License. The reason I didn’t know about the photo was that I was about 45 minutes away taking my first flight lesson toward my Private Pilot. So 15 December will always be an aviation celebration day in our home. I’m so proud of my boy... who has grown into quite the young man.
Finally got some pictures commemorating my first solo flight and the cutting of my shirt tail.