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Feature Article: What to expect on your first solo

Solo preparation began on the first flight. Now, the FARs require specific paper work, study, and testing. Student skill and knowledge for the flight must meet safety requirements. The instructor will impose limits of visibility and wind conditions. The extent of the testing of FARs and aircraft knowledge will vary but FARs say the depth must be enough to determine competency. Airport and radio procedures must be covered for all anticipated solo situations. The words, "student pilot," now become part of the aircraft identification whenever the full aircraft identification is appropriate. i.e. "Cessna 6185K student pilot"

The day of possible solo is significant both to student and instructor. Psychological conditioning begins during the post flight discussions several flights before actual solo. The parameters of acceptable flying conditions is based primarily on safety considerations. This needs to be clearly understood by the student. Unsafe solo conditions turns the planned dual/solo lesson into a dual only. The teaching accountability of the flight instructor is exceeded in no other field and equaled in only a few.

The pre-solo discussion is used to confirm that all required papers are, if not completed, available. An oral review of the conditions requiring slow flight and the short approach should be included. The dual is limited by agreement. The instructor expects that the student will complete at least three safe landings and a go- around in the first half hour of closed traffic. If this is not accomplished then the remainder of the flight time will be to review or refine landing skills in dual. The reason for this is that extending the dual time beyond the half hour creates student fatigue that might jeopardize solo safety. One way to judge the intellectual and emotional load of a student on any pre-solo flight is to see if he can handle the landing process while conversing about some unrelated subject just as he would in an automobile. It's nice to know that the student has some capacity left for emergencies when the instructor gets out.

If all goes well, the student solo proceeds. The student is expected to make two touch and go's a full stop in solo flight. A go around does not count. The instructor will be in the tower to monitor the flight and advise ATC of the student's capability to handle an unexpected situation. On occasion, the instructor may authorize an extension of the solo flight.

Last Modified February 26, ©2021 TAGE.COM

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