Flight log

Hour 27: My second solo!

I completed my second solo on Saturday, December 23. In this solo, I completed two circuits, which included one touch-and-go. Unlike my first solo, I performed much better landings than my shocking #1 solo landing. Hour 27 was also interesting for its weather. During the pre-solo check, there was rain, making the solo impossible. But the rain cleared towards the end of the check, so Greg suggested I could go ahead with the solo if I wanted. Of course, I did!

My second solo. Two circuits with no instructor in the right seat!

Today, I completed my second solo, almost a week and a half after my first. This was a little unexpected because it had been over a week since my solo #1 (bad weather, again), and I was concerned that my skills had regressed. But I travelled to Camden with an open mind and a goal to perform flawless circuits (as much as possible), regardless of whether a solo would ensue.

The weather, as always, played an important role. My flight was set for 2 pm, the latest flight I have had. I always avoided late afternoon flights because the weather at Camden becomes hostile to flight lessons, with higher winds and gusts than morning flights. But unlike in the early days, I feel more confident to deal with such conditions now.

Greg was my CFI for this lesson. He would decide if my second solo was possible based on my performance and the weather.

Let's see what happened.

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Weather

Here's what BOM shows for the weather of Saturday, December 23:

Select Dynamic field

The weather for Hour 27 was good. During the actual flight, there was a small shower around the airport, which cleared later; this allowed me to go ahead with the second solo.

For the Hour 27 flight (solo), ATIS reported this:

Information Golf: Runway 06, Wind 040° 12 kt, Visibility greater than 10 Km, Clouds scattered 4500, QNH 1009, 26°C.

What is the second solo?

The second solo is very similar to the first one, except that:

1. The student completes two circuits (instead of one). The solo includes one touch-and-go.

2. Because the student does a more extended solo session, there is less time for the warm-up and various checks (like flapless approaches, engine failures, etc.). So, the pre-solo check consists of only one of each: normal approach, flapless approach, glide approach (simulated engine failure), and a final normal approach with a complete stop.

Everything has to go well in the pre-solo check because there isn't enough time to fix anything or have a 2nd try.

And today, everything went well.

Going for my second solo

The first solo was about completing a single circuit. Take off, land, celebrate.

The second solo is a repeat of the first solo, except that it is longer. The point of solo #2 is to practice what the student already knows but for longer.

As you will see, solo #3 is solo #1 but longer (complete three circuits and taxi to the hangar), and solo #4 is like solo #1 but for an entire hour and door-to-door (i.e. from the hangar to the hangar).

After solo #1, I only thought a little about solo #2 because I was busy with work. Even on the morning of the flight, I was preoccupied with work tasks, and I almost forgot to pack my equipment, check batteries, etc., which are all the usual things I do before a flight. Being on a Saturday did not help.

So, unlike solo #1, I had a different pre-flight anticipation.

Psychology

Psychoogy is strange. I didn't feel any noticeable psychological stress for my first solo, even though I knew it was a super-important milestone in my journey to become a pilot.

For the second solo, though, I did feel an ever-slight amount of stress. Driving to Camden, I assessed my chances of flying solo as "slight" due to the weather. When I got there, the weather was still 50/50. It was raining when we started the flight, so the solo was out of the question.

And then, at the end of the pre-solo check portion of the lesson, The weather cleared, and Greg gave me the green light for a solo if I wanted it.

At that moment, I felt a bit of stress, which only lasted for a few seconds. After I stopped the plane at the runup bay so that Greg could get off, I was back in the "Pilot in command" mindset, which seemed to shield me from negative psychology. Greg reminded me of the task ahead (i.e. fly two circuits with one touch-and-go, then return to pick him up from the runup bay) and how to deal with typical contingencies (such as a go-around if I'm not established to land or the runway is occupied).

Or maybe I just remembered Spock's advice:

"Cadet Peter, ensure meticulous preparation: study weather, know your aircraft, and execute maneuvers with precision. Emotions must be secondary to logical decision-making. Adhere strictly to safety regulations and be prepared for all contingencies. Your focus, efficiency, and calm analysis are paramount. Prosper through logic and preparedness."

Pre-solo flight

Just like in my solo #1, the first part of this flight lesson was to go through the basic circuit patterns: normal, flapless and glide approaches. I completed those patterns well and got the checkmarks from Greg. The only obstacle now was the weather.

As I mentioned, this last obstacle was cleared at the last minute. There was no rain in the circuit any more, and the rain that had fallen earlier had not impacted the runway.

So, when Greg gave me the green light for a solo, I took it.

Let's do it!

My second solo

The second solo was similar to the first but with an additional circuit. Two circuits instead of one. This means double the time in the air as the pilot in command. One touch and go allowed me to practice that procedure solo, without instructor supervision.

Everything I did in this second solo was a copy of the first solo, as it should be. The only variable was a slightly strong headwind, which I didn't feel was making any real difference.

I was pleased with circuit one; I did it "by the book". Good altitude and airspeed control, tight spacing, good radio calls, BUMFISH, and feeling good throughout. Even the landing was very good.

The second circuit was almost a copy of the first, with one exception: at the start of the downwind leg of circuit two, for a brief moment, I reached 1500 ft. This happened while I was trimming and reducing power and preparing to radio for a complete stop. The important thing is that I noticed this discrepancy and fixed it within a few seconds, without compromising other parts of my downwind activities (radio call, BUMFISH and flying downwind within the altitude and speed tolerances).

Circuit two was also textbook, apart from the altitude issue early downwind. I did a nice landing and taxied to the runup bay to collect Greg and continue to the browser for refuelling.

What's coming up next?

My next scheduled flight lesson is on January 3. My next solo will include three circuits with two touch-and-goes if all goes well. In addition to the third circuit, I will taxi the plane back to the hangar.

After that, solo #4 will be an entire hour-long session with my solo from the hangar, in the air, and back to the hangar. At that point, I will have collected around two hours as Pilot In Command, working closer to the five hours needed for the RPL license.

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Full video of Hour 27.

Review for Hour 27.

Flight path from Flightradar24 for Hour 27, my second solo!

Flight path from Flightradar24 for Hour 27, Second pre-solo check.

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