Flight log

Hour 28: My third solo

On my first flight of the year, I completed my third solo. If the noon weather were just as good as in the morning, I would have been able to go out for the fourth solo, a door-to-door flight. I have no complaints, though; solo three was as exciting as solos one and two, just a bit longer, with two touch-and-goes and one full stop and taxi to the hangar.

My third solo. Three circuits with no instructor in the right seat!

It was January 3, and I had planned for an 8 am and a noon flight. Just before Christmas, my last flight was my second solo, and today, I was hoping for the third and maybe even fourth solo.

The third solo is very similar to the second, with two differences: I would complete three circuits and taxi the plane to the hangar instead of the run-up bay to pick up my instructor.

The fourth solo is like all previous solos with another two big differences: I would fly solo for the entire flight, which would be door-to-door. This means I would take the plane from the hangar, fly it, and return it to the hangar without instructor supervision.

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Weather

Here's what BOM shows for the weather of Wednesday, January 3, 2024:

Select Dynamic field

The weather for Hour 28 was very good. During the actual flight, there was very little turbulence, and the variable wind was too weak to cause any handling issues.

For the Hour 28 flight (pre-solo check and solo), ATIS reported this:

Information Alpha: Runway 06, Wind variable 5 kt, Visibility greater than 10 Km, Clouds few 1500, QNH 1017, 23°C.

This weather was much better than when I did my second solo.

What is the third solo?

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

1. The student completes three circuits. The solo includes two touch-and-goes and one full-stop landing.

2. After landing, the student must continue the solo, taxi the aeroplane to the hangar, park it and do the shutdown. The instructor will be waiting at the hangar.

With each solo, the student gradually increases his or her autonomy by taking one new step at a time, not making huge leaps (even though it does feel like huge leaps).

The fourth solo will be door-to-door, meaning the student will complete the entire flight without the instructor being in the cockpit. More about this in my next log page.

My third solo: normal yet exciting

In the first solo, I completed a single circuit. I took off, flew once around the airport, landed, and celebrated.

I completed two circuits around the airport in the second solo, landed, and celebrated.

In today's third solo, I completed three circuits around the airport, landed, parked, and returned to the school office to wait a few hours for my next flight. 

What was remarkable about my third solo was that it felt normal. Unlike the first and the second solos, the third solo felt like something I had done before, nothing special, yet it was exciting because it was just me and the plane, my plane!

In the third solo, I did not feel the overwhelming stress I experienced during the first twenty hours of training. Just like in Solo #1, I had a positive feeling that I was in control of the plane because I had practised this hundred of times before.

You might think practising anything hundreds or thousands of times would render the experience boring and repetitive. But I can conveniently say "no". Practising circuits over a hundred times allowed me to fly a relaxed solo #3. I think this amount of practice is the key to being safe in flying and enjoying it. 

The details

Like the previous solos, this one started with a pre-solo check. In the first part of the flight, Greg asked me to fly a normal, flapless, glide approach. This allowed me to practice and him to determine if I was safe and consistent enough to go solo.

In the circuit with us was a Cessna Caravan belonging to the Police doing some practice circuits, including a couple that were very low passes.

After completing these procedures adequately, we landed and parked at the run-up bay. Greg informed Tower that I'd be returning for solo circuits. He instructed me to complete three circuits (with two touch-and-goes and one full-stop) and exited the aeroplane. 

I then continued to the holding point Alpha, runway 06, to re-enter the circuit. Upon arriving at the holding point, I encountered a traffic jam. Several planes were ahead of me, so I had to wait patiently for each one to take off. This allowed me to review a few checklist items (and put my hat on).

When my turn came, I radioed that I was ready for solo circuits, got clearance for takeoff, and a few seconds later, I was in the air. I executed a copy/paste of my circuits from solo 2 and completed the three circuits in a few seconds.

It was sixteen minutes.

Sixteen amazing minutes, where everything was under control, within margins of 100 ft and 5 kt, with lots of spacing between other aircraft in the circuit, just as I like it and CASA requires. 

Solo #4?

After my third solo, I returned to the office to chill and wait for my mid-day flight. The plan was for the flight to be my fourth solo. This solo would be door-to-door, meaning I would do the entire flight without an instructor in the cockpit, including the pre-flight checks, startup and taxi.

I did the pre-flight (ground) check, set up my cameras, and settled in the cockpit. I got the latest ATIS, with information Charlie, which mentioned 6 kt winds from 050°. This was the same as in my earlier flight, except that the wind had settled in a direction almost completely into the runway.

Just as I was about to call the Ground to request clearances, all stations had a broadcast indicating new higher wind conditions. I requested and received clearances anyway and planned to check on ATIS at the runup bay.

Greg, monitoring me from outside the plane, suggested I radio Ground to ask for the crosswind conditions. So I called Ground and was told that the crosswind was now 8 kts, with maximums of 10 kts. 

Greg discussed this with Victor, and they decided the crosswind was too strong for a solo, so we cancelled the flight. I used my handheld radio to cancel my previous clearances and taxied the plane back to the hangar (parked on the grass parking).

As easy as quickly as that, a quick weather change resulted in a quick decision to cancel the flight. No fuss.

What's coming up next?

My next scheduled flight lesson is on Thursday next week. I'll be helping out with the Scouts flying camp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I moved my flight to accomodate.

If all goes well (I'm looking at you, weather!), I'll be doing a door-to-door solo flight. I can hardly wait!

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Full video of Hour 28.

Review for Hour 28.

Cancelled: My (would be) fourth solo.

Flight path from Flightradar24 for Hour 28, my third solo!

Flight path from Flightradar24 for Hour 28, third pre-solo check.

Traffic jam!

Full throttle!

Rotate!

Downwind for touch and go...

Turning final.

Over the threshold.

Parking.

A Police Cessna Caravan doing circuits with us.

More from Peter's flight log

Flight School

Hour 29: My fourth solo

Flight School

Hour 27: My second solo!
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