First Solo XC Literature

Have you taken a real-life flight lately? Tell us about it.

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First Solo XC Literature

Post by frogdude4993 » 23 Jan 2010, 04:31

This is my personal narrative for my high school portfolio. It's entirely true so I thought some of you might enjoy the read as a trip report.

Keep this in mind: I tried to keep exaggeration and factual deviation as low as possible, but there are a few spots that I twisted so non-pilots would understand better. So don't think I taxi with my flaps down or taxi without talking to ground etc.

Title: For Pilots Only
"6-6-Whiskey cleared for takeoff". Air traffic control had just instructed me to begin my first voyage as a pilot. It was my first solo cross-country and I was flying to Lexington, alone for the first time. I throttled forward and slipped my aircraft into the sky. A right turn after takeoff placed me directly on course.

I'm 16 years old and since I've been able to walk I've wanted to fly. My dream is to become a real pilot- the type who go to bed in a different city every night, live life in the air, and can take one glance at a fellow pilot and deem themselves aerial brothers. Flight lessons are the first step in making that dream come true. The first big milestone in flight lessons is your first solo, that’s the first time you will fly with no one else in the plane. I had done this after seven hours of experience, this is shorter than the length of a day at my school. The second milestone is your solo cross-country, which you fly alone in the plane to a destination miles away from your home. This is the flight that became a rite of passage.

The weather at my departure airport in Louisville was miserable, gray overcast with intermittent light rain at a chilly 40 degrees. However ten minutes and 25 nautical miles later the clouds turned white and dissipated letting sunlight break through, revealing the potential for a gorgeous day. The view from my left window displayed a weak line of cars and trucks traveling down Interstate-64 at a speed lower than mine. And I don’t even have my drivers license. Not long after, I heard "6-6-Whiskey contact Lexington Approach 120.1" from the control center, giving me rights into Lexington's airspace and making me one step closer to beautiful Blue Grass Regional Airport.

Many people think pilots fly for the thrill, the scenery, or for the girls. My reasons are quite different and unexplainable. For example, receiving instructions from air traffic control is among my favorite aspects of the drill. Being cleared to takeoff or land for most people is a cliché, a small line to say interchangeably before or after completing an everyday task. For me, a clearance to land or takeoff is what I hear from every airport of the city I'm visiting. No flight is complete without that clearance, and I simply can't get enough of hearing it.

"6-6-Whiskey, cleared to land, runway 22. Wind 1-9-0 at six". There it is, verbal proof of my arrival. I have a runway in front of me, the ground below me, and a commercial jet flying 50-some paying passengers behind me. Bumps and wind attempt to decrease my level of concentration, and fail. "Aim point. Airspeed" I said to myself as I guided the aircraft down to kiss rubber to concrete. Strobes off, transponder off, fuel pump off. It’s the same checklist that completes every landing as I taxi onward, yet recited in an airport I'm visiting for the first time. I wonder to myself if this is how the real pilots feel, in a different place doing the exact same thing.

The weather was perfect. While cold and rainy in Louisville, it was warm and sunny in Lexington. I could fly for less than an hour and transform the mood the sky puts me in. Such a dramatic change in atmosphere caused me to shed the hefty coat from my back and slip on my sunglasses before walking to the common rendezvous point of any airport, the Executive Aviation Pilot Lounge.

Every pilot lounge is nice. They're always renovated with comfy sofas, wide screens, and snacks. The lounges are another aspect of flying I exalt. This is where the real pilots hang out in between flights, and they expressed confusion as to why I was there. “You waiting for a flight bud? I think you’re in the wrong place. This terminal is for pilots only.” They were more embarrassed than me once I explain to them I'm a pilot in training. The recognition is noticeable as their tone goes from condescending to welcoming. I practically became one of them as we chatted about the very thing we all were certain to have in common as pilots.

After an hour of chowing down on cheap airport food and enjoying a Bengal’s game with my new friends, I decided it was time to go home. While sitting in the plane going through my checklists, Air Traffic Control gave me a call warning me of a larger aircraft that will be passing me on the right. As the white glossy paint crossed my line of sight I saw in the cockpit two of the pilots I had met in the lounge waving at me. I smiled and waved back before starting my engine and filing in behind them en route to the edge of the runway.

Before I left Louisville I was filled with uncertainty and wonder about the flying community. I wanted to be in the ‘club’, but knew I wasn't. Sitting in that pilot lounge talking with pilots who've been aviators for years helped me realize something. Whether you’re flying as a career or fun or training, it doesn’t matter. You’re flying, so you’re an aviator and you’re in the ‘club’.

While taxiing along it became clear. I am rolling with the big dogs. I am at a real airport, in a real plane, surrounded by real people. There’s no doubt about it now. I am a real pilot. I heard the engines of the massive jet just feet in front of me spool up and roar, spitting out the fuzzy fluidic heat distortion from the aft of the explosive reaction. It lifted off into the sky and out of view. I turned the strobes on, transponder on, and fuel pump on, and prepared to hear my favorite words:

“6-6-Whiskey, cleared for takeoff.”


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Re: First Solo XC Literature

Post by DMM200 » 23 Jan 2010, 06:11

Really nice paper there Decker! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Fraser Jeffery for the beautiful avatar!
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Re: First Solo XC Literature

Post by caps1237 » 23 Jan 2010, 06:59

Awesome writeup Deck, that's a real good piece.

PS I'd save that for some future college application considerations. Work in a few lines here and there. :winking: :laugh:
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Re: First Solo XC Literature

Post by Delta320 » 27 Jan 2010, 21:55

Great writeup!
Huge thanks to David Malinowski for this amazing banner!

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