4. LESSON 35 - THE FIRST SOLO FLIGHT

Key points of attention:
  • Stay calm and enjoy the flight!
  • Keep a good lookout
  • Safety first

HOW IS YOUR TRAINING GOING SO FAR?
The goal of the basic training is not just to get you to your first solo flight. The goal is also to make a safe and skilled pilot of you, someone who is able to make the right decisions at the right time. During the previous lessons you have learned how to master the basic skills and “feel” what the glider is doing.

During the training you have:
  • Learned the basic skills to fly a glider safely
  • Learned to “feel” what the glider is doing
  • Combined theory with practice

What does “feeling what the glider is doing” mean? That is hard to describe. You use your whole body to feel what the glider does and what it wants to do in a particular situation. Your feet are loosely on the rudder pedals and you smoothly hold the control stick in between your thumb and forefinger. As humans, our sensory organs are evolved to support our bodies that move quite slowly and stay close to the ground. Gliders can achieve speeds and accelerations that easily excess those that our senses are used to deal with. Nevertheless when you take-off, you will feel it when the wings begin to lift the glider. In a turn you use your whole body to feel whether you are flying coordinated or not and how steep your turn is. You use a landmark on the horizon to stay on track. You may not have realized it yet, but you have already learned to react to what you feel and what you see. Keep in mind that the glider will of course never become part of your body and that it can still surprise you, no matter how experienced you are. If you want to be a safe pilot, you must fly regularly.

As soon as your flight instructor is confident that you are able to fly safely from take-off to landing and you can handle any eventualities that might happen along the way, he or she will let you fly alone for the first time. Usually a first solo flight is flown in good weather conditions. You will perform this flight in the same two-seater glider that you used for training. The rear seat is now empty, therefore the glider will be lighter; it climbs faster and the flight controls are a bit more responsive.

Your flight instructor will help you to prepare the glider for this flight. The rear seatbelts need to be fastened, the rear-canopy is being locked and, if necessary, the trimming weights need to be adjusted. Try to stay calm and take all the time you need to prepare for your first flight alone. Remember to look out for other traffic during the flight. When you are ready for departure: raise your thumbs up! 

There you go!

The last pre-flight briefing before the solo flight ...

... and then the first launch without a flight instructor.

Your first solo flight is a moment that you will never forget. All alone, without the help of your flight instructor in the big white glider ...

Your first solo landing. Concentration ... You did it!

Congratulations! Your first solo flight is the greatest achievement of your gliding career. You can do what people have dreamt of since the beginning of time.

You can fly!

THE FIRST STEP HAS BEEN TAKEN!
This lesson completes the basic training. But don’t throw this book away just yet! In your further training you will often repeat some of the lessons we’ve covered here. We would like to wish you all the best for the second part of your training.