Hangar FlyingSolo Flight Relived
A Fledgling Flight Instructor Solos her First Student
By Torea Rodriguez
Well, the day came that I needed to solo my first student.
I made sure I covered all the material required by the FAA and my flight club. My student completed a Phase Check with a senior instructor and I got some good feedback. Of course we reviewed the weak areas, and then I was starting to run out of excuses.
See, what I now have experienced, is that sometimes its harder for the instructor to solo a student than for the student to solo!! In this particular case we had some weight and balance considerations. The Citabria is a tandem aircraft and without me in the back we needed to review CG. After all the calculations and preparations were made, I still had one hurdle to get over: finding the perfect day.
Well Sunday at our field turned out to be the perfect day. Winds were not crazy or all over the place, the sun was shining and it was a great day to be at the airport. The pattern was a bit busy, but my student has learned at a busy airport. So, I was going to give it the 3 consistent takeoffs and landings dual before I got out.
First pattern went off without a hitch. I didnt have to say or do anything for him to be consistent, safe and precise. Then the second pattern came and went with no problems. Then I started to get nervous. "Oh my, if he pulls this one off, I have to really get out!" I was sure there would be a problem or something I could use as an excuse for the third trip around the pattern. No such luck!
So, we told the tower we were dropping off an instructor. I signed the endorsements in his logbook, grabbed and loaded up the extra ballast stashed by the "instructor's bench" and sent him off for three more full-stop landings.
I had a handheld with me so I could hear him on the radio. He got cleared for takeoff and I was almost frozen. It's as if I held my breath for the entire pattern. Of course on this round he was #4 for landing. It was the longest virtual trip around the pattern ever! Then when I saw him come in to land, and he pulled off a great three-point tailwheel landing i was just elated.
I have not been so proud or happier about an accomplishment since my own solo experience. Needless to say, the other two patterns were just fine and we got to celebrate the event after tie-down. I, of course, was the beaming CFI.
I must say, that we are all some of the luckiest people on earth. Not only do we get the awesome thrill of flight, the great views, but such incredible and wonderful accomplishments to be celebrated.
I *love* my job as a CFI!
Torea is a member of the Santa Clara Valley 99s and a 2005 winner of the 99s Amelia Earhart Scholarship. We are very proud and lucky to have her as a member of our chapter.
reprinted with permission from the author.