In 1932 Amelia Earhart completed the first female cross Atlantic solo flight, landing in Derry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart#1932_transatlantic_solo_flight
Fifty seven years later, on January 11th. 1992, I completed my first solo flight at Dublin Airport. It is a memory that will stay with me always.
I was lucky enough to train at IONA National Airways flight school, which meant that most of my flying throughout my training was from Dublin Airport, an experience in itself!
This was the third time my solo flight had been scheduled, but due to adverse weather conditions, the previous two were cancelled, so it was finally happening today. On my way to the airport I sang loudly to a tape of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” http://youtu.be/U57sLy77SE8
Weather conditions were right. I was ready. This was my day.
The 30 odd hours of flying lessons, where on more than occasion, I swore I would never again sit in a small plane; the night classes at Iona flight school, followed by long hours of studying where I learned how the engine worked; aviation law; navigation and meteorology had brought me to this point. This was what it was all about.
After logging my flight plan, I headed out to my trusty Cessna 152, EI-BRO, with my foam pillow. The seats of a Cessna are not so easily adjusted for the vertically challenged!
Runway 11/29, the shortest and one of the oldest runways, is now closed to allow overspill aircraft parking. This runway will disappear under the new parallel runway 10/28 in due course.
I completed my pre-flight checks, checked the weather and got my instructions from the control tower and took off from runway 29 and practiced a few circuits, taking off, approaching and landing again, with the chief flying instructor, Ollie O’Neill.
Then it was time. We taxied on to the apron, Ollie got out.
I was on my own!
So what was it like? Short and intense!
My one thought was had I the radio mike switched off when I screamed YESSSSSS at the top of my lungs after a successful take off! And then it was time to do my pre landing checks and make contact with the tower again (the speaker was OFF!) to get permission to go around again. Three more circuits and it was over.
Words can’t describe it. Whatever it was, I had never felt it before. I had never experienced such a great accomplishment. 18 months after my first flight, I had finally soloed an airplane.
I could finally call myself a pilot.
I was now cleared to train solo at my leisure, with the next big challenge being the 5 hour cross country flight, (150nm flight with two intermediate full stop landings)
But my first Solo flight will always be the one that I remember most clearly, and days like today, the anniversary of my heroine’s big achievement, always bring me right back to my moment in time!