4 Ways to Prepare For Your First Solo

4 Ways to Prepare For Your First Solo

The first solo! Every student pilot dreams of this day. Every non-pilot imagines what it would be like to be in full control of an airplane. From day one of your flight training, you begin working toward this momentous occasion. You study, you practice, you prepare. All so that when your flight instructor hops out on the ramp and tells you your going to go solo, you feel ready for the challenge! 

There are many feelings that go through your body when this day arrives,

  • Nervous
  • Scared
  • Excited
  • Happy

To name a few. But none of this is possible without proper preparation. Let’s explore some tips that will help you be confident and ready when your turn comes to be the Pilot In Command.

 

What will happen during your first solo? 

You may not know which day is going to be the day but you will have a good idea. You will have likely discussed it with your flight instructor as a possibility in the coming lessons. Prior to your first solo, you will be focusing on takeoff and landing procedures in the circuit. Your instructor will want to see that you can handle the various situations you are presented with and that you can consistently execute quality takeoffs and landings. Don’t worry, your instructor isn’t looking for perfection, just safety. Once satisfied, your instructor will ask for a full stop landing and have you taxi to the ramp. Here they will hop out of the aircraft and tell you it’s time, likely cracking a joke ensuring you bring the airplane back in one piece. All of your hard work from ground school to the flight training has been preparing you for this moment, trust your training! Now you will taxi out for just one circuit. That’s it, one lap around the track! YOU CAN DO IT!

Ground School Review

Before flying solo for the first time it is important to brush up on your ground school knowledge. Having a clear understanding of the CARs and other rules of the air as it pertains to your solo flight will give you the confidence to have a successful flight. Also spend some time reviewing basic weather including how wind, temperature, and pressure can affect your flight. 

Tip: On a cold day your airplane will perform better than on a warm day. Kick your instructor out and you are now lighter. This means on a cold day with no instructor on board your airplane is going to fly very well!

Practice your Procedures

This doesn’t mean getting in the airplane and flying. It means practice on the ground. Spend some time using visualization to review your procedures. Visualization is a tried and tested method of preparation for professional athletes and works for pilots too! Some of the things you should review include:

  • Emergency Procedures
  • Normal procedures for taxi, takeoff, and landing
  • Circuit procedures including abnormal situations such as runway changes or downwind extensions and go-arounds.

PSTAR Prep

If you haven’t already completed your PSTAR exam and obtained your student pilot permit you need to prioritize this. Spend the time studying the practice questions in the Study and Reference Guide or by completing an exam prep course such as the one offered by Level Flight. This exam focuses on the rules of the air as it relates to flying as a solo student pilot. Remember, once you complete your first solo your flight training will consist of a combination of dual and solo flights for the remainder of your training. Don’t just study to pass the exam, study to understand the material; that is what will make you a safe pilot.

Decision making

Remember being a pilot means making decisions. In preparation for your first solo flight think about some of the decisions you might need to make. One decision you might need to make is whether or not to actually land. Don’t feel pressured to land just because it is your first solo. If you have a reason to go-around then go around. Reasons include:

  • Wind shift
  • Traffic on the runway
  • Unstable approach, including not on speed, or configured for landing
  • Too high or too low
  • A bounce or a float too far down the runway
  • Or just a bad feeling

It’s much better to take the time to “reset” rather than trying to save a bad landing. 

Tip: The aircraft might float a bit more than you are used to since you are lighter without the instructor on board. This is one reason it is important to have a good stable approach, especially on a shorter runway. 

Celebrate Your Success

Every flight school has a different way to celebrate the first solo. Some dump a bucket of water over your head, others cut the back half of your shirt off (there’s a rich history with this one). Whatever it is, you can rest assured that you will be celebrated for accomplishing something very few actually do! Be proud of yourself, enjoy the moment, and get some rest because this is only the beginning of the rest of your flight training journey. 

If you are preparing for your first solo and you need some advice or PSTAR exam prep contact us at 403-483-2880 or fill out the online contact form below. You can also sign up directly for our $20 PSTAR exam prep course by following this link.

FAQs

No, solo means solo. Besides, even if you could, you just got rid of your instructor, you don’t need someone else talking your ear off while you are trying to land.

At the end of the day, it’s your call. Understand though that you will probably never feel 100% ready. This is your nerves talking. It’s actually a good thing because it means you are aware of what you are about to do, you are taking it seriously, and are focused on completing the task at hand. Trust in your training and in yourself.

Unfortunately not. We are not authorized to invigilate exams. These must be done in person at your flight school and monitored by an authorized person. We can however ensure you are fully prepared for the exam so you can ace it like a champ! Learn more about the PSTAR exam prep here.

Take Flight Now

Level Flight is Canada’s best online ground school. It is our mandate to provide higher quality, more engaging training for Canadian Student Pilots. If you are seeking the exhilarating freedom of flight for a hobby or with aspirations of a career in the skies, Level Flight offers the best ground school experience available. Sign up for our online learning platform now and discover the adventure that awaits you at Level Flight. 

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