The First Time

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Pablo Edronkin

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All pilots fly on their own for the first time one time, and the first solo flight is always like having your first girlfriend, something that you will never forget and will carry a very special meaning for you the rest of your life.

The first solo flight usually takes place while you are still a student pilot and as part of the whole training process. It is a very significant step in the instruction of a future aviatior because it works as a testimony or proof for each student that undergoes it that he (or she) has what it takes. Until that moment every student goes up always with the help of an instructor and of course, even these solo flights are calculated in a way that the instructor and school authorities feel safe about the fate of both the student pilot and the plane; in other words, they are designed to be easy flights. However, sometimes things get a little fluid for many different reasons: When I did my first solo flight at Campo de Mayo Air Base near Buenos Aires, suddenly, as I took off with a PA-11, a wind shear crosswind literally erupted out of nowhere, reaching 18 knots at 30 degrees, board side. This is the same as ten knots at ninety, more than enough to take even a big plane out of a runway and I was there, hanging from a fabric-covered plane, and a taildragger! You bet that I paid a lot - really, a lot - of attention to the landing procedure. As I turned on final approach over the military hospital that lies near the runway I wondered "Well, at least I am close to it" but not for long because I was busy in turbulent air with capital letters.

It went good, but I didnīt venture again up in the air that day. But in a certain way I began feeling even more confident than other fellow pilots because I really had a troublesome situation up in the air. Perhaps this is not so good becaue it is easy to become over confident in your skill and that is the doorstep of trouble, but nevertheless, here I am and the plane is still there. I even had the immense fortune to be able to get for me and keep the plane in which I flew solo for the first time, but these days the tradition of solo flights seems to be fading away as insurance companies object to the practice and flight schools start complying with such demands to keep in business. The quantitative difference in flight time is negligible, of course, but quality is another matter.

You have to go up solo in some way or another, plain and simple; and once you pass that achievement you will remember those moments like your first love even if you did not fly by the numbers; it will be your best flight, for if remembering things it happens to you like it happened to me some time ago, when looking online on the web for some nautical information I found out the name of my first girfriend in the pages of a Norwegian sailing club (her father had a boat in northern Norway) and you feel like going again over the pages of the Malleum maleficarum, even so your first time will remain different to everything that life gave you thereafter because every flight is a poem, but the first one is your poem.

Flying is a science, an art and the result of sheer love for something that most people never see but it is nevertheless up there.
Flying is a science, an art and the result of sheer love for something that most people never see but it is nevertheless up there.

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