Monday, January 19, 2009

yoohoo!! MY First Solo

Col Pandey and Self After the solo . background M1 X-Air Microlight Aircraft at Gaya International Airport with Runway lights On.
The First Step

Yoohooo!!! That’s what I yelled when I took my first turn for the crosswind leg during my first solo. The feeling is yet to sink in that I’ve done my first solo flight on a microlight aircraft. This means that I actually took the aircraft up in the sky solo and after completing a ‘circuit’ got the aircraft back and landed safely.
It was a remarkable experience and one of a very unique, rare and exceptional kind. I did it on the 15 Jan 2009 at 1730 h and the day also happens to be the Army Day which makes the occasion even more special. On 14th Jan , our instructor Lt Col A K Pandey told me that I was flying well , and if I could be consistent the next day also , he would consider me for a solo on the 16th.
On the 15th at morning, I didn’t fly well at all had some problems in landings. So I thought it were still few days that I would get my solo. At morning, Col Pandey taught me some emergency procedures and the morning session was called off. At around 1635h he flew me again and took me to Gaya International Airport. There we flew few circuits and he gave me few landing practices and checked my reactions for emergency landings. I had not the slightest bit of hint that I would be getting the most extraordinary experience of my life soon.
It was already getting dark and even the runway lights had come on. Col Pandey then asked me if I would be able to do my solo then. I answered in affirmative and he asked me the same question me a no of times to which my answer was the same. Then he told me that if I could make the next landing good enough then he would send me.
As soon as we landed he said that I was going and asked me to backtrack till the threshold. Then he got down and passed me a few instructions on the radio.
Now I was on my own and it suddenly struck me that I would be up there alone. I had dreamt of this day since a long time and now here was it. I was cleared to takeoff and I gave full throttle and started rolling on the runway. It was a great feeling. I remembered the takeoff procedure and did it. Before I could realise I was up in the air and was cruising at 250 Ft. Then I heard Col Pandey’s voice on the radio and he asked me to keep reporting on the radio. I was doing fine and was gaining height. At 300 Ft , I cut throttle to the required value and told him that I was turning left for the crosswind leg. As the aircraft was now lighter with only one person on board, I was gaining height quicker than I had ever experienced. I cut throttle to make suitable adjustments. Now I realised that I was there all alone and actually doing it myself. It was a great feeling. Soon I turned left for the downwind leg and aligned myself with the given landmark.
Col Pandey then asked me if I was enjoying myself and I said yes which I indeed was.
Then I leveled out at 500 ft and bingo all my parameters were doing perfectly fine. I gave an “All Ops Normal” report on the radio. I saw the point where I did the emergency landing. I kept going ahead maintaing all my parameters. The winds were absolutely calm and I was very comfortable.
Then Col Pandey reminded me of the landmarks which I was not to cross. I acknowledged , gave a call for ‘turning base’ and again turned left for the base leg. Thereafter I cut throttle to lose height to prepare myself for the descent. Then I gave a call for ‘turning finals for runway two eight ’and aligned myself with the runway and took left. Now the most difficult part of landing was ahead of me and I was not going to mess it up at any cost. I cut the throttle to the required value and maintained required heights at the various landmarks. All the time I was repeating and maintaing speed -­ ball – centre line of the aircraft. Thereafter I started focusing on the landing and carried out the landing. It was a ‘good’ landing as Col Pandey later put it. Thereafter I forgot to cut throttle to zero and Col Pandey reminded me of the same. Then as I was backtracking, he asked me to stop and turn off ignition there itself. I did the same and saw Col Pandey, Col Kaushik and Maj Ranjeev coming towards me. I got down from the aircraft and Col Pandey congratulated me and gave me a bear hug. It was the greatest feeling I had felt in a long time. Then other Officers also congratulated me and I was shivering out of excitement. It was an extraordinary and incredible feeling. I had finally done it. I wasn’t able to contain it and was feeling on top of the world.
It would not have been possible without the constant encouragement and support from my instructor and other course officers. I thank them all and as I write this , my heart is full of gratitude for Col Pandey who took all the efforts to train me to get me to some basic standard in flying.

I wish all of us Happy Landings.

I dedicate my First Solo to
Col Pandey for being the most patient and wonderful instructor and a great and splendid person.
Maj Ranjeev for listening to all my silly doubts and clearing them at all odd times.
Col Kaushik for wishing well for me and encouraging me whenever I was down.
Lt Dinah for always removing any negativity from my mind.
The entire ground crew of AANC, Gaya for keeping the aircrafts in an excellent condition and always giving me small tips and advices.
My parents, relatives and friends for constantly praying and wishing for me.
Swr Avdhesh for being such a great support during the entire course.


Ranjeev said...

Congratulations Buddy. You are now part of the unique adventure pilots group, the Dare Devils. We were I think more happier than you as one more member has joined us. I could see the million dollar Smile coming on Col Pandeys face gradually as you kept going on the cct. And finally when you touched down He was too Happy - smile full throtle. Congratulations.
Ranjeev Singh

Dino said...

Congratulations again Sir! I read this today, after such a long time from when it happened, but i must say ur words make it seem as if it was yesterday and the reader can really feel the Solo-experince!! Thank-u Sir for the dedication.