Dan Smith

Flight Date:07/21/2016
Flight School:Discovery Aviation Academy
Flight Instructor:Alex Shea
Comment:I am a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and was one of the lucky few to be accepted for the Power Pilot Scholarship. I am currently undergoing training at Discovery Aviation Academy in Sudbury, Ontario. One morning, after a couple of weeks of intense training, I had a briefing with my instructor where he said to me, “I have good news and bad news. Good news is we’re going flying. Bad news is I’m going to jump out after a couple of circuits and you’ll be on your own.” Upon hearing this I was filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Excitement because this is one of the moments I’d been looking forward to most since I discovered my passion for aviation. Nervousness because this was it. I was going to be in complete command of the aircraft, where any mistakes made would not be corrected by the instructor. We went outside and I conducted a walk around of the aircraft (a Cessna 172 registered C-GNXM), then we hopped in and started her up. The dual circuits went extremely well. There was a light crosswind, but other than that it was a clear, great day for flying. After two circuits my instructor told me to make a full stop landing and drop him off on the apron. He got out and I taxied back to runway 22 for another circuit, all by myself. I lined up on the runway, conducted the line up checks, and pushed the throttle to full. As the engine roared and the airspeed came to life, I noticed that the takeoff roll was considerably shorter than it was with the instructor. I was at rotation speed in no time. The departure and crosswind legs went by without a hitch but I’m not going to lie, the only thought going through my head was something along the lines of “please don’t die, please don’t die”. I focused on flying the plane and remembering everything my instructor taught me. Once I was on downwind at circuit altitude, I made my radio call and conducted the downwind checks. Everything’s good! Once that was complete, I was finally able to relax. And that’s when it hit me… I was solo! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud to myself. This was the moment I’d been looking forward to for as long as I can remember! When I was abeam the end of the runway I began setting up for landing, just as I had done many times before with the instructor. Base, final… Altitude good, airspeed good, everything is going great! I knew in the back of my mind that something had to go wrong because everything else about this flight was better than it had ever been. Seconds from touch down I begin the flare, but I over pitched and ballooned. However, I knew not to panic and remembered what I was taught. I added a touch of power, got the aircraft stabilized, pulled power back to idle and set the plane down nice and gently. Of course upon arriving back to the ramp I received the classic landing criticisms from my fellow 15 hour wonder pilots who gathered to watch, but I was happy with it. After getting a picture in front of the plane I got a bucket of cold water dumped on me, which was quite refreshing on the hot summer day after getting out of a flying oven! Overall, I would have to say my first solo was something I’ll never forget. I’m so excited to be continuing on with my training and can’t wait to be a fully licensed private pilot!