Rolling off the active, we park at Premier Flight Center (www.premierflightct.com
), our friendly home base on HFD. “Well, ready to solo?” Lampson asks. I look up at the sky. The black wall is much closer. “You know, I think I want to wait.” “Good call,” says Lampson.
Fifteen minutes later, the skies open. After an hour-long downpour, it’s time to kick the tires and light the fires. I’m a touch nervous but good to go. Lampson’s training has brought me to the point where I know I can handle the airplane well. I run through emergency procedures in my head just in case. And there’s that comforting BRS parachute knob just behind my elbow, if the worst should happen.
After run-up and control checks, I taxi to the threshold and make the call. “Brainard tower, light-sport 860 Lima Sierra ready for takeoff. Student pilot, first solo.” “Roger that, 60 Lima Sierra cleared for takeoff.”
No turning back now. I taxi out and pour the coal to the Rotax, lift off, climb to pattern altitude, enter the downwind, radio a request for the option of touch-and-go or full-stop and here we go.
Throttle back, 15 degrees of flaps, check descent rate. Onto base, looking good, then final...oh dang it, I’m high again! Then I hear my dad’s voice, like Obi Wan Kenobi in Luke’s cockpit: “Just fly the airplane.” I kick in a bit of right rudder and push left stick for a slip—God knows I’ve had enough practice with this maneuver—and in a few seconds, I’m white over red on the meatballs.
Up comes the ground...relax...relax...keep your speed up...ready to flare, there goes that tail to the right. “Right rudder...” whispers Lampson in my head, I ease the pedal in, line up is good and...touchdown. And pardon the brag, but it was a greaser. Yeah, baby!
[Stay tuned! In an upcoming issue, Jim Lawrence takes us through his big checkride day.]
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