Plane & Pilot
Monday, May 11, 2009

Ticket To Ride II

Part II: Practice, practice, practice, home study, and what? Time to solo already? Gulp.

ticket to rideIn our April 2009 issue, Jim Lawrence launched the first in his series of articles about LSA training in a Flight Design CTLS. This month, he takes us through solo.
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And Now...Solo
Rolling off the active, we park at Premier Flight Center (, 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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