Sarang Radhakrishnan solo'd today. Sarang is a student in our May 2010 Class. Congratulations Sarang!
Aviation has lots of tradition - usually based on rules that have long since been forgotten. In training, one of the main traditions is the celebration of the first solo. That first solo flight is really special - an event that will never be repeated twice in your life. It starts as a normal instruction flight. You perform a few circuits with the instructor sitting quietly beside you. You land and the instructor gets out and leaves you on your own for a circuit. The plane feels more responsive and quieter. There is more room. But mostly, it is the sense of accomplishment to have learned a new skill and to be able to actually fly - by yourself. The first solo is also a major milestone in your career. Its the day you really started to learn to fly.
There are many ways to celebrate the solo. One common tradition is to cut off the tail or back of the pilots shirt. Its an old tradition dating back to the days of tandem trainers and no intercoms. To get the students attention, the pilot would tug on the shirt and then yell. Once the student went solo, there was no longer a need for the tail of the shirt and it was ceremoniously cut off, signed and nailed to the wall.
Another tradition is the soaking with buckets of water. At OFC, its is the preferred method of celebrating a solo flight and a welcome refreshing event after sweating through that first flight - at least in the summer. (We try to use warm water in winter.) It involves lots of people and is meant as fun. To add a bit of dignity to the event, we will shortly be handing out dry towels as a keep sake.
Personally, I never liked either of these rituals. I think they lack dignity and would rather the opportunity to buy a round of beer for everyone. I also understand if other people feel the same. Celebration should be fun for everyone, including you. So I offer you the choice of celebration. Do you want the traditional celebration or something else? What would make it a happy and memorable event for you? Handshakes? A group cheer? A presentation of flowers? Photos? Let us know before you go solo.
Otherwise, bring a set of dry clothes as you get close to solo. You will get wet.
Ian Currie, a member of the May 2010 Class, soloed today for the first time. Congratulations Ian!
James Sullivan, a student in our May 2010 class went solo today. Congratulations!
Congratulations again and a great landing!
Brent Crooks went solo this afternoon after starting his flight training with the Algonquin May class. Congratulation to Brent and his Instructor, Jeff Davy!