After You've Soloed

After You've Soloed

Once you've soloed you can start limited flying on your own. However, the wiser decision is to get back in the aircraft with your instructor and move to phase two of learning to fly, honing your skills toward precision flying. No, you won't be doing acrobatics; you'll be maintaining a specific heading, climbing and descending smoothly, making numerous and varied takeoffs and landings, and maintaining an altitude within 100 feet plus or minus of the given altitude.

You'll also learn more about wind and how it impacts your flight path. You'll practice takeoffs and landings with a crosswind. You'll fly patterns in the sky, making adjustments to compensate for the direction and speed of the wind as you go. You'll also learn what a stall really is, how to avoid it, and how to fly out of it.

Once your instructor believes you are ready, he or she will endorse your pilot log for a solo cross-country trip. Before that you'll need to plan the trip, with the help of your instructor, using current weather forecasts, sectional charts, a flight computer, and the aircraft owner's manual. If you're like most student pilots your first solo cross-country flight will be one of the most exhilarating and intimidating times of your life. On the one hand you're free. On the other hand it's all up to you.

Wing Tips

If you can, fly your first solo cross-country trip using a flight simulator program before you fly the real thing. Develop your flight plan, use the simulator to communicate with air traffic control (ATC) or other pilots if you wish, and get a sense of what it will be like. It will not only prepare you mentally, it will help you get over that first-solo fear.