"Sixty five knots, 1300 RPM, two hundred feet to go; I have the runway made, looking good." Ok back on the throttle, easy... easy... time to flare... there's the picture... hold it hold it. We're down. Now that was a good landing. I am really getting the hang of this."
"Ok! That was a great landing," said the flight instructor. "Pull over here by the edge of the runway."
I taxi the airplane to the side of the runway. Jeff opens the door and starts to get out. With one leg dangling out the door, he turns toward me.
"I want you to go up and shoot three landings. Two touch and goes, then a full stop."
Getting out of the plane, he turns to walk away. Stops, turns back and sticks his head in the cockpit.
"Oh!" he says, "And Julie."
"Don't forget to pick me up, afterwards." Smiling he tells me. "You will do well. You have the skills and ability. Good luck."
He closes the door and walks toward the edge of the runway leaving me alone in the airplane.
While taxing toward the beginning of the runway apprehensiveness and excitement vie for control over me.
I think, "This is it! I will finally be a pilot. My first solo."
Nervousness grips me and my mind races to think of everything I have to do. I read the checklist with a new thoroughness. I no longer have Jeff watching over my shoulder ready to correct any mistakes or mental lapses.
"Let's see, Throttle 1700 RPM, Check magnetos... 50 to 125 RPM drop on each. That looks like 80 RPM. OK, good."
Slowly and deliberately, I check each item. Now it is time to go. I can delay no longer. My stomach informs me of the finality of what I am about to do. Apprehensively but with deliberation, I slowly push the throttle forward. The engine roars and the airplane starts moving, slowly then accelerating faster and faster.
My eyes dart from airspeed indicator, to the runway, to engine instruments.
"Forty knots, I am two feet left of centerline."
Unconsciously, I press slightly on the right rudder pedal to move back to the center of the runway.
"Engine instruments are all in the green."
"My God! I am already at 55 knots" I think re-scanning the airspeed indicator...
I ease back on the control yoke and... I am flying!
"You did it girl!" I think as I grin from ear to ear. "Wouldn't Grandmother be proud of me? After all I am named after her."
My thoughts continue, as I remember the stories she told me of her days flying airplanes during World War II, as a female ferry pilot.
"Now, all you have to do is land this thing!"
Quickly, I stop my musing and focus on flying. Four hundred felt above the ground I make a left turn 90 degrees to the runway and continue to climb. Around 700 feet above the ground, I am far enough away from the runway to make another left turn and enter the downwind leg of the landing pattern.
True Story /