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Flight Training Preparation for Solo Flight

Flight Training Preparation for Solo FlightJust as pilot students do everything possible to prepare for their first solo flight, flight instructors work just as hard to prepare their students for 1st flight checkride. The reason flight instructors are so invested is because flight schools are graded based upon the pass and fail rate of their students during their checkride. Your CFI is graded based upon the pass fail rate of his or her students. To recommend a checkride, CFI’s have to be almost 100% sure their students are ready.

First Solo Flight Requirements

Before flying solo in the aircraft, you’ll need to have in your possession a student pilot certificate. How to get it:

  • Be at least 16 years old. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least 14 years old.
  • You can read, speak, and understand English
  • You hold at least a current third-class medical certificate. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you only have to certify that you have no medical defect that would make you unable to pilot a glider or balloon.

According to the FAR, in order to solo, there are two basic requirements:
1. The student must first have a Student Pilot Certificate, which is normally issued by an FAA Medical Examiner together with a Third Class Medical Certificate. While a student pilot may begin his training prior to obtaining this certificate, he/she must have it before the first solo flight.
2. The student’s instructor must authorize solo flight by making an endorsement in the student’s logbook. There are a number of guidelines set forth to help the instructor evaluate a student’s readiness to solo, including knowledge requirements (which may be tested orally or by a written test), and the demonstrated ability to perform certain maneuvers, but in the end the determination rests with the instructor.

Upon your request, an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will issue you a combined medical certificate and Student Pilot Certificate after you complete your physical examination. Student Pilot Certificates may be issued by an FAA inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office.
Please have in mind that you cannot renew your student certificate or medical certificate, you can only get a new one.

What To Expect For Your 1st Solo

Just as there is no set rule as to how many hours a pilot needs in order to solo, there is also no set rule for how a solo flight takes place. Once again, this is up to the instructor. Once a student is deemed ready, some instructors will let the student know and set aside a day when the flight will take place. On the other hand, many instructors prefer to give the student no warning at all. Instead the solo flight will happen at the end of a normal flying lesson. The instructor will generally give the student a clear set of instructions for what to do during the first solo flight. Typically, this might include a couple of “touch and go” followed by a full stop landing. It is normal to feel nervous, though the nerves generally go away after takeoff. Focusing on the immediate task at hand will usually help to stay nerves. However, if a student truly feels unready, he has every right to decline the opportunity. Once the flight is over, the instructor will meet the student and congratulate him. There is also an old tradition in which the instructor cuts off the backside of the student’s shirt and hangs it somewhere in commemoration of the event.

Flight Solo Check List
Verbalize Your Actions

Throughout the entire process of the practical side of your checkride make sure you’re verbalizing everything you do. This will ensure your examiner understands you’re well aware of what needs to be done and the fact that you’re doing it. A good example of this would be clearing turns. Simply say under your breath but loud enough that he or she can hear you, “clearing to the left” and “clearing to the right.” You may think this is redundant or pointless but, it’s a good safeguard.

Be the Pilot-in-Command

As you’re walking out to the aircraft with the designated examiner constantly reinforce to your self “I am the pilot in command, he or she is a passenger.” As you approach the aircraft talk to your examiner as if they had never been in a small aircraft prior to that day. Let them know what you’re going to do and let them know what you need of them. Once you’re in the cockpit make sure it you do not forget to pre-flight passenger briefing. This is critical. It is an FAA requirement for your passengers to have their seat belts on during takeoff and landing.

You’re a Pilot Until Proven Otherwise

Most student pilots are extremely nervous about taking a checkride. In reality, the designated examiner goes into this process believing you have exactly what it takes to be a private pilot certificate holder. He or she will trust the CFI’s decision to sign off your authorization to take your checkride. At this point the only way you can fail is if you prove you’re not capable of piloting the plane safely. Similar to our legal system in the United States where you’re innocent until proven guilty, during your checkride you’re a pilot until proven otherwise.

Set your Radio Pre-sets

Since you have already planned out your initial flight and gone over this with your designated examiner, you will know exactly what VOR you will need to use when you first leave the airport. You’ll also know the departure frequency for the control tower you’ll be using. Do yourself a huge favor and have these items already programmed into your NAV/COM system. There is no reason you need to be doing your takeoff procedures and fumbling with your NAV/COM in order to get your proper VOR frequency dialed in.

Aviator Flight Training Academy

Aviator Flight Training Academy offers professional pilot training programs with a minimum of 200 hours of multi-engine time. The flight school has a state of the art 37,000 square foot facility, featuring a CRJ Level 5 Flight Training Device (Simulator), large classrooms and individual briefing rooms.

To speak with a flight instructor call 772-672-8222.
Contact Aviator
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