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“Pre-Solo Training”

steep turns

When teaching me this maneuver, Evelyn would pull the throttle to idle, and say, “Fly the plane (Best Glide speed), find a field, follow the checklist, attempt restart, call on the radio 121.5, squawk 7700 on the transponder, and make the approach to the field.” She summarized this process as, “Aviate, Evaluate, Troubleshoot, and Communicate.” With this practice maneuver, which could happen at any time and without warning, resulted in me making an approach to a field, descending to an altitude of 500’ above the ground, at which point Evelyn would say, “good job, you would have made it.”

I know that all sounds a bit frightening, but this type of training is essential for the student pilot to understand, control, and react to the aircraft in different configurations and situations. This training is crucial before the student attempts landing practice. Also, before we ever entered the traffic pattern to practice “Takeoffs and Landings,” Evelyn took me to a practice area a few miles from the airport, to practice “Ground Reference Maneuvers.”

ground ref

traffic pattern

All went well, until I transitioned from stabilized approach to landing. I just could not land the aircraft without flaring to high or too low. This is not unusual for someone learning to fly. Evelyn’s patience during this time, and her ability to say the right thing at the right time, made it possible for me eventually, to actually land the airplane.

In my next post, I will share the story of my first solo flight on my 16th birthday, and I will share the stories of some of my dual and solo cross-country flights in East Tennessee.


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