It’s true, I’m sorta, kinda, afraid of solo flying. Not the “normal” flying stuff, but anything new. This poses a bit of a problem, since at this point in my learning to fly I need to be doing the flying all by myself virtually all of the time.
On Saturday and Sunday this week I flew solo. Saturday was just laps around the pattern, landing, takeoffs, taxi backs, the normal stuff. That is fine and I’m comfortable doing it for the most part. Sunday my CFI pushed me to fly out to the coast and do some “air work.” This is the stuff of stalls, slow flight, and controlling altitude and bank angles in turns. I don’t really enjoy doing that stuff with the CFI in the plane with me, so it was really tough to be motivated to do it without him there. Worse, there was mild turbulence on the way to and back from the practice area. When you are all alone in the cockpit, the tower has released you with the “frequency change approved” kiss off, it can get a bit crazy there in the cockpit (or your head).
In my case, it was just a chunk of time with my brain alternating between moving the arms and hands to do the stuff they are supposed to do and the mind’s tendency to be freaking out with all of the rocking and rolling of the winds. I eventually started talking to myself (cue the “wacko” tag here) to restore a since of calm and order in the plane. Once over at the practice area, which today is a grand vista of the Pacific ocean and bits of Half Moon Bay visible, things smoothed out and a sense of purpose returned. It wasn’t until the return to the airport that things went all to pieces again.
Once headed back in I got to see the real disaster in the making: at least 12 different planes in the pattern in various states of take off, landing, maneuvering, talking to the tower, and getting completely and utterly lost. I only did one more circuit around the pattern in this airplane soup, since the poor tower folks were just getting hammered. In the end, on the ground, I realized that there was never really any danger to me, but when you are all alone surrounded by O2 and smog, bouncing around, you just don’t have a lot of common sense when facing the unknown.