Real Answers from Real Pilots

First Solo Flight or Checkride

I am planing on going to ATP in about two years when I finish my degree at Texas A&M. I have been have been thinking about the path ahead and know I will have to fly SOLO at some point. I want to see if anyone can share their experiences and if it is really that scary? Also, can anyone share their checkride experiences?

Thank you guys!

By the time you solo you will have enough time in the airplane with your instructor that it is usually just very exciting, at least that was my experience. The private checkride can be a bit uncomfortable at first since it’s your first one and you don’t know exactly what to expect, but by that point you should have the skills to handle it which is why your instructor has to sign you off before you can schedule it. Again, these were my experiences, others on here may have felt differently during their training.

James

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Miguel,

You’re not the only one who has anxiety regarding solo flights. It’s actually quite common. As James said with training “usually”(?) comes confidence, but not always. That’s one of the reasons the first solo is a pretty significant accomplishment, many aspiring pilots quit just prior. Have you been up in a small plane yet with an instructor? If so how was that? Was is more exciting than scary? If you haven’t I strongly recommend you do as it might give you a better idea of how you’ll feel?

Adam

Sorry, I was trying to be clear that this was only my experience, and that of the few other pilot friends I have and have made since I started flying. I’m sure Adam has seen plenty of pilots who stayed nervous, having been an instructor and with 1001% more experience than I. Absolutely agree that an intro flight is the first step before you decide anything.

My first solo I would not say is scary. You are doing the same exact thing you would be doing if your instructor was in the plane, he’s just not there. They will make sure YOU are ready before they send you up alone.
My Private checkride was frustrating as I had cancelled so many times and it was months after the original date and I just wanted to get it over with. I definitely had a wrench in my stomach the day before and morning of. Met with the airman and he was a older guy, had over 30,000 flight hours in all sorts of planes and we talked for the first 30 minutes about flying before even starting the paperwork. The oral was maybe 40-45 minutes. He didn’t expect me to know every single thing and if I was short on somthing it was more of an educational moment than a “wrong, points docked” moment. The actual checkride was not bad either. He would just tell you to do somthing and you do it, just like with your instructor. I felt pretty good about my flying and we landed and that was it. Afterwards I was not quite sure why I had been so nervous for so long and it is a HUGE confidence boost not only as a person but as a pilot. Sorry for the long story haha.

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Miguel,

When I soloed I knew it was going to happen on a certain day. I decided to tell my father, who at the time was a 737 Check Airmen at US Airways, and he decided to come. So not only did I have the added stress of my first solo, but also of my father watching. Needless to say, I was rather nervous. The flight went fine though, three trips around the traffic pattern and that was it. The next solo flight was much less nerve racking.

I was also nervous for my checkrides, but with each one it got a little better. Even today though, after 15 years of flying, I still get a bit nervous for checkrides.

Chris

thank you for the response! Yes that is how I initially fell in love with aviation. about 5 years ago I signed up for a intro flight at my local airport and I was hooked. The feeling I got when taking off and flying over my hometown was so amazing, I loved every moment of it!

Then what’s your concern?

Adam

Miguel,

I remember being a little bit nervous as I was taxiing out to the runway to solo, but all the stress immediately disappeared once the wheels left the ground on takeoff. I suddenly felt a rush of excitement and I noticed that the airplane was flying just the same as it was flying a few minutes beforehand when I was doing practice laps with the instructor. I continued for 3 more laps in the pattern that were uneventful (but very fun) and brought it back in to the ramp with a huge smile on my face.

Yarden