First Solo!

After 9 months of flight training and 21 hours of dual instruction, I finally did my first solo on the last day of 2016. I did 3 take-offs, 2 touch-and-go’s and one full-stop landing. The plane felt lighter without Tim, my instructor, and with a bit of crosswind it was not as straight forward. Luckily announcing to tower that I am a student pilot makes it much easier as they tend to be much more patient and forgiving when dealing with students. Great way to end the year!


More touch-and-go’s


As I prepare for my first solo, I flew once in November (blue) and once so far in December (red). We are solely doing touch-and-go’s so far to practice flying in the traffic pattern as well as landing + ATC. I was surprised when I measured the length of a single loop around the pattern. It came up to around 7 s.m.. In total, the blue path is around 125 s.m. which is a crazy distance given that we are basically going around in huge circles!

PA-28-161 checklist


Many of the checklists I came across were not super intuitive. They often lacked areas to take down notes or ATIS info. I went through the PA-28-161 POH and the East Coast Aero Club checklist for the same aircraft and put together my own. This checklist is designed specifically for KBED as a home airport but can be easily modified. This just helps me get organized as I am still a student pilot. The mini airport diagrams helped me visualize the taxiway instruction. Also marking them on the spot as they are given out over the radio means that I won’t mess them up during readback. Writing down some info from ATIS also helps keep them in memory. I tried to categorize them in a meaningful way: For instance, combining some of the takeoff items with the runup as they are usually performed while at the runup pad before holding short of the runway. A pdf of the checklist is available here. It should be printed on a letter size sheet. After cutting around the rectangular border, it should fit the ASA VRF kneeboard perfectly. See below. I am now working on adjusting the layout so it fits on a letter size sheet (both sides) without cutting.

3B0 Southbridge Municipal Airport


A few touch and go’s , 6 to be exact, at 3B0. The airport is non-towered so you tune in and announce your location on the CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency). I need to overlay this track on a sectional to see how we avoided the BOS Bravo airspace and other restricted areas.. Distance is 46mi. (40n.m.). I used the android app “open GPS tracker” to record this track and apparently I had to put the phone in airplane mode so that the gps does not use the cellular network – which disappears at some point during the flight.

PA-28-161 lights


The many types og lights on the Piper Warrior always confused me so I decided to set the record straight. I put together this diagram for easy reference. There are four main groups of lights:

  1. Landing light under the propeller – used when landing
  2. Anti-collision lights (beacon+strobes) – used when engine is running
  3. Position or navigation lights – used at night (greenRight and redLeft). The FAA defines (one of the many definitions of night) night as “The time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight”.
  4. Recognition lights at the wing tips.