First solo flights for Sven, Pepijn and Kaan

The first solo flight is one of the major highlights in flight training. Many pilots still consider this their most beautiful moment, and for good reason: your dream comes true when you are all alone in the air for the first time. You land the aircraft safely on the ground and then the afterglow begins. EPST students Sven, Pepijn and Kaan take you along in their stories about this important milestone.

Sven Cozijn: ‘Like taking your driving test’

Sven anxiously boarded the Cessna 172S in Norway for a check flight. “Before you’re cleared for your first solo, you first have a check flight with an experienced instructor, who examines whether you can take off and land in a safe way, and whether everything that comes with it is also in order,” he says. “This was perhaps even more exciting than the first solo itself. Suddenly you have to do everything yourself, it feels a bit like you have to take your driving test again.” The check flight went well, and Sven got one more important question. “You will then be asked whether you are ready to fly solo. It’s the first decision you’re going to make as a pilot in command and you really need to feel ready because it’s quite something to fly solo for the first time.”

The instructor got out while the plane’s engine was still running. “You go straight on for your solo flight. You need to do so much that you actually don’t have time to realize it. You also have to pay close attention to all other traffic.” Still, the realization dawned. “While I was taxiing to the start of the runway, I saw many fellow students that came to watch. Then you realize for a moment that you are going to do something special!”

Then Sven was allowed to fly solo. “I had to perform 3 takeoffs and landings. 2 landings went well, one landing was safer to abort and make a go-around. Rule 1 during flying lessons is: ‘you can always go around’, much safer than a landing where you might damage yourself or your aircraft.”

After the flight, Sven took it all in. “Only then do you realize that you just flew alone in an airplane for the first time. What you always dreamed about just happened. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, never once did I feel like I’d rather have an instructor with me. The buckets of water and the congratulations from fellow students are of course also part of it.” Despite the euphoria, Sven keeps his eye on the big picture. “You know that this is only just the beginning and that you still have a lot to improve on. But they won’t take this moment away from you and I will always remember this day.”

Pepijn Tilleman: ‘It is impossible to describe’’

We stay with OSM Aviation in Norway for Pepijn. He sees the first solo as a reward for hard work. “You start with all 13 theory subjects and after that you’ll start flying. The first solo is therefore a very rewarding moment, because you have worked towards this for so long.” After the check flight with a few final touch-and-gos with the instructor, the moment was finally there. “It gets serious when the instructor asks if you’re ready. He wished me luck and got out, what went through my mind at that moment is impossible to describe”, Pepijn looks back. “As soon as you fly alone for the first time, look to the right and see no one, it’s such a good feeling.”

Then it was time for the traditional celebration on the apron. “A lot of people were ready to throw buckets of water over me, that was awesome. Afterwards you look back with pride at your first solo and you will never forget it. It is hands down the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”

Kaan Kaya: ‘Like a bird in the sky’’

A mix of enthusiasm and nerves, that’s how Kaan describes his first solo flight at Global Aviation in Greece. “After months of intensive training, I felt prepared, but I also realized that I was completely on my own in the cockpit,” he recalls. “When my instructor told me I was ready and got out, I felt proud, but frankly a little worried. The adrenaline pumped through my body as I followed the checklist and prepared the plane for departure.”

Then the moment was there. Kaan was ready to drive onto the runway. “Megara tower, SX-AKJ Solo, holding short runway 26L, ready for departure.” The words of his first solo call to the traffic control are etched in his memory. “It felt like an important moment in my life, the first really big step as a pilot.”

Kaan ascended with healthy anxiety. “The realization that you are responsible for all decisions gives tension, but also courage. The feeling of freedom and independence is indescribable. I felt like a bird in the sky, I will never forget that.”

The first solo means a lot to Kaan. “The moments of tension are offset by a sense of accomplishment and pride in your achievement after landing. It gave me even more confidence and motivation to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a pilot. It will stay with me as one of the most amazing moments of my life.”

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