First Solo for Jurgen, Tom and Oscar

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In recent weeks, 3 more EPST members have been able to get their traditional wet suits after flying all alone for the first time. The first solo is a wonderful moment that you celebrate with your fellow students when you are back on the ground. Most EPST pilots still consider this the best moment of their studies. We look back with Jurgen, Tom and Oscar.

Jurgen Simons: “Those memories will stay with you for the rest of your life”

The day will probably be etched in his memory forever: August 10, 2023. “After several attempts that could not take place due to the weather conditions, I was finally cleared for the solo flight. Before the first solo you run a check flight with the instructor, which went well for me. Just before I landed, he asked if I was ready. Then it was time for the instructor to get out! He gave me a fistbump and wished me luck, but above that, to have fun out there.”

Then it was time to go to the runway. “When you sit alone in that cockpit, feelings of freedom and responsibility prevail. Flying a Cessna yourself gives you self-confidence, but at the same time I felt somewhat anxious, because you have to rely completely on yourself to complete the flight safely and successfully.”

For Jurgen, the solo flight consisted of two touch-and-gos and a full stop landing. “While I was preparing for each landing, I looked down to confirm that I was actually flying alone. It was, and it still remains a magical and free feeling.”

Back on the ground the party could begin. “I taxied towards the school building where classmates were waiting with buckets of water. After some congratulations and being completely soaked, I quickly took a hot shower so I could debrief with the instructor. Afterwards, I let family and friends know that I had gone solo!”

The tenth of August remains a special day, Jurgen is convinced of that. “It has been a succesful day. The memories made will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Tom Hofland: “This is the icing on the cake!”

From Arendal, Norway, Tom takes us through the experience of his first solo at OSM Aviation. “The first solo consists of 3 parts: the briefing and the pre-flight part; then the flight with the instructor and finally the solo flight, after his permission.”

Tom explains the first part. “You need to give a briefing of both flights and the weather. You also demonstrate that you understand the technical parts of the aircraft.” Then follows the flight with the instructor. “He keeps a close eye on whether you follow the rules and whether you have the right skills during the landings.” Those are not just any landings, he says. “For example, you have to do one where the flaps don’t work and you perform one where the engine doesn’t work – simulated, of course.”

Then follows the solo flight. “That is the absolute icing on the cake!”, says Tom. “That flight consists of 3 landings. The first 2 of which you immediately make a go-around. Then you make a full-stop landing and taxi to the apron, where your classmates and any other students are eagerly waiting for you.”

Flight training in Norway brings its own Scandinavian flair. “In Norway, the tradition is that your fellow students give you a shower with ice water”, as a Scandinavian you have to be able to withstand a bit of cold. “And the instructor will bring you a can of Solo orange soda, which you should drink.”

In retrospect, Tom looks back on an exciting event. “Although good preparation is half the battle! In my case, that certainly took away some of the tension. All in all, I thought it was a tremendous experience. It still feels bizarre to look to the right while flying and realize that you are alone. This remains a special and cool feeling!”

Oscar Verweij: “A nerve-wracking, but exhilarating day”

“After doing a number of touch-and-go’s with an instructor, I was allowed to try going solo,” says Oscar, who also flies at OSM Aviation. “I trusted that the instructor had a good grasp of whether I could do it,” he explains.

Still, he felt quite a bit of healthy tension: “During take-off, I saw a lot of spectators out of the corner of my eye. It was also exciting that there was quite a bit of other traffic in the air. I had to communicate with them and even avoid it. Fortunately, I had already prepared for this before and the 3 landings went well.”

Oscar calls it an exhilarating experience. “In the end it was a nerve-wracking day, but it is amazing to get off the plane afterwards and receive the traditional buckets of water from your classmates.”

After the first solo, flying really starts. “Shortly after that first solo, I took to the air alone for the second time, the second solo. This time it was much less exciting, and I was able to enjoy the actual flying experience more.”

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