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Going Solo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      I pushed the throttle up as far as it would go and held it there. I watched the needle on the airspeed indicator creep toward 65 knots as the light posts lining the runway whipped by faster and faster. Liftoff. Sweat dripped down my face while shivers shimmied up my spine. I was flying solo for the first time.

Less than an hour before, my instructor had picked me up from school. I had walked toward his minivan ready for adventure and we made the usual small talk about wind speed and what plane we’d be taking.

We pulled into a parking spot, walked into the hangar, and grabbed the keys for Warrior 767PP. I began my preflight check of every nut and bolt on the plane, examining every square inch. I looked at the level of oil and gasoline. After checking for sediment in the fuel tanks, I brought the plane onto the staging area. My instructor got in and I went through the checklist for starting the engine. Then I turned the key while manipulating the amount of fuel forced into the engine. After a few seconds, the engine roared to life.

We taxied down the runway.

“Fleet, Warrior 767PP departing runway 28, Fleet.” Then I turned onto the runway and pushed the throttle to the max. I pulled up on the yoke and we soared above the trees, heading north. The closer we got to the Plymouth airport, and my first solo flight, the more nervous I became.

After we landed, my instructor got out and wished me luck. He tried to calm me by saying that I was ready and would do fine. Then he closed the hatch. For the first time in my life, I was alone in an airplane.

As I taxied out, my teeth were chattering. My mind was racing so fast I could have done calculus, written an essay, and solved Rubik’s cube all at the same time.

At the end of the runway, I went through my checklist: All instruments are green - check. Flaps are up - check. Fuel pump is on - check. Trim is set - check. Seatbelt secured and window latched - check. I made my call and rolled onto the runway. I remember thinking that this was my last chance to pull out, then I pushed the throttle to max again, only this time there was no guiding hand next to mine. I was wide-eyed and sweating the whole way down the runway. As soon as I took off, though, most of the anxiety disappeared. I realized I could do this.

I went through the flight pattern and came in on final approach. I set the trim and put down the flaps. I turned on my landing lights and fuel pump. I checked the glide slope indicator to see how my approach was looking. It was red over white, I was good. I got two feet over the runway and eased the power out while pulling the nose up. As my speed decreased, I eased down onto the runway. I applied the brakes and taxied back to my instructor. The whole way down the runway, the grin never left my face.

I had done it. I had flown a plane on my own for the first time. I got back to school and went to my next class. Even though my clothes were drenched from sweat, I didn’t care. I had just tackled a huge obstacle that had haunted me for weeks. Suddenly, pre-calculus seemed easy.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

moonpetal said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm
Cool! I know what u mean about being nervouse about the challange. Love the pre-calc metephor :D
 
Sonata16 said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 11:43 am
Very nice! My brother flies airplanes as well, so it was cool to get your take on it, too!
 
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