Article Up On Women In Aviation Worldwide Week Site

Mirelle, from Women in Aviation Worldwide suggested I write an article for them. I thought for a while about what I should write – I mean, that’s the organization that had the First-To-Solo contest, so I should write about that right? But I thought, what’s the most important thing I have to say to the world about my involvement in aviation?

And I realized it’s something that my blog followers have already seen the blow by blow of as it was happening. When I was trying to get my medical certificate, I googled to see how other people with Aspergers had fared in the same process, and all I could find was an FAA article with an account of a commercial pilot’s medical certificate being revoked based on a new diagnosis of Aspergers. I felt pretty alone at the time, and wondered, has no one ever dealt with this before me?

If there had been an article like the one I wrote yesterday – if I could have found that in those weeks, I would have felt so much better. So I hope that if someone else in the world is going through the same thing, that they’ll find this and be comforted and reassured, and if there’s someone out there who thinks that they shouldn’t bother trying because they have Aspergers, that they’ll think again.

Anyway, here’s the link to the article:


First Solo

Without disruption of air traffic, this fearless, forthright, indomitable and courageous individual did venture into the wild blue yonder in a flying machine. Furthermore, this skillful individual did safely land said flying machine at the St. Andrews airport incurring no significant damage to self or machine. Thus completing a first solo flight!

Or so says the adorably tongue-in-cheek certificate they gave me when I got back to the ramp this afternoon.

My twitter followers have already heard, but yes, my category 1 medical certificate came in the mail early enough this afternoon to take it with me to my scheduled flight today. Paper-work was done, and I have a student pilot permit now that allows me to legally act as pilot in command of a single engine piston aeroplane.

First step after that was the pre-solo checkout. If your instructor is a junior instructor, you go up with one of the senior instructors for that – basically, do a few circuits, prove to them that you’re ready. My instructor, Sandra, is rated such that she’s allowed to make that call, so I did the pre-solo checkout with her. No pressure, she says. *g* I’m lucky – I tend to perform at my best under pressure.

We took C-GZLF, which I haven’t flown for a while, but when I looked at my logbook, I realized it was the plane we took, not for my discovery flight, but for my first lesson. Did a bunch of circuits. We also did a power off landing, and while it wasn’t by any means perfect, I did make the runway and we didn’t need to backtrack. The last landing, she asked ATC for “the option” which means we might do a touch and go, or we might do a full stop, and finish up. What she was doing was, if I messed up that landing, she’d have me do one more, so that we left off on a good landing, with my confidence up.

I didn’t mess up that landing though, and we got off on taxiway H to head back. Then she had me bring her to the ramp and drop her off.

A student’s first solo is just a single go around the circuit – one take-off, fly a rectangle to come back, and one landing.

I was pretty excited. The most eerie thing was I remembered I was supposed to buckle the seatbelt in the empty seat, because that counts as loose objects, and needs to be secured. It makes it hard to forget your safety net, that person who can fix anything you screw up, isn’t there. Just as well I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I had this feeling like I was supposed to be scared, but that voice in my head that tells me I can’t do something was stuttering over the question “and why not?” and coming up blank. The vicious logic of the aspie brain can be great sometimes, no? Mostly I just tried not to focus on the nervous thoughts and distract myself with what I was doing – flying the plane.

It went fine – was even one of my better landings. I’m definitely less distracted without my instructor there. I’m always one ear paying attention to anything she says, and half the time I forget things is when I’m listening to her and forget what I’m doing because it’s not automatic yet. That’ll come though. It’s starting to – I’m not feeling so overwhelmed by all the things I have to remember in the circuit like I was when we started.

Anyway, I did it, I didn’t die, didn’t crash the plane, and did good. Didn’t bounce or balloon, or drift across the runway, or anything. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (No, really, they gave me a t-shirt!) Here’s the pic of me right after landing.

So what’s next for me? It’ll be more hood time, and cross country training mostly, plus building hours flying solo. Weather permitting, I’ll be doing 2 flights on Friday solo circuits. Then it’s flight test prep. I wish I could say this is the end of the road blocks, but I’m sure more will come, and whatever comes, I’ll take it head on.