In the aviation world, preparation is key. In this post, we share some tips on how to prepare for your first solo flight. This is not an exhaustive list so we are more than happy to hear your thoughts in the comment box below. Be sure to share your tips as well.
You must have a valid restricted radio licence or higher to fly solo. Your starting point would be to take the radiotelephony course. At Eastrise, a student must also have completed and passed the knowledge tests for the air navigation and flight performance & planning modules. Staying legal goes beyond these documents: you must also ensure that you follow through your checklists. Safety comes first!
Revise Emergency Procedures
Your fist solo is the first time in your flying career (and your life) when you will be the pilot in command (PIC). To ensue you increase your margin of safety, you must revise all emergency procedures and ensure that you have read and committed to memory the critical emergency procedures such as engine failure after takeoff (EFATO), engine failure in flight and others. These must be recalled from memory and confirmed with checklists in an emergency.
Revise SRM Procedures
You must be conversant with Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM) procedures. This is extremely important. You want to maximise available resources even in the absence of people or your instructor in the aircraft. Your available resources include VFR flight following with ATC, your instructor on the ground, other aircraft that may be able to relay your message should your radio be out of rage, and others.
You don’t want to have an upset stomach in flight – more so over mountains. You must thus be food wise. Our advice is to avoid spicy as well as foods you rarely eat. For some of us who have lactase intolerance, avoiding milk and dairy products could be the ideal strategy. The goal is to eat well but not to overeat and ultimately overstress your gut.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Pattern
Your internal clock requires that you get adequate sleep every night, most importantly in a regular pattern. Push aside all those distractions – Facebook, WhatsApp, late night TV shows and others. The goal is that you must be refreshed. Remember that inadequate sleep may lead to reduced vigilance, improper scanning – and you guessed right, an accident.
Be Weather Wise
You are not yet instrument rated so you must ensure that you fly in VFR conditions. There are helpful tools such as Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts, the Automated Terminal Information System and others that you can use to plan your trip. Even when the skies are clear, be on the lookout for other factors such as strong winds and turbulence. Never take chances. The aviation world is unforgiving to people who do!
Know Your Instruments
You must know how to read basic instruments such as the aeronautical radio, the VOR, magnetic compass, heading indicator and others. Even without an instrument rating, you must have the knowledge of how these work and how to use them. Knowledge is power! Most importantly, maintain situational awareness by trusting your instruments and not what your body is telling you. Follow the 90:10 rule – spend 90 percent of your time looking outside and only 10 percent at your instruments.