So, in every student pilots life, there’s a time when he/she will be told to solo. This is more directly known as “Flying the plane without the guy.” (If your instructor happens to be a guy).
Welp, that time, for me, was this evening. After a noted aborted attempt (see here) I had one more non eventful lesson, and then this evenings lesson.
I’d been monitoring metars all day, watching the wind slowly climb (as it does in The Bay Area), thinking that I was going to have just another hour in the pattern. About the fifth lap, my instructor asked how I felt about soloing in 17 kt winds, and I responded that I’d prefer there to be a few less knots. Then I said “Say I had already soloed; what winds would you let me out in?” He responded: 15 kts. As if on cue, KPAO tower came on and said “Winds 310 at 15.” I had to ask “Did you tell her to say that?” Regardless, I knew that I was there and this was about to happen.
I dropped him off on the apron, he gave me a few instructions and off I went. Surprisingly, it was not in the least terrifying. In fact, it was like the prior 15 or so hours of flight. One time I was a little high on final; once I was a little low. All landings were fairly decent. It was emptier in the cabin, and quieter. “You noticed I wasn’t there criticizing you?” “Well, I noticed, but I knew you were on the ground silently judging me.” That got a laugh. In the end, it was three take offs and three landings to a full stop. 0.4 hours as pilot in command of a Piper Warrior II, N81020. And that’s that. Now, I have another lesson to polish some maneuvers, and then a phase check with another instructor...then I can go out for limited practice.
He took pictures: