What to Expect After Your First Solo
Congratulations on completing your first solo flight! Nothing can replicate the feeling of flying
by yourself for the first time, and is a huge landmark in any pilots career. A lot of hard work has led up to this point, but it does not stop there. As you begin this next stage of your training, it's important to know all the regulations, requirements and your limitations as a student pilot.
As a student pilot, you are required to log 10 hours of solo flight time. Within those 10 hours, a student pilot must:
1. Log a minimum of 5 hours of solo cross country time.
2. Complete “at least 150NM total distance with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points and with one segment of the flight consisting of a straight line distance of at least 50NM between takeoff and landing locations”. (14 CFR 61.109)
3. Perform three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.
While these are the minimum requirements, you may find yourself logging more than 10 hours. It's important to log the required hours but make sure you also feel comfortable and confident when flying by yourself. If you are having trouble practicing certain maneuvers or find yourself struggling in a certain area, schedule time to meet and fly with your instructor. It's a good idea to fly with your instructor after every few solo flights to make sure you are performing up to par and feel confident in your ability to pilot the aircraft.
Rules and Regulations (14 CFR 61.89):
Now that you are acting as Pilot In Command (PIC), you are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations set by the FAA.
Student pilots are required to have the following documents in their possession for every solo flight:
1. Logbook with valid endorsements
2. Medical Certificate
3. Photo ID
4. Student Pilot certificate
*You should also always carry a current chart supplement and sectional with you.
A student pilot seeking their Private Pilot Certificate may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is…
1. Carrying passengers
2. For compensation or hire
3. In furtherance of a business
4. On an international flight
5. With flight or surface visibility of less than 3 statute miles during day, and 6 statute miles at night
6. When the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface
7. In a manner contrary to any limitations placed in the pilot’s logbook by an authorized instructor.
A student pilot seeking their Sport Pilots certificate may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is…
1. An aircraft other than light-sport aircraft (LSA)
2. At night
3. At an altitude higher than 10,000ft
4. In class B, C, and D, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, and to, from, through, or on an airport having an operational control tower without having received ground and flight training specified in 14 CFR 61.94 and an endorsement from an authorized instructor
5. Of a light-sport aircraft without having received applicable ground training, flight training, and instructor endorsements specified in 14 CFR 61.327
Understanding Your Limitations:
Unlike your dual lessons, you are acting Pilot In Command (PIC). You make the final call on whether you are safe to fly on a given day. Going through the IMSAFE/PAVE checklists is a great way to examine your personal minimums as a pilot and recognize the potential risks associated with your flight.
Now that you've soloed, you will also be required to keep a valid endorsement in your logbook signed off by your CFI. An endorsement outlines your privileges and limitations set by your instructor.
For each 90 day period, your instructor must write you a new endorsement to fly solo. This does not include endorsements for solo cross countries. For a solo cross country, your instructor must give you an endorsement for each individual flight. Your instructor can also endorse you to practice at another airport within 25NM of the home airport.
Always double check the limitations assigned to you on your endorsement and check in with your CFI. As you progress through your training, your limitations may change based on what your instructor deems appropriate.
This can be a lot to remember at first, but very important when starting the next stage of your training. Your CFI is a great resource for any questions or concerns you may have. Happy flying!