Senior Flying Instructor, Ray Lind and Ed Godschalk
My First Solo - Eddie Godschalk - Dec 2011
I couldn’t stuff it up now, not with the big boys watching!
So I turned up for a supposed routine lesson of practising my landings with the aim of doing a solo flight down the track and away we went. My instructor, Ray Lind, seemed quite confident that the weather was going to allow us to have a good session of touch and go (landings and take offs) procedures and he was right as we buzzed around with a little bit of buffeting here and there, but all in all, the landings came together well.
Eventually Ray said, “let’s pull up on the next landing” and I remember thinking, what a shame as I was enjoying myself and wasn’t ready to stop, but the next words soon had the blood draining from my face – “just pull up and let me out and do 1 circuit on your own, then meet me back at the hangar!” He said it so matter of fact that I almost didn’t believe my ears.
Ray is a retired school teacher and his skills in instruction have been first class, so I was confident that if he believed I was ready then I could do it, but the little voices in my head were saying “What, are you crazy? Surely you can’t be serious!” But he was and I could just about feel my heart in my mouth.
As he waved me off and I stared back through the window like a pensive kid letting go of his mother’s apron strings on the first day of school, I thought, well this is it. I’d been telling myself I could do it alone, but now it was time to test that theory.
As I started my take off roll felt nervous, but strangely enough as soon as my wheels were off the ground I got this sudden rush of adrenaline and the overwhelming feeling of being in control of the aeroplane and constantly hearing my instructor’s words guiding me through the procedure that involves a successful flight. Every movement, I heard Ray saying “tidy the aeroplane up” and it’s amazing how this worked to keep me on track (or at least, in the air).
As I approached the aerodrome to commence my first ever solo landing, I heard the call from a QANTASLINK plane that had taxied its way out to the holding area waiting for my arrival so they could use the same runway fortakeoff. I couldn’t stuff it up now, not with the big boys watching! Once again, it would have been interesting to check the heart rate monitor as I bounced and swayed in for the landing, but all went well and I had just completed one of the most sensational experiences in my life.
As I rolled of the runway quickly as not to hold up the QANTAS flight, I thanked them for their patience as it was my first solo flight and their replies of congratulations just added to the whole experience. As I pulled up at the hangar and shut down the engine I just couldn’t stop laughing to myself. What an experience! Ray shook my hand and wished me a Merry Christmas – what a gift!