What happens after my First Solo Flight?

Interestingly enough, when you finish your First Solo Flight, you have learned all there is to know about aircraft control. The one area that you haven't been trained in is instrument flying, and you will receive five hours of instrument training leading up to your Flight Test (the "ride").

With regard to your pilot skills, you will begin a series of practice solo training flight where you will develop your pilot skills to flight test standards. Importantly, this is the time to really know the Flight Test Guide--know what the targets are, and know how your performance will be judged.

Also, after your First Solo, the emphasis will be placed on applying your skills to going places--pilot navigation. Before we send you out on your own, however, we want you to know how to do a Forced Landings away from airports, and we also want you to be skilled at doing a Precautionary Landing--a procedure for landing the aircraft in a field or at an unfamiliar airport so as to avoid a possible critical flight situation (bad weather, fuel shortage, etc.).

Then on to pilot navigation, and here you will begin by learning how to do improvised navigation--called "diversions"—where, with only a map and a pencil, you learn to apply an organized and efficient way of flying a route without pre-flight preparation. After you learn this, you start formal navigation (pre-flight preparation for a trip), and here is where all that hard work in groundschool comes to play--the key issue, of course, is ensuring you plan for necessary fuel consumption (you would think initially this not to be an issue, but remember the fuel weight issues that pilots have). The navigation portion of the training basically entails your Instructor taking you on a trip to a distant airport, and then you flying the same trip by yourself. You have to acquire three hours of dual training for the Private Pilot Licence, as well as five hours solo.

As you approach the final end of the training, your Instructor will focus on preparing you for flight test performance--you will be regularly asked to demonstrate a series of flight exercises, for example, and nothing will be said while you perform and demonstrate--the emphasis will be on critiquing your performance after your demonstration, with the intent of fine-tuning your skills. This final phase of your training will happen fast, so hang on to your hat; but, most importantly, start being a pilot, and not a student.