First Solo

There’s a term in aviation that all pilots know well called the first solo. It’s when a new pilot completes a takeoff, short flight and safe landing, all by him or herself, for the very first time. It’s basically the aviation equivalent of losing your virginity. You kinda line the aeroplane up with the strip, take your best aim and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much. It’s something you never ever forget (no matter how much you might want to). For a pilot it is a very special, sacred even, moment.

I’d no idea I would be doing my first solo the day that I did. My instructor hadn’t given the slightest indication that he thought I was ready. He simply briefed me to taxi back to the same spot once I was done, then told me “Godspeed old chap,” and closed the cockpit door behind him – leaving me completely befuddled as I taxied gingerly to the runway threshold. Then, without thinking about it, I set maximum thrust and took off, all by myself.

It was, without a doubt, one of single most exhilarating moments of my aviation career. One of those rare moments of pure ecstasy, like you’re on top of the world. I felt invincible. That was, at least, until I was flying back when I looked down at the runway and it dawned on me, ‘shit I’ve got to land this thing!’ My exact thought at this point was, ‘Fuck,’ repeated several times in quick succession.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, I bring this up because, right now, I feel like this very post is my blogging first solo. And to be brutally honest with you all – I’m petrified. I have the same feeling I did when I stared down at that runway just over eleven years ago now. The same dawning realisation that I have to do this all by myself. That same sinking feeling – like I’ve missed a crucial part of my training.

I should say this isn’t the first post I’ve done for PO. Troy and Bogdan had the foresight to test run one of my pieces a short while back – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do. (Which, incidentally, seems particularly pertinent given I feel like crying myself to sleep every night at the moment.) It’s just that this time they’ve given me the keys and closed the cockpit door behind them.

“Godspeed old chap,” they said.

Godspeed.

Yet I’ve only been playing with my own poky… blog for half a year now. In that time I’ve amassed a meagre total of just over 300 followers. Now here I am, writing for a blog with nearly 16,000!

Is that right? 

Yep.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

And so I apologise dear readers if all this feels a bit awkward or if my delivery isn’t the smoothest. I’m sure that with time, I’ll be able to the hit the right spot. But you’ll have to bear with me – I am working with rather limited equipment, at least (ahem), linguistically speaking.

Anyway there’s no doubt that I want to be here. That I want to engage with as many wonderful, like-minded people who share in what is such a wonderful community here on WordPress. I believe this will undoubtedly help me grow both as a person and a writer. So when I saw Troy’s ad to say they were looking for writers I was chomping at the bit. And before I circle back to my story, to bring this post home, let me take this moment to say how extremely grateful I am to him and the rest of the team here at PO for welcoming me on-board!

However unlike the average person who feel pride and confidence when they achieve something, I feel nothing but relief that I didn’t fuck it up. A bit like when a captain tells me that was a nice landing (or not) after we’ve taxied off the runway, that’s the moment I realise it’s ok to exhale. 

So after my brief moment of joy the other day when I found out the news, my mind, just like it did all those years ago when staring down at the runway, expedited itself into the warm and cosy rabbit-hole of crippling self-doubt.

‘There’s no way I’m good enough to blog on PO. Everyone is going to realise that I don’t belong here. The writers here are all established – Linguistic PHD students, English professors and the like. They also seem to use this thing called discretion. I’m just a pilot with a shockingly poor grasp of the only language I know. I mean, what the fuck should I write about anyhow? What should I make my first post about? Should I make it about me and all my problems seen as no one cares or asked? Great idea!’

Then it occurred to me, I was pointlessly overthinking about what I should write for a blog called pointless overthinking. That at least made me chuckle. Then, just like I did following my mild panic attack all those years ago, I took several big breathes and thought to myself – maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel at home here after all. That maybe, just maybe, I can pull off this landing.

Thank you so much for reading everyone. As a starter for ten – to get more aquatinted with all of you lovely readers here at PO – I want to ask you what scary first time experiences you’ve had? How did it go? Was it unbearably awkward? Or was it, in fact, not nearly as bad as you thought it would be? Was it maybe even, rather pleasant? How did you deal with nerves? Also if you have any other feedback or remarks please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below. Just be gentle – it’s my first time after all.

***

You can visit AP2’s personal blog here at: https://clear-air-turbulence.com

47 thoughts on “First Solo

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  1. AP, I sang my first solo at age five in a little country church in Pennsylvania. I don’t so much remember singing. I see, in my mind’s eye, an image of a very small girl standing beside a piano and remember feeling that my father was proud of me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a lovely story Cheryl. Yes it occurs to me we all have many first solos on our lives. My dad was also there that day waiting for me on the ground. Watching on as I came into land. I remember how proud he was too. My old man was also a pilot so it meant a lot to see follow in his footsteps. Thanks for sharing Cheryl. I wish you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful first post, my friend! It’s so lovely to have you here at PO. You absolutely captured the fear and the thrill of the “first time” experience. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all survived. So here’s to staying calm(ish) and carrying on. 🕊

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you snapdragon. Your words mean a great deal. Staying calm isn’t my strong suit (not ideal for a pilot) but I’m still here. As you say – carrying on is the most important thing. Thanks again 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s a very interesting post! Personally, my first solo was last year when I sang before a prettifying size of audience. It was sort of an open karaoke. To be honest, I didn’t even know why I stepped up to the stage, that too to sing, since I wasn’t much of a stage person then. I still remember how wildly my heart was beating! 😂 But after the first few lines, I found myself hardly caring about the sea of people watching. The moment I ended my song was so precious because now I can say my first solo wasn’t my last one.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you Urvi. That’s amazing! I wonder if not thinking about is key. Just get up and do it. Don’t overthink it. Often my anxiety about having to land in tricky conditions is worse before hand. When i overthink it. Once I’m actually flying or ‘hands on’ – then I’m totally in the moment, and my nerves disappear as a result. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish you well with all your future performances 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was in a very similar situation (which if all goes well, I hope I shall share with the readers at Pointless Overthinking 😊). You have no idea how your writing about your fright at solo flying has vindicated me. In that similar situation I was in, I kept asking, my equivalent of the pilot, if they really thought I fly. This article, its honesty, and genuineness, has brought me great equanimity.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Hahahaha! 😀 AP2, if you ‘fuck fuck fuck fuck’ anymore, you will surely lay an egg! You are in the right place, as we all understand pointless overthinking too well. Congratulations on your solo write. Now I am waiting for the written aerobatics! Loop de loop and cross your teas, bring it on.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Haha 😂. My house is littered with them. Usually happens when I step on some of my sons Lego! Thanks so much for your kind words. I have, as it happens, done some aerobatics flying as-well. The first time I threw up twice because of the g force. Anyway I’ll save that particular gem of a story for another time. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I personally hate public speaking, but I suppose talking about mental health in front of a school isn’t so bad looking back 😅 (unless you count me recounting my own struggles in front of 10,000+ high school students… 😓)
    You’ll do absolutely amazing AP2! Taking the first step is hard, but you’ve nailed it! I cannot wait to see you here some more, best of luck! 🥰
    ~Janelle 💕

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Janelle. Thank you so much for kind words. Public speaking is difficult and a skill that requires practise. The worst part is the waiting. The buildup. I usually find once your on stage and talking it’s not nearly as bad. But yeah I don’t like it either. I don’t even like doing PAs on board. That’s incredible that you were able to talk to such a large crowd though… and about mental health. That takes a lot of guts. Well done Janelle. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amorina – although they aren’t my followers but everyone else’s here at PO – I’m just extremely lucky to now be a part of the team. And you’re right – it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. I will keep on keeping on. I might just add that the comparison game is a dangerous one to play. Simply love what you do and concentrate on getting a little bit better everyday. Forget the rest. Everyone’s journey is their own. Wishing you the very best on yours, AP2🙏

      Like

    1. Thank you Katey. I appreciate your comment. Yes blunt honesty has got me in trouble before but more often than not it has worked in my favour. I’m a big believer in honesty – now so more than ever! Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The scariest moment of my life was standing up in front of a Dale Carnegie class giving my first talk in front of 40 people in an effort to overcome my hideous fear of public speaking. I remember hoping that the floor would open up and swallow me whole. The second scariest was the moment I pushed the publish button on my very first blog post. Happily I survived both, mostly as a result of the intention of overcoming my shortcomings. Well at least two of them. I’m still working on the others! Congratulations on your first PO piece. Outstanding job! I enjoyed the art of your craft.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Julia. To face your fears like that takes an extraordinary amount of courage. I tend to think that’s exactly what courage is. Nothing to do with doing what most others wouldn’t, but doing exactly what scares you the most. If more people did the world would undoubtedly be a better place. I’d be very interested to read that post of yours when you’ve published it. I’m also working on many of my shortcomings. It’s a life long project! Wishing you all the best, AP2 🙏

      Like

  8. Great post. Your “Godspeed” faith paid off! I can relate on a couple of accounts–the first with regard to being up in the air…only to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The second? I also was scared of posting my first article. There were a whole bunch of thoughts going through my head. It’s all learning.
    Keep up the great work!
    Kind regards,
    Art

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Art! I’ve also been skydiving. Amazing experience. It seems lots of people have the same publishing anxiety when it comes to blogging. I guess we all want to be seen and accepted for who we are? Anyway as you say, each post is a step forward.
      Kind regards, AP2 🙏

      Like

      1. You’re welcome! I agree, I think most people who blog may have had some first-time jitters. In the beginning, I’ll admit that I did care about the amount of views, and there was definitely some ego involved. Now, I truly hope that people will receive the depth of my articles; especially as they pertain to the nature of consciousness and our being. .
        Thanks for your reply! Keep up the great work. Kind regards, too!🙏

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I‘m guessing most who blog about the need to let the ego go have the same difficulties m we all do in doing so. But I agree that keeping your ego grounded is critical – especially for a pilot 😂.
        The nature of our consciousness is a subject of great interest to me. I’ll be sure to stop by and take a look in near future Art. Thanks again 🙏

        Like

  9. My first solo was definitely not my finest hour! It was not that incredible memory everyone keeps talking about. And then I had to wait four weeks for the next solo, while weather and instructor and my confidence lined up. Now that one, that was classic. I was having such fun, but he called me in after three glorious landings.
    Thanks for a lovely post. And all the best for your flying.
    Nushin Elahi at fun2fly.blog

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My pleasure. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience. Yes I remember that the second and third times we much better than the first as well. Once you’ve overcome that fear and gained a bit more confidence then things really start to take off! I’ll be sure to take a look at your blog. Kind regards, AP2 🙏

      Like

  10. A well-written, fun, and interesting blog post. My scariest moment was when I posted my first blog post on my new blog in the summer of 2019. I felt utterly alone, nervous, and ridden with the fear of not being good enough to write in American English rather than my native language, Danish.

    Today, I have 62 followers, write weekly, and enjoy the flight.

    I´m sure you will succeed.

    Best regards

    Henriette Pedersen, Denmark

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Hanriette. Pressing that publish button is clearly a fear more of us have than I realised! Putting our work and ourselves out there – it takes courage.

      Keep up the good work. Keep doing what you are for the right reasons. And, above all else, make sure you enjoy the journey!

      I’ll try to do the same.

      Kind regards, AP2 🙏

      Like

  11. Congratulations brother. I’d say everything new I do gives me anxiety especially in a place I have to be among other people. My introverted nature fights back real hard. It also doesn’t help that I’m an empath. Every single social situation gives me anxiety but I take a deep breath, tighten my gut and face it head on…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Francis. Understanding our fears and anxieties are important- it doesn’t mean you’ll stop having them but it does mean that you can let them go and move ahead with what you know you must in spite of them. We must embrace our demons not live in their shadows.

      Like

    1. Thank you so much. I think there are many first solos in life. The first time you drive a car alone. First day at school. First day at a new job… Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Every time I start a new job I feel apprehensive, even if I am suited to the position. I am not someone who likes to stick around in places very long, and thus find it difficult if I am starting something which doesn’t have a definitive endpoint. (I guess this could be part of the reason I have yet to find the woman I will share life with, even though it’s something I long for.)

    The biggest thing I was terrified about, every single time, was when I was studying my teaching degree. On each of my placements, every single day I went into the classroom, especially knowing I was going to teach one or more lessons that day on my own, was a cause for pointless overthinking. At the end of each of those days I had brilliant memories of interactions with tremendous students, most often where I learned just as much as they did – if not more!

    This is a great first post for PO, and here’s to many, many more! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the best thing about being a teacher I’m guessing – like being a parent – you end up learning just as much as you end up teaching.

      Thank you Hamish – it’s connecting with people such as yourself that has made blogging such a rewarding pastime for me. I really appreciate all that you’ve shown and that you continue to show. Your words have helped me tremendously on this journey. Peace brother. Here’s to many, many more indeed 🙏😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With an open mind, an open heart, and open arms, we can learn so much more than simple intellectual knowledge. This is something I learn and re-learn every day on this wonderful earth of ours. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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