Alex Foster's First Solo

Last edited: 2 May 2023, 1:18pm

Words Alex Foster | Images Martin Hughes

There is nothing quite like the feeling when you are left alone at the controls of a plane for the first time. As you taxi the small plane back to the start of the runway for take-off, leaving your instructor behind to stroll back to the hangars, you feel a real mix of emotions – excitement, trepidation, a feeling of disbelief that the day for your ‘first solo’ has finally arrived.

Then the training kicks in. From the moment you slide the throttle forward you are focused on the job of flying the plane. Hours of practice guide your hands and feet on the controls. The plane wants to fly, and it feels like you’re just helping it along.

One ‘circuit’ around the airport takes all your concentration, but halfway through you snatch a moment to enjoy the view of Jindabyne and the lake stretching out before you in the autumn afternoon light.

For me, this is what it’s all about. Alpine Aviation Australia, the Flight Training Facility based at the Jindabyne Airfield, offers the perfect entry into the world of flying that appeals to me most. Not a career as an airline pilot, but flying-as-adventure. A chance to explore remote backcountry airstrips scattered around the mountains, to see my favourite ski resorts from the air or to head out to the coast for whale-watching at 500 feet above the water. 

I feel very privileged to be learning to fly at Alpine Aviation Australia. The excellent instructors, Martin Hughes and Kirk Amos, bring a wealth of experience, each drawing from their diverse backgrounds flying jets and gliders respectively. Their knowledge and patient instructing style make it well worth the trip from Canberra for a weekend of lessons.

As the wheels gently settle on the gravel strip and the plane rolls to a halt, the feeling of pride and fulfilment is immense. You have completed your first solo flight and you want nothing more than to push the throttle forward and head off into the air again. You are already looking towards the next challenge and, in aviation, the sky's the limit!

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