All those who have soloed, and those who anxiously await the memorable day, will enjoy reading Barbara Kirmsse’s 1st solo account. Thanks Barbara for all the wonderful pictures and description of your 1st solo flight!!

Tail Up and Ready to Take Off

December 7th has a new meaning to me as well as reminding me of the enormous impact that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had on our nation! 12-7-11 is the day of my very first solo flight! This day can never be duplicated. Making it even sweeter is the fact that I soloed in a tail dragger…..an Aeronca Champ 7GC!

Lifting into Solo Flight for the 1st Time!

When I woke up on the morning of December 7th to sunshine and little wind….I knew this was the day! I was so excited and full of anticipation……and so ready! I wanted to do this. My instructor, Walt, met me at Flabob Airport at 11:00 A.M. With Walt in the back seat, I warmed up with five pretty nice take offs and landings. The time had come….Walt gave me one last instruction……..let him off at the end of the runway and to “HAVE FUN!”

Walt, Are You Back There?

When he exited the Champ and closed the door it was so quiet I could hear my own heart pounding! It was then that I realized that I wasn’t alone…that God was my copilot and Walt had thoroughly prepared me for this moment. I calmed down and concentrated on the task at hand. My Bill was there at the airport but tried to stay hidden so I wouldn’t be distracted. Are you kidding!!?!?!!…..I saw his truck behind those airplanes!!!! I was so happy he was there and….I was focused!!! The scene was set! ……Lights, Camera, Action!

Way Up High, Up In The Sky!

I announced “Flabob Traffic, Champ 9872Yanky, Departing Runway 24, Student Pilot…first solo flight, Flabob Traffic”!!!! Then I was on my way rolling down the runway, dancing on the rudders, rotating into solo flight. What an exhilarating feeling as the wind caught my wings and lifted my little Champ into the air! Everything went extremely well and as planned. I was amazed at the courtesy and encouragement the other pilots in the area gave me during my three solo take offs and landings. “Take your time, Champ” and “Whew Who” were some of the in flight acknowledgements.

First Solo Landing

It was on my way home from the airport that day that I called my dad and mom. They intuitively knew by the tone of my “Hello” that I had successfully accomplished my first solo! They were so excited and happy for me….gushing with loving congratulations! I had to laugh when I remembered the day I told my mom that I was almost ready to solo. She immediately said… “Well, your instructor will still be in the back seat, won’t he?” She wasn’t too happy with my answer!

Aaaah!!! The Autographed Tee Shirt!

My day was even more special due to the support of all my airport buddies who were there to take pictures and to cheer me on! They all helped to make this one of my most memorable days ever!

Barbara Kirsmme

9 Comments

  1. Tom Maxwell
    January 20, 2012, 12:52 pm   /  Reply

    My Warmest Congratulations, Barbara, on your first solo. As you may remember, I live in Sun City, just south of Riverside – about 18 miles south of March Air Reserve Base on the 215. I suppose it’s a little more than an hour from Alta Loma. It was at March, in 1967, when I was stationed there as a 2nd Lt., that I joined the Aero Club (Which is still there), and soloed in a Cessna Cardinal NOT a Taildragger, of course!

    I still remember the thrill, and the feeling of confidence and accomplishment that I felt that beautiful sunny California afternoon – as you know now, there’s absolutely nothing like it! The pride of accomplishment and the joy of flying – – I went on to be a Combat Pilot in the U.S. Air Force, serving 23 years and retiring as a Lt. Col., with about 6,300 hours.

    Again, Congratulations on your achievement, and may you have many hours of pleasure as you continue to fly. One important piece of advice: Try not to get your scarf caught in the rudder, O.K.?? !!

    Warmest Regards,
    Tom Maxwell

  2. Lisa Martin
    December 19, 2011, 9:55 am   /  Reply

    That’s awesome! What a treasure that you have all your thoughts and feelings written down too. I’m one of the few that doesn’t remember my first solo in great detail. I wish I would have journalled about it. So, I love to read and hear other people’s stories fresh with the exhileration of solo flight 🙂

    • January 20, 2012, 10:40 am   /  Reply

      Thanks so much, Lisa! I just saw the posting of my solo…we were in Hawaii for Christmas and missed it and unfortunately the messages from my very special lady taildragger pilots. Judy gives us such a wonderful way to document our amazing feats!

  3. Gayle
    December 19, 2011, 12:01 am   /  Reply

    I love this story! Especially the part about telling your mom you were almost ready to solo….my mom answered exactly the same way! She told me not to tell her beforehand. It all worked out fine, I soloed on Dec. 14th 2011 in an Aeronca L-16A (just like your Champ) and my mom found out later that day. I think she was very proud after the fact. Congratulations!!

    • January 20, 2012, 10:43 am   /  Reply

      Hi Gayle….Moms are the best, aren’t they! I am so lucky to still have both of my parents. They celebrated there 70th wedding anniv in 2011 and are still in love! Thank you so much for you kind words.

  4. tina thomas
    December 18, 2011, 6:27 pm   /  Reply

    WHht a wonderful day for you Barbara! All the more special in a Taildragger!

    • January 20, 2012, 10:49 am   /  Reply

      Thank you Tina for your words of encouragement. Yes…I will cherish my memories of that day as all of our ladies on this site do! The best to you…..

  5. Anne Wright
    December 18, 2011, 11:36 am   /  Reply

    Congratulations, Barbara! What a wonderful accomplishment, something you will always remember and cherish. Every pilot remembers their first solo in every detail, and yours is special – in a taildragger!

    • January 20, 2012, 10:55 am   /  Reply

      Anne….it means the world to me to hear from ladies like you who share the love of flying taildraggers! I am planning for my first dual cross country….however, I’ve been flying a Champ at my flight club but we just bought a Luscombe so as soon as I can solo the new (old) plane I will continue with my cross country adventure! Thanks again for your kind words!

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