I am now on check solo with the club, requiring a dual check with an instructor before each solo flight (5 in total before going to daily checks), so I had my first check flight, which the instructor considered as "a bit mechanical". He suggested a second check flight immediately, saying "you can be smoother Brian", and I was smoother on tow, doing coordinated turns this time and with a much smoother landing. He signed me off for solo and then the waiting started.
It wasn't too busy a day at the club - only one Air Experience Flight (AEF) booked for 12 noon and only three students including myself competing for two training aircraft (our ASK-21 and the ASK-13). The AEF didn't turn up, so it was not a long wait before I was able to go up.
The day had improved somewhat and the flight before mine had managed a 50 minute flight, with the instructor indicating that there was a little lift around (1-2 knots) but you needed to work for it. On my first and second check flights there were a few scattered Cu's, but not far above them, clear small lenticular clouds, indicative of wave. The two airmasses were crossing each other and making things bumpy underneath. By the time I lifted off for my solo flight (only my second at Camden) things had changed and there were larger dark Cu's in an overcast sky (higher cloud) with some blue patches.
Takeoff and tow were those wonderful sensations of lightness and bouyancy from being one person in a two-seater. Quickly got to 3,000 and bunged off and then started wandering about the sky. On this initial flight I had no more plans than making sure I did more than a circuit. I knew I could fly a circuit by myself, I now wanted to see if I could get around the sky and stay up by myself.
I was ecstatic and had to keep checking that I wasn't all tensed up. A couple of times I found myself with my legs and feet braced as though I was riding a horse and I had to remind mysefl to relax and enjoy things. It took me about 40 minutes before everything smoothed out and I really calmed down and actually enjoyed the sensation of flying about and seeing the sights. I ended up thermalling south of the downwind end of the runway, seeing a single-seater and the K-13 flying beneath me. Lovely.
After almost an hour I thought I should return the glider so others could enjoy the day. The problem now was to lose all the height I had built up. I flew upwind, finding lots of lift, but not pursuing it. Over Camden I circled to lose some height, but I was surprised how long it took me to get back down to joining height.
And as is usual with probably every gliding club in the world, downwind and base were a sea of lift. I had to extend downwind a lot more than I'm used to because I'd lost little height in downwind, so I had a nice long final down to a smooth and pleasant landing.
At one hour 8 minutes, it was my longest flight so far, and even more satisfying was starting to work out that I can do more than just fly a circuit - that I may actually be able to fly a glider successfully by myself!