A perfect day. Clear skies, no weather issues. Brandon pulled out his phone and took a selfie outside his Cessna. He wanted to commemorate the occasion. His first solo flight.
Brendon checked to make sure his plane was prepared for his first solo flight. The visual inspection showed nothing that would keep him grounded, next he checked the controls. He scanned the list and began checking off each item, auxiliary fuel pump, flight controls, instruments, radios, landing gear, fuel gages, altimeter, trim, flaps, the list went on. Before takeoff the doors needed to be locked. Brandon needed to be sure he checked that off or he would fail and not be permitted to solo. The sweat dripped from his brow because he knew his instructor watched his preflight routine, perhaps looking for a reason to fail him.
Brandon shook his head. He would never let that happen. He checked his go bag to make sure it contained his pilot certificate, his ID, and medical certificate. All necessary before he could take off.
Although he would only fly in the pattern his instructor coached him on, he’d be the one in charge, making the decisions without being told what to do. Sure he would have his instructor with him making sure he could handle it, the landings, performing based on the conditions, taxiing, using the equipment, but after the his instructor’s review and solid landings, he would be on his own, flying the big blue skies. The goal he worked toward for almost a year.
He needed to be sure. Brandon checked again. His instructor sat there taking notes but saying nothing. Must be part of the test. Before he radioed the tower, he surveyed the runway, all clear. Although his checklist took only fifteen minutes, it seemed like hours passed by. Brendon wiped the sweat from his hands onto his pants and trembled in anticipation. Who wouldn’t be nervous on their first solo flight.
Brandon closed his eyes and radioed the tower for takeoff. The wait seemed like it took forever but only a few seconds passed. After his instructor deemed him ready, he would fly solo. Something he would remember for the rest of his life.
“Brandon, you’re ready. We’ll be in the tower watching as you take your first solo flight. Relax and enjoy it. Congratulations.”
“Thank you, sir. See you shortly.”
Watching his instructor cross the runway heading to the tower, it hit him. He would be alone and in charge for the first time. Really in charge. No one to tell him what to do. No one to point out mistakes.
Brandon switched to the local tower frequency. Before taking the wheel, he wiped his hands one more time. He inhaled deeply as the sweat rolled down his face and keyed his mike.
“Belletown Tower, this is Cessna 527 Tango Charlie November, ready at Runway 2.”
“Tango Charlie November, roger, cleared for takeoff, wind direction North, Northwest, twenty-five miles per hour.”
Finally. Brandon taxied down the runway and lifted off on his first flight. His heart pounded harder as he climbed to his cruising altitude of five thousand feet.
As he banked his first turn his obstruction warning light came on. Brandon looked around and saw nothing. No buildings, no other planes, not even a bird. He’d checked everything before taking off, several times. All his instruments functioned properly.
“Belletown Tower, this is Cessna 527 Tango Charlie November, I have an obstruction warning light flashing but I don’t see anything out there—wait the entire instrument cluster is flashing.”
“Repeat Tango Charlie November, what is your issue?”
This couldn’t be happening. Brandon blinked, shook his head, and gasped for air. “Belletown Tower—Need help—Can’t breathe—Please—”
Everything went black.