Mission Aviation Fellowship

How many First Solos have you sent?

In a call-out to all flight instructors, FTN is intrigued to learn the number of students FIs have sent on their first solo flight over the course of their careers and who might claim the current record?

One of the most daunting experiences for an FI is the first time they send a student off on their first solo circuit and landing. It’s also one of the most rewarding, of course. It’s also a rite of passage for a newly graduated FI, who retains a ‘restricted’ licence until they have supervised at least 25 student solo flights (not necessarily first solos) and gained 100 hours instructional experience under the supervision of a more experienced FI, before becoming ‘unrestricted’.

First solos ending in an incident, such as a hard landing and subsequent nose gear collapse are extremely rare, but not entirely unheard of. Perhaps the most harrowing experience this reporter can recall was the occasion when a student was sent off on her first solo, only to be stung by a bee that had strayed into the cockpit. The sting happened when the student was established downwind in the circuit. Despite being highly allergic to bee stings and briefly passing out on final approach, she nonetheless managed to execute a textbook first solo landing, and was sensible enough to have brought some antihistamine with her, so all ended well.

Returning to the topic of how many first solos an FI might expect to send off during their career, an early contender is Dave Scott-Morgan, a long time FI at South Warwickshire Flying School (SWFS), located at Wellesbourne Mountford Aerodrome.

Dave learnt to fly in 1974 and has been a part-time FI at SWFS since 1989. He only instructs on a part time basis, generally Fridays and Saturdays, as well as on flying scholarship courses conducted by the school during the summer months.

As a commercial pilot, Dave flew for Air Taxis Ltd at Birmingham, conducting charter and traffic reporting flights. He later became part owner of the business before selling it on to a jet operator. He also runs an aviation software business which is used by small charter operators.

Those with an ear for Brummie rock music may also be aware of Dave, whose music career began in the 1960s with bands including Magnum where he played bass guitar. He also played guitar for the Ugly’s, and subsequently achieved wider recognition when his songs were recorded by groups such as The Move, and Wishful Thinking, amongst others. From 1981 to 1986, Dave played with The Electric Light Orchestra (better known as ELO), on guitar, synth, and vocoder, as well as singing back-up vocals.

At the time of writing, Dave has sent 84 student pilots off on their first solos. So, our challenge to our FI readership is: Who’s got him beat?

Author: FTN Editor

Share This News On