.Things turned out as expected and on 11th April, 1970, I went to the airport in Albury, the small city just across the river, and made enquiries. I was taken up in a Cessna 150 and taken for an introductory flight. The aim of that is simply to see whether a person is suited to flying and how they re-act in the air and briefly at the controls.
Up there in the sky I was in my element. I could not get over it that I was actually flying in a small plane that I could learn to fly alone. I clearly remember being taken over the spillway of the weir and seeing the water cascading over into the river below. There was no going back now.
The first few lessons were with the instructor being totally in control and pointing out what the various controls were for and how they worked. There was no question of me being permitted to fly the plane alone until I had mastered the requirements of the Flight Radiotelephone Operator Licence and the initial units of the theory of flying. I studied all with great enthusiasm and eagerly devoured all I learned.
Once familiar with the basics of flight and the instruments, I got into the rather boring routine of takeoffs and landings (also known as circuits and bumps). It was on the seventh day of doing takeoffs and landings, each lesson for one hour, that the instructor told me to stop the plane on the ground. He opened the door and got out and told me to do one circuit alone. I shuddered but he said, "I have not done anything the last two times you went around, so now you can do it solo."
I swallowed hard, took the plane to the end of the runway and did the normal prep for takeoff. Then I pushed in the throttle and the plane began to speed down the runway. Pick the point on the horizon. Watch the speedometer, and just at the right moment, pull back on the joy-stick and feel the plane rise off the ground and into the air. I was flying! I was flying alone!
Get to the correct height, turn 90 deg.left, gently, not too quick. Turn 90 deg. left again and fly along the side of the runway and a little further on. Turn 90 deg left again and when the runway was in line on the left, turn 90 deg left onto FINAL. This is the approach to land. Adjust the the ailerons and the throttle. Get the correct speed and rate of descent. Keep your eye on the speedometer and the altimeter. Aim at the white line at the end of the runway. Check the windsock. Know which way you are likely to drift. Ensure you land on the main under-carrIage, not the nose wheel. Keep the nose up as long as possible. The runway is almost here. Landing! Lower the nose gently. Close the throttle. Apply the brakes. Gain control of your aircraft and turn off the runway.
I had flown solo. I had actually done it, all alone, even if it had only been a single circuit.
The instructor was standing there waiting for me with a smile on his face.