Solo flights will be integrated into this phase of training and will depend on the order and content of dual flights as well as the capabilities of the individual student.
It is recommended that all solo routes be carefully chosen by the instructor to minimise problems such as airspace, lack of ground features or high ground, unless these problems are intended to give the student specific practice.
Students should only ever be sent on a solo cross-country flight where their competence matches the requirements of the planned route, their planning has been carefully checked, they are thoroughly briefed, the weather is suitable with healthy margins and the flight is properly supervised.
The first solo landing away from the home airfield should not be to any aerodrome at which the student has not previously landed dual, and should not present problems such as short runways, unfamiliar air traffic services or crosswinds.
As part of the supervision a “Sign-out Checklist” is recommended to ensure all aspects of the flight have been checked and briefed by the supervising instructor. An example can be found at Appendix 2 and can be used or adapted to local requirements.
Students should be encouraged to carry a phone, money or credit cards, a coat (even in summer) and a small overnight bag. This will make the decision to divert or turn back to an airfield other than the home airfield, or possible overnight much easier.
Whenever the student takes the decision to divert or wait out the weather on the ground, this must always be met with positive reinforcement from the instructor, even if the weather seemed suitable.
During the solo flight, the supervising instructor should monitor weather and conditions such as issues at the airfield. If equipped, the student’s progress can also be monitored with aircraft tracking devices.
At completion of the solo flight, a debrief should always take place and the student’s map and Navigation Log checked. A great deal of learning and confidence building will take place on these solo cross-country flights, and the debriefing is essential to ensure good practice is reinforced and errors or problems are thoroughly discussed.