After nine lessons in flight school, Brooke is nearing one of her most important accomplishments: her first solo flight. At this point, she’s simply waiting until her flight instructor gives her the go-ahead.
“I’m on lesson nine right now, which is my solo lesson, so I’m just waiting around until Tim says I’m ready to solo,” Brooke said.
In the meantime, Brooke is studying traffic patterns and practicing touch-and-go landings and takeoffs as often as possible, anxiously awaiting her moment.
“You just have to practice,” Brooke said. “We were up in the air yesterday, and we were just going around in a circle, like three planes, all of us landing, going up and going in a circle. We barely had to say anything, just like, ‘Ok, going from base to final, one eight lima whiskey,’ and that’s pretty much it. Figuring out how to land, getting it at the perfect speed, and just kind of getting used to it.”
When she isn’t in flight school, Brooke is practicing what she can on her own time. Per her instructor’s request, she’s even pretending to fly while she’s in her car.
“Tim told me yesterday, he was like, ‘Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to sit in a seat and just go through the movements.’ I’m in my car right now, so I would sit here with my hands on the wheel and act like I’m flying, so I would go, ‘Okay, I’m downwind about to be parallel with the numbers, so I’m going to go ahead and make sure that I’m at 80-85 miles per hour, then I’m going to go ahead and put one flap in.’”
Brooke is the first to admit that she may not quite be ready for her solo flight, as her landings could still use some work, but she’s confident that she’s almost there.
“I can tell I’m not 100 percent there yet,” Brooke said, “because the plane is lopsided, and I’ll try to correct it, and he ends up just correcting it for me. I think once it gets to the point where he’s literally just sitting in the airplane and doesn’t have to do anything, and I think he’s pretty close to that, but sometimes he’ll take over because he just wants to get it done.”
It isn’t the mental aspect of piloting that Brooke thinks she needs to work on, but the muscle memory that only comes with experience. That experience has been hard to come by, due in large part to time constraints that her full-time job has caused.
“Mentally, I think I’m ready,” Brooke said, “but I’ve just got to get my muscle memory down. That’s why he’s telling me to practice it, but you can’t really practice unless you’re in the actual airplane, so it is kind of challenging.”
Brooke is also confident that, if given an opportunity to solo, instinct would take over and she’d do just fine.
“I’m not nervous to solo anymore, because I know that if I were just put in that seat, I’d be like, ‘Okay, I have to do this,’” she said. “The hardest part for me is keeping my wings level when I’m about to land. I’ll hit gust of wind and Tim has to take it to put me back on course. Just stuff like that, where it’s random stuff that happens.”
After her first solo flight, Brooke will eventually move on to night flights and cross-country flights. The night flights are something she’s looked forward to since day one.
“I’ll have to do some night flights, which will be super awesome,” Brooke said. “That’s hands down one of the things I’m most excited for. I have to do some night flights, then I’m going to be doing some cross countries, which has to be at least 50 nautical miles. I’ll fly to the Lampasas airport, probably, then fly back to Georgetown.”
For now, Brooke is just biding her time, waiting for her name to be called.