What is Three Papa Foxtrot?

Everyone remembers their first, right?. In this case it’s my first solo flight we’re talking about. She’s a Cessna Skyhawk 172R, commonly referred to as N113PF, or Three Papa Foxtrot for short. To make sure I never forget which plane it was, I took the name for this blog.

When I started my flight lessons in August 2013, one of my personal goals was to solo by my birthday in December. This seemed fitting since my discovery flight that got me hooked was a birthday gift the year before. My instructor mentioned around early November that I was close to meeting the pre-solo requirements, this was around 20 hours in. So I figured I’d have a few weeks to improve my landings and convince him I was ready and still hit my target. It didn’t take long to convince him that it was time. Now all we had to do it get Mother Nature to help out a bit. I was still flying but weather didn’t meet solo minimums for what seemed like forever.

The last attempt to meet my deadline was a day before my birthday. Winds exceeded the solo limits so more dual time. Oh well, I wasn’t that disappointed since I knew it would happen soon. I had been keeping my goal a secret since I didn’t want to push any pressure on others, but after that lesson I told my instructor. He was a bit bummed too.

On the day of my birthday I didn’t have a lesson scheduled. Before I even got out of bed, I received a text from my instructor saying he’s got a cancelation and the weather looks like it might be improving. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped out of bed and got ready faster (I’m definitely not a morning person). We did a couple of landings together to make sure I didn’t forget everything, I was a year older after all. We parked, I got my endorsements and away I went. This was at about 28 hours of dual time.

The objective was to perform 3 takeoff and full stop landings, staying in the pattern. First two landings included a little bunny hop, but wasn’t too bad. On the third one I ended up floating up too much so I went around. My excuse was that I just wanted more time since I was having so much fun. So that’s my first 0.6 hours of PIC time. Now it’s time to prepare for getting signed off to solo in the practice area and landing at a second airport within 25 miles.

Solo Cockpit

Solo with 3PF


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