Not long after your first solo, your instructor will authorize you to fly on your own — still alone, of course. But you'll have to take more responsibility for weather decisions, evaluating the wind, and other decision that until this point were made by, or in conjunction with, your flight instructor. Accurate information and a thorough understanding will help you to better execute these responsibilities.
- I have had some practice in windy conditions and I am pretty comfortable, but how will I know when it is too windy to go flying without my instructor?
- Is it OK to execute a go-around from a bad approach while on final, or from base to final, or do I have to wait until I'm close in?
I have had some practice in windy conditions and I am pretty comfortable, but how will I know when it is too windy to go flying without my instructor?
Remember that your instructor supervises your first few solo flights. Your instructor most likely will not let you fly solo on a day when the winds are too strong; nor will the flight school dispatch an aircraft to you. If the winds start to increase in speed after you take off, another runway may be the best option. Often your instructor will establish wind limits for you; if winds exceed that amount you can't solo. Such limits may be raised incrementally as your skills develop.
There is information on the different types of wind indicators on our website. Wind direction indicators include windsocks, tetrahedrons, and wind Ts. Remember that windsocks point downwind, so you want to land or take off by flying from the small end of the windsock to the large end. Tetrahedrons point into the wind, so you want to take off and land in the direction the tetrahedron is pointing. The wind T looks like an airplane, so takeoffs and landings are made in the same direction that the "airplane" is pointing. Additionally, there are unofficial wind indicators such as flags, waves on ponds, and crop movement that can give you an idea of wind speed and direction.
Is it OK to execute a go-around from a bad approach while on final, or from base to final, or do I have to wait until I'm close in?
Yes. If you feel your approach is not right, add full power and go around. It is better to feel good about your approach to the runway instead of forcing a landing. You can execute a go-around from any point in the pattern. Make the go-around procedure the rule, at least in your mind, rather than the exception. Look for a reason, any reason, to savor the thrill of flight a few moments longer by taking another trip around the traffic pattern. Land only if everything is under control — otherwise, go around.
Yes, you can. Changes to the federal aviation regulations that took effect on August 4, 1997, clarified this point. A person may log PIC time when they are the sole occupant of the aircraft, and this applies to student pilots as well. FAR 61.51(e)(4) says, "A student pilot may log pilot-in-command time when the student pilot (i) Is the sole occupant of the aircraft; (ii) Has a current solo flight endorsement as required under [FAR] 61.87; and (iii) Is undergoing training for a pilot certificate or rating. So be sure to log all of your applicable solo time as PIC time."