CESSNA 175 SOLO PLANE
Grand Prairie Airport, Grand Prairie, Texas
An extremely personal airplane for me -- the one in which I performed my first solo flight. It was June 22, 1969, an extremely blustery day with winds out of the southwest at 20mph, gusting to 30mph. My flight instructor, Carl Frenzel, and I had just completed the day's lessons in turns and eights around a pylon, and had headed back for the airport. The wind was a quartering crosswind, which didn't present too much of a problem, and we taxiied back to the ramp for what I thought was the end of the lesson. Suddenly, Carl said, "Hey, drop me off at the terminal. I need a Coke." Okay, I thought. Sure. I taxiied over to the terminal, Carl opened his door and got out, and said, "Okay, take her around the patch a few times. Gimme three touch-and-goes." Huh? As the full impact of what he was suggesting hit me, I calmly said, "Sure," and taxiied back out to the end of the runway. I gave her the gas, crabbed a bit to the right for the crosswind, and we were off. Turning right prior to entering onto the downwind leg, I happened to look over and saw the right seat was empty. Holy cow! I was on my own!!! It was just me and the airplane and I was doing just fine. Turning onto final approach, I could feel the airplane was a little light, but no problem. I flared out over the numbers and chirp!, we were down. Two more times around "the patch" and I taxiied up to the terminal to pick up Carl. "Nice job!" he said. "Thanks," was all I could muster. Somewhat bemused by my calm approach to the current event, he said, "You know, there was a guy in there asking 'What kid of fool would be out flying on a day like this?' I told him, 'That's my student, and I just let him go.' His jaw dropped down to his belt buckle and he ran right out and jumped in his own plane and took off." I was stunned -- more so than when he'd gotten out of the plane and kicked me out of the nest. That is indeed one day I'll remember the rest of my life.
Before I ever took one flying lesson, I helped Carl rebuild and paint 52 Bravo, as she's called in radio lingo, and it was a source of pride for me to solo in her. Back in those days, she had a nose wheelpant, though. I still think she's a beautiful ship, nose wheelpant or no nose wheelpant.