I am still working on a post about my developing perspective on flying every day, but until I can complete that train of thought I'll share some pictures I took today.
First, here is Dustin, who flew solo today for the first time in his life!
We started the day by practiceing various takeoff and landing techniques. It has been several weeks since we have done nothing but landings, and I wanted to be sure he was in the zone. Last week we flew a cross-country trip together, and I wanted to brush up a few skills I had seen on that flight. The flight before that one, I had decided he was ready to solo, but then a two week break set us back a little. Today, however, he was at the top of his game. I didn't bother telling him that there was a variable crosswind to 8 knots - words that would make a lot of pilots nervous. He flew the pattern perfectly each and every time, and was compensating without even thinking about it, so why bring it up?
I wanted to surprise him with the solo, because I didn't want him to overthink things, so when we taxied in to get some gas, I nonchalantly asked if he had gotten his medical yet, and if I could have it to make a copy for our files. One of the other CFIs asked if it was going to be a solo, and I said "no" so as not to ruin the surprise - we had just come in to get gas and use the head.
After getting back in the plane, and one final circuit around the pattern, I asked Dustin for his medical while we were taxing back to takeoff. He gave it to me, I signed it and his logbook, and then said "give me three normal landings" and jumped out.
He made three beautiful patterns, and the touchdowns were the best of the day. I really felt better about soloing my second student, and was a lot less nervous this time as I watched him climb away from the runway. I didn't have him fly with one of the other CFIs, this was entirely my own judgement call, and I knew it was the correct decision, even with the wind. Now, all we need is some better weather. Shortly after Dustin went home (to celebrate, I presume), the day turned into this and we aren't expecting anything better for about 48 hours.
Notice the red and white plane, N1868V, which comes into view tied-down near the the grass when the camera pans left. It is a new plane for the flight school, a 1975 Skyhawk. She flys true, climbs well, and is quite fast with the wheel pants on.