Made a serious detour on the way back from Crewe to see if I could finally bag this (very) slippery customer .
The first time we looked for it, it was too dark to see much and we missed it. The second time, it was not in it's hiding place. Third time lucky though - I found it in one of the places I checked out last time.
Now for the promised story of my first solo:
I had about 11 hours flying time under my belt and was learning to fly on Piper Tomahawk's with Liverpool School Of Flying at (you guessed it) Liverpool Airport.
A normal lesson consisting of circuits was planned with my instructor, Phil. I'd done about 3-4 reasonable take off's and landings and Phil suddenly asked ATC if we could land and leave the runway so he could get out. I immediately had a serious case of butterflies in the stomach as I realised I was about to do my first solo .
I landed and taxied to a safe place to drop Phil off. I was told to do just one circuit (i.e. one take off and one landing) as they don't like you to do more than this on your first solo.
I called up ATC and asked for taxi clearance. I was cleared to the holding point of runway 27. All too soon I was cleared for take off and I pushed the throttle forward, thinking to myself that I had better get this right as there is no-one there to help if I make a mistake.
All went smoothly and I was soon coasting out over the Mersey and turning left on my crosswind leg towards Ellesmere Port. I was thinking the plane was feeling really sprightly, which was obviously because I did not have the weight of my instructor in the plane.
A quick left turn onto the downwind leg and a call to ATC: "Golf Foxtrot Alpha is downwind to land, runway 27". I was cleared to continue to base-leg and started my pre-landing checks, going over it twice just in case I missed anything out the first time (I hadn't).
As I was turning onto base-leg, just before the Runcorn Bridge, ATC cleared me to land. I coasted in over Hale Lighthouse, turned left to line up with the runway and made one of the best landings I've ever done .
As I turned off the runway, ATC congratulated me on my first solo - what an absolutely fantastic feeling . I taxied over to my instructor and picked him up before taxying back to the flying school, which was at the time on the remains of the old Speke airport round the corner.
Back at the flying club I was presented with a lovely certificate (which I still have on my office wall) and a bottle of fizzy wine to celebrate.
I'm sure you are all fast asleep by now, but I've enjoyed reliving the memories of that day .
Oh, and thanks for the cache - I enjoyed finding it in the end!