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Air Sports

First Soloes

In every trainee pilot's life there comes eventually the unforgettable and magic moment of his first solo flight .

As evidenced by my flight logbook below, on September 7th, 1983, after a 22nd lesson of 42' on P-19 I-ALCE my instructor Bruno Valmori, former IAF Captain and F-104 pilot, finally asked me the fateful question:

"Do you feel like doing it on your own?"

Aviamilano P-19 Scricciolo (Wren)

I gulped and hesitantly replied: "OK". We landed, the instructor got out of the aircraft and I took off for a 12' RH airfield circuit, alone in the cockpit for the very first time after 14h 45' of dual flights.

When I proudly related my accomplishment to my father a few days later, he pooh-poohed it saying:

"I had MY first solo after only 5 hours"

I was duly humbled, and thought: "Oh well, you were 18 and I 40, it stands to reason".

Time goes by and in 1990 my father receives in the mail a bulky package from the Air Force Command Headquarters in Milan, containing several service documents and HIS pre-war RIAF flight logbook. Apparently, they were no longer interested in keeping the records of a 72 y.o. former military pilot.
Obviously, I eagerly examined his logbook entries, which record that he first soloed on April 27nd, 1936, his 116th flight on a Caproncino trainer, after 9h 15'! When confronted with this incontrovertible documentary evidence, my father stubbornly maintained his position saying:
Caproni Ca 100 (Caproncino)
"All our training flights were routinely marked down as having a duration of 5 minutes, but I did mine in half that time"

While the first part may actually be true as his logbook entries show, I seriously doubted the second part: one can hardly take off and land in 2'30" for a "mezzo giro campo" (a half circuit) even on a grass airfield.

Anyway, I let the matter rest, only concluding in my mind that one-upmanship was irresistible to him .

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