Recently, I was asked about the extent to which a CFI should supervise the solo portion of a primary student's training. The inquiring CFI mentioned that other CFIs he knew would tell their students to get a few hours of solo time after their first solo, and then call the CFI when they were ready to fly dual again. Does that sound reasonable to you? It sure doesn't to me.
In my opinion, a primary student should never fly solo unless you know about it and he or she has received permission from you to make that specific flight on that specific day. All of my primary students must obtain my verbal permission to fly solo, and the permission is good for only 24 hours. I make sure I know the specifics of the flight as well as what that student intends to accomplish. In the back of their logbook, I delineate the parameters for solo flight based on a long list of specific requirements (i.e., max crosswind components, minimum visibilities, etc.). Then I make them sign the page, verifying that they understand and will abide by these requirements.
Of course, it may sound like I make all of my students do pushups before flying and salute at my arrival. Well, I don't. But I am legally and morally responsible for my students' safety. So are you. As I gain confidence in a student, I usually relax the requirements, giving more freedom as his or her aviation knowledge and judgment matures. When students are properly supervised, they feel more comfortable and safer during training. Does this mean that they don't develop confidence in their ability? Not at all. In fact, I'd argue that they are more confident because I help to guide them through the process of how to make good decisions.
By Rod Machado