First Solo Shirt Modification


New Member
Does anybody know what the tradition of cutting the back of the shirt is about. My girlfriend is getting ready to solo and can't find a shirt she's willing to part with. I remember having it done, but never found anybody who knew what it was about.
So what if she loses ONE shirt!!!! It just changes the shirt from something she'll probably wear for another year and forget about into something she will keep and remember for the rest of her life.
As an instructor I don't cut shirts...probably because mine wasn't cut. I've heard that cutting the shirt represents a clipping of the wings so the student doesn't get to bold to leave the nest too early.

Alright guys, you're missing the point. I could give a sh.. less about the shirt. In fact, I'd like to suggest a couple to her. I am really just curious about the tradition.
"No one knows the origin, exactly, of when it became the custom to cut the shirttail off of a fledgling student pilot's shirt, but it's a tradition that's still practiced by thousands of instructors on the occasion of the student's first solo flight. Some say it's from the old days of open tandem cockpits, where the instructor sat in the rear seat and the student sat in the front seat. To get the student's attention, the instructor would lean forward and tug on the student's shirttail. Solo flight equals no instructor, hence, no need for shirttail tugging."

Thats what fs2004 says about it.
My shirt didn't get clipped after my first solo. In fact, the only person who came out to meet my plane was my dad! (He was the director of maintenance at the flight school.) I found my instructor in his office doing paperwork. All he did was look up and say "Oh, you're back already?"
The tradition actually goes back to the days of the cavalry, I don't remember the details. It was carried over into the aviation world by early Army pilots and since then morphed into the 'instructor no longer needing to tug on student's shirt-tail to get their attention' version.