Your connection with the sky

Night flying

Tonight I took my first flight lesson after daylight hours.  It definitely was a different experience than flying in the day time.  Dana and I scheduled to meet at the airport at 21:30; just a little after sunset.  While preflighting the aircraft, Dana explained some points to remember while flying at night.  At night, lights appear closer than they actually are.  Things 15 miles away will appear to be a lot closer (like 5 or so miles).  The saying altitude is your friend should be kept especially in mind at night.  During the day, it's a hell of a lot easier to see approaching terrain.  In the event of an emergency, you also have the luxury of identifying safe, open plots of land to utilize.  At night, everything becomes a black hole of mystery.  Keeping these points in mind, I started the airplane and activated the airport lights.  To conserve energy, the lights at Westosha (and most other small airports) are normally off unless a pilot turns them on.  To activate the lights, you simply press the transmit button 5 times.  Click Click Click Click Click and bam, the beacon, runway, taxiway, and approach lights burst with life.  We took off and stayed in the pattern to practice takeoffs and landings.  Most of the landings went pretty good.  I hadn't flown in almost a month so the landings were only sub-par.  After six landings Dana decided to show me another method of airport lighting.  He gave me vectors to Camp Lake airport (49C) and I brought N25351 down onto the grass runway very carefully.  With Camp Lake being a soft field (in addition to the 2 inches of rain that had been dumped on Wisconsin 3 hours ago) I kept the plane moving as we departed the small grass strip.  Small reflector poles helped mark the boundaries of the field.  We then climbed to 3,500 feet to practice a simulated engine failure.  It ended up close, but we made it back just fine.  With 8 night landings and one night hour under my belt, I'm well on my way to meeting my night requirements.  I think the biggest thing to remember when flying at night is to simply be alert.  You have a lot less reaction time at night because of the restricted visibility.  Thanks for reading and Happy Flying!!!

-Evan Krueger

2 Responses to “Night flying”

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