Friday, October 10, 2008

Lesson 26: The moon above and the city lights below

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Clear, 63 degrees, wind 080 degrees at 5 knots

Night flight - finally! I've been excited for this moment and all the anticipation was warranted. It's a beautiful sight, the air is crystal clear and smooth, and it's almost like you have the whole place to yourself up there. You do have to be more careful to watch your altitude and instruments and look out for things like towers, but it's a great time to fly. Plus, I got to take off from our little grass strip that we mark with oil lanterns and there's just something cool and nostalgic about that.

I lifted off and headed West and it took me a few minutes to pick out Wright Brothers' rotating beacon (white flash, green flash) that let me know an airport was over there. Clicking the microphone button to turn on the lights, I brought them to full intensity. Dave said I wouldn't believe how bright they were - and he was right. They're somewhat directional so you can't tell until you're on final and it's like you're landing into the sun. Ok, slight exaggeration but it's much more light than necessary. I clicked them down to low and used that setting for the remainder of the flying.

I made normal takeoffs and landings, along with a bunch of short field takeoffs. My first couple weren't great but I made some awesome ones in Middletown, where we flew after practicing at MGY. I tried a couple landings with the landing light off, as that's what I would see if my bulb ever burned out. Your depth perception gets a little screwed up and you feel higher, so I smacked into the ground a little harder than gently. But even the light-out landings were decent.

We had a little fun in the absence of any traffic, making what Dave likes to call the F-150 departure. After lifting off you accelerate down the runway about 10 feet up until you're at 80 or 90 knots, then pull back and make a steep climb. He did it once and then I did the same on our final departure before heading home. Good times.

Flying back to Waynesville, it takes a good eye to find a field that's being lit by 18 little lanterns. Yet it did suddenly appear in front of me (I knew where I was from a lot of the local stadium lights - yay for Friday night high school football) and I entered the pattern. Dave cautioned me not to turn base early and I began the turn where I normally do, or so I thought. With the full moon, I could see the tree lines on the ground and even our shadow. Still, I ended up way high on final so all 40 degrees of flaps got dumped in and we landed long but with runway to spare.

I'm definitely addicted to night flying already and am really looking forward to our night cross-country tomorrow. The plan is to fly up North towards Wapakoneta (best name for a town ever, by the way) and land at Lakefield Airport (CQA). I was fortunate to have a more than half-full moon tonight so I could see features on the ground, which certainly helps. Hopefully I'm able to take advantage and put it to use tomorrow as I navigate to a new airport in the dark!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.7 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 14.6 hours
Total Time: 47.7 hours

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