Sunday, September 27, 2015

Night current under a supermoon

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MGY / MGY-40I
Weather: Clear, 70 degrees, wind 080 degrees at 9 knots

We're quickly approaching that time of the year when the sun falls below the horizon too early so tonight seemed like a great time to get night current again. I somehow managed to remain current nearly all of last year but this was the first time I flew past sunset in 2015; my last night flight was almost exactly one year ago. Factor in some potential trips over the next couple months and I figured it would be smart to be current - just in case.

The supermoon, quite the nice flashlight shining upon the ground below, was purely coincidental. I've been so busy lately that I honestly hadn't seen anything in the news about it until late this afternoon. Taking off from Stewart in the dwindling twilight I pointed the nose west and spotted the large lunar light rising in the east behind me.

Sunset at Stewart just prior to firing up the 172

Waiting on the ground at MGY with the supermoon rising in the east

I landed at Wright Brothers in a surprisingly stiff and direct crosswind, taxied over to the ramp, and shut down the engine. While I waited for the clock to tick towards the magical one hour past sunset mark (to appease the FAA's landing requirements for night currency purposes) I kept a close watch on the rising supermoon. Close to 8:30 pm I fired the engine back up, taxied to Runway 20, and proceeded to make three laps around the pattern.

This was probably the windiest conditions I've ever flown in at night. That's not to say it was very windy in the grand scheme of things, but winds tend to calm down quickly after sunset. It was good practice and I made three rather successful landings when all was said and done. Less than 30 minutes after I began, I had the plane parked, tied down, and was walking across the tarmac.

The supermoon eclipse from our front yard about 1.5 hours after landing

Gina drove me home (living about a mile from MGY sure is handy) and we had dinner, then wandered out into our front yard to view the moon. A few of our neighbors were outside and we all chatted while taking in the celestial spectacle. I grabbed my DSLR and snapped a few photos with the help of my tripod.

In the morning, Gina dropped me back off at the airport on her way to work. The temperature and dewpoint conspired to prevent an immediate departure; I ended up waiting about 45 minutes while the reported visibility bounced between 1 and 3 miles. Eventually it reached 4 miles and I departed - still technically MVFR but it was mainly due to some fog on the north side of the field that was finally burning off. After takeoff and level at 1,800 feet for the very short flight back to Stewart, the usual morning fog snaking through the valleys made for quite a sight.

Waiting for the fog to burn off before departing from Wright Brothers

One last look at the supermoon as it set on the western horizon

Condensation sliding across the windshield with morning fog to the east

Within minutes, I was over top of Stewart and descending to land on Runway 26. Wisps of fog were scattered around and I was glad to be landing directly away from the rising sun. I landed softly on the grass and taxied back to the tiedown, hopped into my car, and drove to work.

I was about 90% of the way there when my tire pressure warning light came on.

Pulling over into a parking lot, I hopped out and spotted a giant screw through the sidewall of my left rear tire. Ugh - jack out, busted tire removed, spare installed, and packed back up, I was again on my way to work about 15 minutes later... and soon-to-be $800 poorer thanks to the new set of tires being installed on Wednesday.

That aside, it was still a great morning. Flying makes so many things better!

Today's Flight: 0.9 hours (night) / 0.5 hours (morning)
Total Time: 344.0 hours


  1. Night current? What is this night current that you speak of?

    Seriously, congrats on getting out there and getting current. Looking at MyFlightbook as I type this comment I see that I was last current November 2013. Yikes!!

    With the time change I will need to get out there and get it done. Sunset is now around 5pm and that doesn't leave much late afternoon fly time to get home, if I need to.

    Feel your pain on the tires. Haven't had a flat but my SUV just turned 64k on my Bridgestones. I'm getting four new sneakers with my next oil change in 1500 miles. I can't wait to see the price of four new 255/60R17's . :(

    1. Yep, that's my issue this time of year every year - no real time to fly except weekends once it gets dark so early. Thanks to the currency, if the weather cooperates, I may fly up to Kalamazoo and back for a weeknight football game in the coming weeks.

      To be fair, I could've bought cheaper tires, but the Michelins were definitely worth every penny. Car rides and handles better than when it was new now!