Oct 25 2010

Night Flying – Been a While

Category: Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:44 am

It has been a while since my last blog post because it has been a while since I’ve flown.  Things have been crazy busy with work, along with enjoying the unseasonably warm weather on the boat/water, instead of in the plane/air.  Finally I got to fly this past Friday evening – and it was great to get back in the sky.  My wife and I flew down to our usual fly-in date place, Pilot Pete’s restaurant at Schaumburg airport.  I bolted home from work so we could make it to Schaumburg before the sun went down.  It had been over 90 days since my last night flight – so I knew after dinner I’d have to do 3 full-stop takeoffs and landings alone before Lisa could join me back to Westosha.  The flight to Schaumburg was fine, skies were very clear , winds calm, and the landing was smooth.  Dinner was great (as always) as night set upon us.

After dinner I left Lisa down in the little terminal area while I did my 3 laps.  It was nice to practice at a fairly well-lit airport – all three full-stop TOLs went fine and my confidence was up.  I picked up Lisa and drizzle began to fall.  I was surprised by this rain because skies appeared clear and weather reports (along with my pre-flight briefing) called for clear skies and no precipitation.  After looking at my trusty iPhone weather map, it looked like just a small raincloud above the O’Hare area so we decided to continue back home.  The flight back was fine, but apparently some very high-level clouds were creeping in, causing drizzles along the way.  I wasn’t concerned because visibility was still great (20+ miles easily), and the clouds were very high, probably at 20,000 feet.  Nevertheless, the cloud cover did block the almost-full moon, causing the Westosha area to be PITCH DARK – and the winds starting picking up.  I radioed the lights on at Westosha and those dim lights were the ONLY things we saw around there – it was DARK.  I’m sure glad I had practiced just minutes before, otherwise that final landing would have been EXTREMELY stressful.  Happily, my glide and approach was on the money, and the landing was quite smooth, even with the light rain and small gusts of wind.  No doubt, the law to have recent night landings before taking up passengers is a good one!  The rain stopped as I fueled up and we were able to tie up the plane without getting wet.

All-in-all, a fun night.  I logged 1.3 hours of pilot-in-command time – 0.8 being night.