Now that the nights are dark I have decided it is time to get signed of for flying in the dark, so yesterday I had Night Rating: Lesson 1.
So the first thing you can see from the picture is that it is dark, really dark. The only things that are really available to navigate by are the built up areas and major roads. Everything else just looks like a black abyss that you don’t really want to head into. One exception however is emergency services flashing blues, they look awesome!
At least the plane had a backlight panel .. oh wait no it didn’t. Instead my instructor and I had head torches with red lights in them, the red light allows you to keep your night vision.
Cranfield (the airport I fly from) is open until 6.30pm on a week day and as night is officially starting around 4:50 this seems like a good time to get it done as it can be done in just a few days.
I had dragged my instructor back from his job flying the fancy Pilatus PC 12 around Europe and instead convinced him that the mighty Cessna 152 is where he should be spending his time. To be fair, he was happy to do it (I think).
When we took of it wasn’t too windy we climbed to 2500ft and then leveled off and then did some turns. There isn’t much to report here, just one turn to the left and one turn to the right.
Next up I was told to look down and then he would move the plane around and ask me what I think he did. This was to show me that the “seat of the pants” sense couldn’t always be trusted (looks like Human Performance is coming in handy).
From here we did a navigation flight before returning back to Cranfield to do a landing.
By now the wind was gusting up to 22kts and my instructor told me the best approach was flaplesss, I hadn’t done one of these since my test (months ago) so here I was doing a flapless landing, in the dark, with the wind gusting and a crosswind … great.
On the first approach I was too high so in the words of my instructor “Don’t try to save a landing in the dark” so I did a go around and set myself up again. This one went better, I did land a bit long but apart from that it wasn’t bad at all. I never really did have too many issues with crosswind landings.
On the after landing checklist I found one issue which was “landing light – off” erm I don’t think so, you can’t actually see anything if you do that!
1.6 hours of night in the book. My instructor says tomorrow we will do some night circuits, lets just hope the wind isn’t as strong!
I also found this great PDF on night flying.