Thursday, August 4, 2011
Last night I headed to the airport to get caught up with my night currency. As a private pilot, in order to carry passengers at night, you must have preformed three takeoffs and landings at night (1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunset) in the last 90 days.
This was my first flight in four weeks, the longest I have gone without flying, it was also about six months since I had gone flying at night, and my first nighttime solo. I had forgotten the subtle differences that exist while flying at night. The horizon is dependent on the amount of ambient light available, including the moon, and lights from the ground. Last night, all I had was ground light, so when looking off to either side, I didn’t have a good feel for what my pitch attitude was. In one case I ended up a little nose high.
Another thing that I quickly remembered from my previous night training flights, is how hard it is to see the runway. You would think that the runway would be easy to spot, especially if you are just in the pattern, with all the lights. However, the runway lights are only bright __when approaching the runway. When to the side of the runway, the surrounding lights from the city are much more prominent. You are more or less looking for where there isn’t light.
All in all things went OK. Going forward as a new private pilot, I need to plan for no more then 2 weeks between flights to keep things fresh until I gain more experience. I hope to address this problem in full by starting my instrument training in the fall. This will get me in the air more, as well as force me to refine my piloting skills.