Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Maneuvers and Landings

A 5:30 lesson on tap for today! I listen to the AWOS for N99, the "unofficial" until approved by the FAA. Winds 180-220 at 3 to 5 kts and ceilings 3700 bkn. I decide to proceed south towards ILG to simulate a flight plan to lower Delaware. The haze is very thick and the horizon is hard to distinguish. I dial in DQO VOR, ID it and set a heading for direct TO. After leveling off at 2500 I turn to the west for the southern practice area. I can't see 40N or anything else very clear. There is helicopter traffic running parallel east to west with me a few miles north of my track and about 1600 feet. As he turns south west I check right and turn north west. Clearing the the area I decide to practice some slow flight to include level flight at 50 kts followed by turns, climbs and descents. I clean up and then set up for some steep bank turns. Ok trying to find a reference point out there and visibility stinks. I bug my heading clear left and bank to 45* with three quick swipes of nose up trim. Rolling out on target I decide that I can not see far enough to feel safe since I am not far from MXE VOR and south of 40N.

I dial in the Modena VOR and track my way back, picking up my two water towers as my reference I call a 4 mile 45* for left downwind 27...........and CRAP I forgot from the south west. I am about to enter the downwind and an aircraft calls out crosswind 27. I again announce my position as entering the left downwind 27 and the low wing aircraft acknowledges they have the traffic (which is me!). I flow through the landing checklist, fuel both and on, mixture full rich, landing and taxi lights on, belts and seats secure, good to go. I turn base and final adding a notch of flaps for each leg. Now on final and adding some trim for 65 kts I make the runway but land a bit flat(in my opinion). Back taxi and take off for 3 more rounds. The speed is better on landing with only one overall "nice" landing and the others were "ok".

Exactly 1 hour in the book ! I am going to schedule for Saturday if I can, if not, Sunday for sure. I want to get the checkride done next week. Now if I can focus on the oral test prep. I hate to study and read, I do it all day with plans and specifications not to mention all the letter and contract documentation. If I can pull A's in night school I can ace this stuff, well I hope so!

Until the weekend.....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Working out the landing kinks....

Since it was so nice out and I finished up the "list" for the house I decided to go fly for an hour. After my last lesson I decided to work on landings. I checked out 46C and got underway. First sign it was going to be one of those days. I taxi out and the windsock is favoring runway 9. Not really much movement at all but that should be the active. Of course all the traffic is using 27. I figure ok really no wind to really speak of so get in line and move on.

Run up complete and I am off to the hold short. As I complete my final checks I hear traffic on downwind and one entering at a 45 for downwind 27. I am just about set and the plane on downwind says Cessna at hold short we'll slow down if you want to take off. How nice, airborne ATC, ok just being a smart ass, I respond with thanks, we were just rolling out 46C departing 27 Brandywine.

Off I go, giving the windsock a glance as I pass noting a tailwind. Up and on my way climbing out at 80 kts and maintaining noise abatement. Turning crosswind and announcing with a visual on the base turning aircraft everything feels good. I know I heard a call from an aircraft on a 45* to the downwind but no sight of him, yet. As I am about to call my turn to downwind 27 the other aircraft calls his turn, odd still no sight of him. Pattern ALT is 1500 and I check to make sure I am there, I am. I decide to extend my crosswind as I spot the traffic, well below pattern altitude. First off I am a newbie up here so I try to maintain my pattern and entry points, this guys version of a 45* entry is not where it should be ( he needs a geometry class). This aircraft passes under me just out front and proceeds to turn downwind. With a big sigh I understand very well it's like driving on the interstate, I figure deal with it or don't fly. I now feel safe "knowing " where he is. I flow through the landing check list and watch the other aircrafts turn to base and as he turns final and we are abeam each other I begin my extended turn to base. I am looking good for speed toady and really want to focus on shortfield landings. I turn final as I watch the "other" aircraft taxi and follows with a call clear of the active. I add last notch of flaps, pull the power and make for the numbers. I feel the push now of that tailwind as I slowly descend to the runway. So much for the shortfield, I float on by my (shortfield) target point and finally set it down, now needing to back taxi.

The next few rounds go pretty much the same way with traffic still on 27 and a slight tailwind. I put 3 landings in the book, not that I am happy, but I needed to get myself squared away.

A final note that wraps up my flight today. As I am back taxing I hear a guy call out on the radio for a plane that is turning final on 27 that there is a plane "landing on runway 9" Well I about pucker knowing very well that he will be up my six in a blink. I speed up the back taxi and call clear of runway 27. The aircraft calls short final and I watch him land since I have stopped, went through my after landing checks and am moving towards the tie down area. There NEVER was an aircraft landing on runway 9, the guy in the Cub coming from the T-Hangars saw me back taxi and must have just turned on his radio. Thanks for the near heart attack buddy......Am I tied down yet?

I am sso close to my checkride I don't want to screw up my landings now. I was scheduled for Tuesday night but I have a baseball game so maybe Wednesday. I want to run through my checkride maneuvers again then get the oral test prep finished.

It will day soon!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Best of Lessons and the Worst of Lessons....


Wx for this review/mock checkride was not looking good. I got to the school early and finished up my preflight as my CFI walked toward the plane. We discussed the review and I made way for the run up area. I was instructed to depart Brandywine for Norfolk at 3000'. I climbed out on crosswind and bugged for 190*. I ID'ed the DQO VOR and direct TO was also 190*. I was on course and climbing to altitude. With the nod of approval I am instructed to head out for maneuvers. I turn out west which will put me south of 40N Chester county airport.

First up is slow flight, having flow each maneuver countless number of times in my head I try not to think but to let things flow, afterall I AM the PIC. Ok here we go, first up a 90* clearing turn in each direction, area clear. Holding heading (over farms) I slow to 1500 rpm, hold nose level and bleed of speed at 95kts I add the first notch of flaps followed by the second at 85 kts and third at 80kts. Adding a touch of power to hold us at altitude 3000 I begin a series of turns, along with straight and level. Once straight and level my CFI asks for a power off stall, checking alt and my area for traffic I set up for straight and level then power off and nose level. Increasing back pressure stall horn starting more back pressure and there she goes! Yoke forward, holding below horizon, full power, rudder if needed to correct a start of a spin. Gaining speed, taking out first 10* of flaps, hand back on throttle, gaining airspeed taking out second notch of flaps followed by the same transfer of right hand throttle to flaps and we are all cleaned up and straight and level.

Next up power on stalls. This is to simulate a sneaky departure stall. Ok power back to 1500, slowing to 70 kts then nose up while increasing power to 90% and adding right rudder to keep coordinated. Adding back pressure and she breaks, a quick yoke forward just below the horizon holding to gain airspeed, rudder if needed to correct the start of a spin followed with a gentle nose up to straight and level.

Next up steep bank turns. Keeping my course over the less populated areas while performing maneuvers is always the correct procedure. I check my location set up by picking a reference point and setting the heading bug. This roll out needs to be +- 5* . When I am ready and after clear left, I bank to 45* quickly adding 3 swipes of nose up trim and make a nice left steep bank turn rolling out on course. Now time for the right, I set myself up and bank right 45* with the 3 swipes of trim I am still loosing alt.......I tend to not hold enough back pressure while leaning forward to look out to my right, something I need to work on. I roll out abut 10 degree's past and I am 100' low. Not happy because that would be a bust so I am instructed to ask if I can perform that maneuver again since I did not do well, I know the Examiner does not owe me that, I just hope he gives me that second shot. Off I go for round two, adding a bit more trim I hold altitude well and roll out on target.

My CFI wants me to do a shortfield landing at Chester County. I align myself for a 45* entry for downwind runway 29 and make the appropriate calls. I can't remember if he pulled the power here or not, I think so. I trimmed for best cruise, naturally went for runway 29, tried restart procedures then simulated a call to traffic at 40N. I made the field and just about wheels down he said go around. Full throttle off we go working to hold 60kts with all that trim in. I actually took out the first notch of flaps to soon so that was a bad thing held on to my climb and cleared obstacles then removed the next two notches of flaps as my airspeed increased.

Time to head for home! My CFI instructed me to head to MXE VOR direct on a 270 radial. I climb to altitude and know that I left 40N on runway 29 so MXE is behind me to the east. I correct the reverse sensing and note I need a "TO" heading as I dial in the 90 degree heading.

Engine out time, my CFI pulls the power. I'm at 2800' not able to make 40N. run through all the engine out procedures and pick a clearing I actually saw at my 5 o' cock that we just flew past. I banked right to set up a base entry for the field while trying the restart procedures. I simulate a mayday call with call, problem and location. turning final for the field I add flaps and work my way in adding second notch of flaps. I am instructed to go around and head for home.

Climbing out and getting back on course I eventually see my reference points to enter at a 45* to Brandywine. I announce my 45 entry for downwind 27 4 miles from the south west. Yeah! I finally remembered to give my direction. As I call out the downwind entry and go through my checklists my CFI pulls the power again! I flow through the ABC's routine and cut the downwind short turning base then final adding flaps I am way high, not good, would have overshot. I am instructed to go around. I am frustrated that I blew that, that could have been my checkride and I would have failed. To make matters worse I go around again early with the first notch of flaps. Grrrr......starting to get ticked that I am coming apart. I turn crosswind and downwind on target, running through my landing checklist. I am about 70 kts looking good as I turn base to final then I don't pull the power soon enough and am high and fast. I add the last notch of flaps and slip when my CFI says the dreaded my plane. Ughhh, my heart sinks I could really scream (an obscenity I am sure) and he crabs this baby right to the ground turns parallel at the last moment and lands us. This is the first landing in my 230 plus landings that my CFI took control. I didn't say a word, I was to ticked. I back taxied us to clear of the active and went through my after landing procedures. As I taxied back to the tie down he said lets talk about what was wrong with that landing. I thought to myself nothing you aced it ! I wish I could do that! We talked about my pattern and it was fine, where I went wrong was not pulling the power sooner and that's what got me in trouble. My CFI said I know you can do it and land it, there was no reason to run up lesson time and the co$t. I agree but "I" wanted to correct what I did I didn't care about the cost.

I really need some practice time alone in the plane. I know it will help my confidence. I am going to try and schedule Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. I hope next week I will be ready for my checkride. I will continue to read the oral test prep book with hopes of doing well on that portion of the exam.

Have a safe Memorial day !!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cleaning up the Maneuvers...

MONDAY MAY 22, 2006

Monday finds a 4:00 lesson on the calendar ! Bill and I chat about the checkride, reviewing the groundschool/oral test prep and a mock checkride. I am feeling pretty good today as I complete the preflight and run up. Bill asks for a shortfield takeoff so at the hold short I run through my last checks and add a notch of flaps. He also instructs me to climb to 3000 feet and proceed to my first checkpoint as if heading towards KSBY. Ok, I am armed with my headset, logbook a mini flashlight in my headset bag and my checklist. Feeling unprepared and not sure it was intended that way but that's how I felt, I simply tuned in the DQO VOR at 114.00 ID'ed it and set my heading to south which I had set up on my CDI. Bill asked what the airspace was and limits. I responded the outer ring of the class Bravo for PHL is 4000 feet, We will be well clear at 3000 and as we make our first checkpoint KILG we will be clear of the class Bravo. Heheheh......I was ready. Once in sight of our checkpoint he asked me to proceed in a safe direction to perform maneuvers. I picked the southern practice area located southwest of 40N Chester County. First maneuver he asked for was slow flight. Here comes the brain fart! I check left and right but did not perform a clearing turn. My CFI made mention of the shortest checkride or something to that effect. Yikes, I said lets do a clearing turn here and I went 90* left and then right, NOW I was ready.

Slow flight was first with power set to 1500 rpm I slowly added flaps and was on my way at 50 kts. increasing to 2000 rpm to hold both of us up there,I performed a 90* turn each direction and then was asked to show an approach stall. With wings level I slowly rotated the nose up, holding off for the stall followed by the nose down, full power holding it just under the horizon. I moved my right hand back and forth from throttle to flaps as I gained speed and held my starting point altitude. Next on the list was steep turns. Mind you it was windy and bumpy today and I felt like I was chasing the plane to hold a steady ALT. Ok, 3200 a point of reference on the horizon I begin banking 45*. I glance in and I am about 100 feet low and climbing back as I roll out to my point. Bill said here is something that will help me with my steep bank turns. He states his plane and I confirm. He sets up like I did banks 45* then adds three swipes of nose up trim.........He shows me hands off and there we are turning ever so sweet without all that work. Hmmm......ok my plane and my turn. I try left and right steep banks with very nice results.

Time to head for home!! I tune in the MXE VOR and track home, turning to enter on a 45* for downwind 27. Bill acknowledges great call but how do they know where you are. I'm thinking, what did I miss, so I run it by out loud without pressing the button. "Brandywine traffic, Cessna 2746C 4.5 miles entering on 45 for runway 27 downwind , Brandywine traffic"....ok what did I miss? I missed the direction as in from the South West. I make a mental note of that.

On final my CFI asks for a softfield landing. I hear him and continue on, thinking shortfield? softfield......what did I hear? He reminds me that we need speed, he asked for SOFT field. Heck I am just fighting the crosswind and slipping my way in. Lined up nice using more hands and feet then I think I own with throttle control banking right and left rudder. Over the numbers pulling power and nose up with the stall horn moaning.......yeah nice! I hold the nose off but not long enough so my CFIl reminds me to get that nose wheel up there.

Time for the paper work and a follow up discussion. My CFI suggests a bit of practice by myself for a confidence boost and make some cue cards with the steps for each maneuver.Bill said its best to call them out as I run through each step that way it will become second nature to me. I liked the tip so I will type up a sheet for my practice flight.

Scheduled for Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday. I get canceled due to winds today on a perfect looking day, Mr. President is in town Wednesday late afternoon early evening so that trashes tomorrow night after work and I'm back up with Bill on Thursday so he can see how my practice has paid armchair flying has paid off.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Test Prep....Spin Recovery

After reviewing my log book my CFI and I find no spin recovery training. Odd that we missed that but what the heck, time to have at it! I complete my preflight and off we go to the practice area. Actually one of two practice areas the flight school works in. Today is the north practice area, north of Rt. 30 and centered around the Marsh Creek area.

We start out with some slow flight leading right into approach stalls and stalls with spins. Nothing wild here just getting the feel for stall recovery first! Followed by rudder correction. Bill has me work that mental list talking my way through each step. Ok, raising the nose and holding , about 1500 rpm, stall horn kicking in........slight moan then a bit more pronounced. Here we ailerons, she breaks, nose down , full power holding it below the horizon, building speed, 65 kts taking out a notch of flaps, hand on throttle, speed looking good, taking out 2nd notch of flaps, nose almost level and removing last notch of flaps.

We continue for a few more rounds with a touch of rudder to simulate the stall break with a tendency to spin. The ride felt really cool, lifting out of the seat a bit then feeling the tummy tickle my tonsils.......yeee hawwwww.......this is cool stuff. In order to correct for the spin I fight the urge to use aileron controls instead keeping them center. The added fast step of opposite rudder after stall recovery has 46C coming right back to level flight.

I did have to work a bit on holding pressure forward so that the added full power did not cause a secondary stall, but overall a good lesson. I think we ended up with a shortfield landing that I did very well on.

Spit and polish time for the next lesson then a mock checkride.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Night Cross Country


Mary and I decided to head to the baseball field so that I could get in a few innings before we would have to head to the airport. After lining the field and getting the game started Mascelli Financial jumped out to a 2-0 lead. That lead was short lived as the visiting team posted 2 runs themselves. By the 4th it was 4-2 us and Mary and I were making a beeline for the truck.

We got to the airport and opened the back of the ML up so we could sit and relax. My CFI showed up and we talked about the wx forecast. SCT 5000 BKN 6500 Vis 10 miles. TAF suggests BKN 7000 by the time we made our intended stop (22N Arner Memorial). With a review of my flight plan complete we head out to pre flight. All systems go Mary climbs in as well as my CFI while I am reaching for my seat belt.

My CFI explains all the information I should provide to my passengers, I make a mental note. I then think of my normal "driving" excursions and the label of being a big meanie for not stopping for potty breaks......sometimes we just have to live with the tags we get......MU HAHAHAH....

We are climbing out as I contact PHL APP for flight following. I have the ETX VOR dialed in and am slowly tracking a radial to get me there. As we pass my Nuke cooling tower checkpoint (without getting a visual) I maintain my heading and note the town of Pottstown. On to ETX as Allentown looms off on our 1 o' clock and reading at my 10 o' clock. As we pass between the towns I get some needle movement to indicate closing in on the station. I hold my heading and watch for the to/from to flip flop. As the from appears I dial in my new heading of 355* for about 14 miles. I also reset my leg timer and watch the time click off. I listen to the Allentown ATIS for wind and direction since Arner memorial lists that for wx info. I attempt to click up the lights and see nothing, now cruising along at 3500 down from 5500. No 22N in sight but I do have Lehighton at my 3 o'clock so I know I am close. I start a turn to my right over my known point ( the town) and click the lights up again. Ahhhhh.....Just under us at 3 o' clock Jake Arner comes to life. Ok in the valley and drifting with the wind towards the far ridge I tighten my turn to slowly get to pattern altitude. I enter on a 45* for the left downwind for runway "6" is no 6/24...that would be 8/26 . My CFI corrects me....I feel like a I enter downwind looking for traffic and announcing my new position. Extending downwind just a bit and adding flaps I start my base turn. With the winds really pushing me I "U" turn it and call out final making use of the slip to get me down and line me up on center. I am maybe a bit level as I touch down and slip my foot a bit high a tap the toe brakes only to hear a short squeal of angry from the right side tire. It happened as fast as an electrical shock and I was off the break just as fast. Ok, maintaining centerline I taxi off and back for our return to N99.

Since I did such a nice job with navigation locating 22N my CFI rewards me with the use of the GPS for our return trip. He said you deserve to enjoy some of the lights and the full moon (now exposed with the cloud layer breaking up). Well alrighty! As I go through my final checks of fuel, trim, flaps and mixture I announce departure on runway 8. Mary takes note of Blue Mtn. to our right and mentiones how easy it is to see it against the night sky while "on the ground" but that from the air you could not tell the difference. She is so right, and with that thought I plan an extended upwind followed by a climbing right turn south so that I am well clear of the "obstruction". I contact Allentown Approach followed by my squawk code confirmation then sit back enjoy the ride and watch all the traffic. Mary commented on how busy the controller is, seemingly non-stop with so many aircraft. I hear 46C called to look for traffic at our 2 o' clock Cessna caravan who is headed into Allentown. A quick response 46C looking for traffic followed by 46C has traffic has us continuibg on our route with the Caravan passing under us. It looked very cool with the strobes flashing away and Mary getting a glimpse of the closing speed. Further along we had traffic passing east to west headed into reading and then pretty much uneventful to N99.

I turned south over the field to re position for a 45* entry for downwind 9. Turning to the downwind then base I didnt correct for the wind and was well left of the runway. Grrrrrrr.....I went around and re-entered on the crosswind leg and got my act together. This time crabbing along and keeping on track. Turning base and continuing on to final with a "U" turn I am online and ALT is good. Adding last notch of flaps and some power to "get me there on center" with the wind, I slip in, on center with just a bit harder landing then I would have liked. My CFI reminds me to keep flying the plane and get me back on centerline. We taxi back for one more round and this time a very nice pattern with crab, followed by a nice landing. My CFI said that was better because I kept my head outside and did not fixate on airspeed. He reminded me how well I fly by the seat of my pants, look at the sight picture and listen to what the aircraft is telling you........more lessons learned.

We are on the ground 2 hours after we left. It's now 11pm. Mary and I are starved, tired (our day starts at 5:30 am) and ready to get home and hit the showers. We both decide we need to hit McD's on the way home but it's now 11:20. As a last ditch effort we find a taco bell open. Oh great 3 tacos a meximelt and one bottle of water later, I get us to the house. A long day and long but fun night.......I'm beat!

I have an hour of test prep left and will schedule a mock checkride this week. Then it's time to meet the examiner and plan the checkride!!!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Test Prep...Me and 46C

FRIDAY MAY 5, 2006

I am off to get some practice/test prep work on another beautiful evening. I arrive at the flight school and pick up the keys and clipboard for 2746C. I complete my pre flight, and climb in for the pre start checklist. I am making a mental note of each detail as I follow the flow of my checks.

46C comes to life and we make ready for our taxi to the run up area. Today's plan is to work on my clearing turns before EACH task, execute the task followed by return to straight and level flight. I work on my turns about a point, S turns and steep bank turns with success. I decide to head for home and knock out a few landings since I thought my night landings were a bit flat or fast. I turn south east and pick up Route 30 bypass and follow that east until I see N99 to my 3 o' clock. I announce my position and follow that with a call that I am over flying the field north to south at 2500 to reposition for a 45* entry to downwind r/w 27. Nice and square with the field looking good searching out where I want to start my turn back towards the field. I see one of the water towers I use as a reference when turning in from the MXE VOR. Well, that's about 6 miles out and that's to far so I turn halfway there and report 3 miles on 45* for downwind 27. Altitude steady I proceed with my landing checklist. Fuel both, fuel on (God, lets hope so), mixture full rich, flaps are indeed up, landing and taxi lights on. Checking the pattern as I announce and enter the downwind for 27. I have the habit of speaking out loud as I call out my clear right or left, so much so the Bride calls out clear right when we are driving. On downwind abeam the threshold I throttle back to 1500 rpm, nose up, add 10* flaps, settle and add a touch of nose up trim. Checking my rpm's I check the pattern and give a long look on final for anything that may be coming in un-announced. All clear, I announce and turn base followed by adding a second notch of flaps. Looking good, I double check final by rocking that wing up for a good look then call final as I turn for home. A little float then flat followed by a short roll out to taxi clear. I make 2 more rounds each time a bit more of the picture I want with stall horn moaning away as I touch down.

I taxi in after three landings and put 46C to bed. I am really feeling good and the confidence is there, I am excited about taking the checkride. Excited? I think about the kids on the baseball team and relate........I always say that the really young kids that are hitting well is due to two reasons, 1 - they have some good mechanics and 2, they don't know they should be scared $*#@ less facing 12 yr olds that throw as hard as they do. So you see, I relate, I guess my excitement distracts me from understanding I should be "browning out" as it was so nicely stated on one of the forums.

This week my last night flight then a mock checkride and oral exam prep. THEN IT'S CHECKRIDE TIME !!!!!! I hope to be able to fly to Wilkes-Barre this memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Night Flight #2 to PNE and N10


Another fantastic night to fly and I'm on the schedule. I called up for my wx brief around 6pm and was happy to only have a short conversation. Short conversation with briefer = a beautiful VFR flight. Flight bag in hand a smooch from the bride and I was headed to N99. My CFI was early and we were able to get started right away. We reviewed my flight plan, I broke it down detail by detail with explanation and noted the 10% increase to the climb out info due to temps. Tonight's plan was to depart N99, direct to PNE (Northeast Philadelphia) for a stop and go then on to locate and land at N10 (Perkiomen Valley).

On departure from N99 I contacted Philadelphia approach, upon approaches reply I responded with the following info, 2746C, Cessna 172, departing 27 Brandywine, request transition through Bravo with Flight following at 3000, VFR direct Northeast Philadelphia. After a short pause App. Responded with a squawk code the altitude I requested and ALT setting. COOL!! I was on my way! I passed the large towers south of Wings (KLOM) and reported having northeast in sight to Phl App. They cut me loose to squawk VFR and I thanked them for their help this evening. With a flip of the switch I contacted Northeast tower and reported my position, that I have current info and my intentions for a stop and go. I was directed to report entry to downwind for runway 33. Completed the landing checklist I am now advised clear to land r/w 33. I acknowledge clearance and prepare for my base turn. I catch a good look at the Delaware river as I check right then left for my turn. Adding a second notch of flaps with everything looking good I make my turn to final and add the last notch of flaps on short final. Sure is dark out here and I am trying to scan so I don't get that blackhole effect. Over the numbers and looking good I touchdown with solid chirps and come to a stop. My quick take off check, fuel, flaps, mixture and full power. Off we go headed for N10 Perk.

I contact Phl App and get flight following to N10. I pass those towers again(they are well off my left wing) and I start my look for Wings (LOM) which is my checkpoint. I see Wings at my 9 o' clock and only wish I was flying in there for the Wings BBQ on May 20th. Back to keeping on course I dial in MXE 45* From radial to give me a cross check point for the "ballpark" location of N10. Sure enough, with the needle movement and my leg times I click up the lights and there it is at my 1 o' clock. I head south to set up for a turn back in for a 45* entry to downwind runway 27. I think I screwed up my call in to Perkiomen traffic with a west location instead of the south south west. Anyway, checking left and right for any traffic I turn to enter the downwind. landing checklists complete I continue through the pattern and turn final with a lot of dark out there. Keeping in mind the power lines (which I didn't see = darkness) and the trees which I can make out the outline of I remain just high of glideslope. Runway made I pull the power, flair and touchdown with a short roll out. This is narrow, dark and am I glad I'm back taxing for take off.

Underway for home and climbing out I can't help but notice I am sharing the night sky with all the big boys headed into PHL. You can count them, they are lined up for miles. I am set up for a direct to MXE VOR and track very nicely. With the beacon in sight I announce my position as I cross over Brandywine and position for the 45* for downwind 27. Checking for traffic I enter the downwind with checklists already completed. My spacing looks good and I call out my turn to base and final with a nice landing. My CFI says full power one more round and off we go. Again scanning to see I'm clear all obstacles and checking the instruments for climb out. I turn to the heading for noise abatement and reach 1200 as I turn cross wind. With a check for traffic to my left and a quick scan for any 45* entry's to the downwind I make my call and turn. A landing procedure check and I'm ready to bring her in. Turning base then final I set 46C down with a heavy chirp and then right rudder to get me on center. Calling down and clear I taxi back and tie down. It was a great flight, I was complimented on my navigation and calm.

I am up again Friday for some landings and practice are maneuvers did ask my CFI if the Bride can come along for the Night Cross Country and he said sure, it will be nice to have her along. Woooo Hoooo.....she will love that !!

First Night Flight...

TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2006

Ok, I guess the title should read first single engine night flight. It had a different feeling walking into the flight school at night, the airport was quiet and hardly any activity. I went through the usual paperwork and was handed the clipboard and keys to 2746C. I went out to preflight with flashlight in hand and was joined by my instructor. When the preflight was complete we saddled up and went over some of the keys to a safe night flight. We discussed the keys to a safe departure, the use of lights and the effect on other aircraft. My CFI reminded me that once airborne the horizon looks black or blends together and I will need to get on instruments and scan out to the sides of the aircraft until clear of obstacles. We also discussed lighting, black holes, emergency procedures and places to land.

Start up complete, checklist complete, I flip on the taxi light and head to the run up area. It sure looks different and the wing tip clearances now concern me even thought I am on center line. It's just a night thing and my typical Mr. Conservative. Run up complete, I taxi to the hold short for "my" final checks, fuel both, fuel on, trim set for take off, mixture full rich, flaps up. Ok a quick call to announce intentions.....Brandywine traffic Cessna 2746C departing 27, Brandywine. I hit the strobes and taxi into position. We're off, maintaining runway heading and then noise abatement. WOW! There are lights everywhere! I locate Route 30 and make my way to follow that to 40N (Chester County). I offered to go direct MXE then turn to follow the 301* radial for 9.7 miles but my CFI rather pilotage. I guess it didn't really matter to me since I was like a sponge soaking it ALL in. At 2500 feet tooling along I see Exton to my right, Coatesville off in the distance and west Chester at my 7 o' clock. Final y I see the beacon for 40N while I continue on along Rt. 30. I then turn south and announce Chester County Traffic, Cessna 2746C will be over flying the field North to South at 2500 to reposition for a 45* entry to downwind r/w 29 Chester county. I click up the lights and just like that there it is, pretty as could be. I continue out and turn to my right followed by the downwind entry to 29. I continue to base then final and I am waaaaaay high with no shot at "getting there" unless I fall like a thanks. I call a missed and go around this time getting my act together for a real nice landing. Clear the runway with traffic on final I announce and taxi back, in the dark. I didn't want to have lights in that pilots face so I cut all taxi and landing lights, the strobes were off after I cleared the runway. As we taxi along we discuss what was right and what was wrong with my pattern. I need to relax and do what I know to do, I was late taking out the power and while looking for ground clues I was holding the yoke which had me in level flight longer. Lessons learned, I now was rolling for takeoff. Following noise abatement at 40 N I flow nicely into the pattern. On to base then final I make a very nice landing on each of the next two go rounds.

With landings at 40 N complete I head for home. I dial in the MXE VOR and set up for my 54* outbound radial to N99. Now only 5 miles out I am having a hard time getting a fix on the airport then finally the beacon appears. I can also make out the blinking red light on the highschool in the downwind for 27 and crab for a crosswind to keep my ground track correct. Already through my landing checks I pull the power and add a notch of flaps. Turning base, adding flaps and turning final adding the last notch of flaps I slip my way into N99 for a ok landing that had a short skip. I'm happy to be home, night flight one in the books. I am up again on Thursday.