Saturday, January 12, 2008

Night Current Again

Friday, January 11, 2008

My day ended early, ok, my work day. I got a call from a fellow forum member that needed a ride from KLNS - Lancaster, PA. At 2:15 I was ready to head home to pick up my flight bag. I'm not sure why I don't carry it with me, but maybe I should start. The nasty weather conditions finally cleared and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions were now dominating the area. I put together a flight plan for KILG-KLNS with a return to KILG-Wilmington. I made my customary call to 1-800-wx-brief to confirm the info I reviewed, I was good to go.

The flight to KLNS was uneventful. I was turned over to the Lancaster tower from Harrisburg Approach and cleared to land reporting a three mile final. Once on the ground I taxied to Lancaster Avionics for the pick up.

A quick review on the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) and we were ready to head out. The plans changed and we were now headed to KSBY. I topped off before leaving Wilmington so I was good to go on fuel. Upon arrival at Salisbury (like looking for a needle in a haystack, at night) I made three landings to finally get night current again, it felt good. I landed left of center line each time needing to make corrections. I had a hard time trying to see the center line stripe and the night vision was taking some time to dial in. On my last landing I taxied in for the drop off and fuel. I decided to top of the tanks for my ride home.

I asked for a progressive taxi because it was so dark and the taxiway lighting was very poor. To top the poor airfield lighting my landing light was out in the nose so I had to make do with wingtip lights. I taxied out to runway one four and held for traffic. Once cleared for takeoff I headed north to Wilmington. It was really nice checking out all the lights. As I approached Dover AFB I noticed the airbase got a bit blurry. I knew right then I had a cloud layer even if ever so thin between me and mother earth. I still had plenty of lights in view as I continued my trek north. This night ride taught me a few things.

This was an experience all of it's own as I got caught on top. I was heading north east on a 010* heading at 3500'. Looking back I should have requested a lower altitude with Dover but instead climbed to keep clear of what my strobes were now illuminating. I was approved to 5500' and off I went. As I made my way north past Dover I was now in the clear but quickly noticed there were NO lights off the nose, while looking for Wilmington. I was still south of the C&D canal so I was somewhat comfortable. I had been handed off to Philadelphia approach for the last 20 plus miles to KILG.

I canceled flight following with Philly as I approached Delaware City's oil refinery. I had my way out as the refinery lights were peaking through the layer below. I was just north of the canal which is around 15 south of Wilmington Airport. I contacted the Wilmington tower to report my position and was directed to report a 3 mile left base for two seven. Turning final I asked for the lights to be brought up to medium intensity and set 679er down on center but firm. Four night landings in the book and almost two hours of night flight, not to shabby. Total time for the trip 3.4 hours. As a side note my last night flying was during my training May 2006.

Lessons learned; Better strategy before making the decision to climb, remain night current and get more night flying time.

Positives; Keep flying the plane, always work your plan, know your outs (last known clear position and heading to return, Air Traffic Control (ATC) is there to help)

1 comment:

Zach said...

I'm actually looking forward to flying at night. The temp is a little lower and I love looking at the lights. Reminds me of Blade Runner, a little childhood fantasy.