Mike B and I traded emails and a few phone calls earlier today to confirm a flight for tonight. I needed to knock out three take-off and landings to restart the clock on night currency, Mike wanted to knock out some approaches. The FAA states that in order to carry passengers at night, I need to have completed three take offs and landings to a full stop, one hour after sunset within the last ninety days. I would also like to shoot an approach or two.
We met at the plane around 11am and got 08Romeo plugged in for the four hours worth of pre-heat. I noted the outside temps and decided to add a moving blanket to cover the top cowling with the hope of retaining some additional heat. This is the first year taking advantage of the Reiff pre-heater system so I am still tracing the learning curve. With 08Romeo squared away we decided to head out in search of lunch. Mike suggested Cheeseburger in Paradise and off we went. I was on my lunch break so it would have to be somewhat of a quick turn around...
I headed back to work and did the paperwork shuffle, working on contracts and putting out fires, after all, that's what project managers do. Yikes, enough work talk, back to the flying stuff. I closed up shop and headed out the door a bit past my normal 3:30 but it was only a ten minute drive to the plane from the office. Mike was already at the plane and had 08Romeo uncovered. I sumped the fuel while Mike did the pre-flight, everything looked good.
Mike had wanted to work on right seat approaches and landings talking through his lesson planning as we went along. I was left seat working the communications as we taxied out to runway two seven. Once cleared for take off 08Romeo climbed out taking advantage of the cold air and showing us one thousand feet a minute. Left turn on course and looking into the haze over New Jersey as we point towards Millville- KMIV. I switched over to Millville Radio and made my call to advise inbound and shooting a practice ILS approach. Anyone who follows this blog knows of my "love affair" with Millville radio....Grumble...Grrrr...it was like tearing a scab off a fresh healed cut. Yes, it's the exact same sharp quick pain.
I listened as Mike went through his lesson plan, explaining each maneuver, corrective action and what to look for as we were into the approach. I did my safety pilot thing looking for traffic and working the comms. We were above the glide as Mike made corrections. Geezzz verbalizing the lesson plan and shooting the approach, reminded me of rubbing your tummy, patting your head, chewing gum, walking and talking all at once. Needless to say I'm not there yet but it's nice to see Mike flow through the workload and still make a nice approach, always something for me to learn. I announce short final as instructed and Mike sets us down for round one. We taxi back and launch for another approach this time the RNAV GPS 28. Mike was on the money making it look easy as round two is complete. Once again we launch and this time it's back on the ILS RWY 10.
I get to fly us home so we transfer controls once clear of the airport environment. I load the RNAV GPS 27 approach into Wilmington but do not activate it at this point. I call up Philly approach and advise of my position, altitude and intentions for the practice approach. I was given direct woodstown (OOD)at three thousand feet, expect the GPS 27 approach. I can now activate the approach and continue my track to Woodstown. I reviewed the plate and made the mental notes of each fix and corresponding altitude along with steps for the missed. We were crossing OOD at three thousand, turning north west on course to KAHOE and descending to two point one. I was needles center the whole way and feeling ahead of the plane.
I was now on short final and the my monster of night time landings was raging inside me. I was secretly praying the new light would really help me see. Mike sensed the tension and kept walking me through it. Over the threshold now and Mike instructs "keep pointing the nose down for the numbers". I am, well at least I think I am. OK, time out here to explain me getting the plane on the runway, at night. Remember back to your childhood days and your first dip in the ocean, lake, pool and you know that water was cold so you kind of made your way seemingly one toe at a time? Well that's how I felt getting the mains on the ground. I flared to early lost my sight picture, felt like I was falling to the runway and added a touch of power to arrest the sinking feeling. Just like the old Batman TV show I saw a "BLAM", "POW" light up in my minds eye! We were on the ground, yep, still in one piece.
Round two I am off and climbing for a right hand pattern, great I don't like night flying, er um landings as it is and now I'll have to look a bit harder. Reporting midfield down wind as instructed I am cleared for landing number two. I am anxious and round off the pattern, Mike mentions to relax, take my time, don't rush. He's right, I settle in and get 08Romeo squared away. Nice smooth stable approach on final and I see the LED light is much brighter. I don't look so far down the runway but stay at the end of the new really white landing light limit and flare. Holding it off and setting down with a tad bit of side load. Round three was better and I am feeling comfortable with the new light and my night work. I just need to keep at it more often.