Did some "night" flying

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rcpilot
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Did some "night" flying

Postby rcpilot » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:06 pm

So yes we can't legally fly at night. When I was training most of our flights were during daylight. A few times we did fly after sundown but still within the allowed time frame. I wanted to get a little practice flying at the end of civil twilight and slightly beyond. The idea being if I should plan poorly and get stuck at the end of or just beyond civil twilight I'd have some idea what to expect. I put some LED lights around my instrument panel since I have all steam gages and they are not lighted. The plane does have strobe, navigation and landing lights. I got my instructor to go up with me. We took off about 20 minutes before sundown. First we headed to ISP, a class C airport, for a touch and go(he decided to give me my monies worth by getting a little class C practice). By then we were probably at or very near the end of civil twilight. Not really bad as I could still see all my instruments(without the lights). I had my Stratux ADS-B running on a Android tablet so it was handy as well as my GPS for navigating to the airport(which was still easy to make out). After that we headed back to my home base, HWV. We took the scenic route so it was getting darker and we put on the LEDs. Still able to see all the instruments and we made our first landing. Took off and did another, experimenting with the LEDs off. Still not very dark. We flew out long the beach and then back to the airport. It's getting darker. Not really night yet but because it was mostly overcast it was darker. Now it was getting hard to see the instruments with the LEDs off. We make another landing and then my instructor turns off the ADS-B and GPS and takes over flying away from the airport. He wants to see me find my way back by dead reckoning. Not too difficult as the lit up airport was easy to pick out from the rest of the ground clutter. A couple more landings and we were done. An interesting experience. Nice to see if I plan poorly and run a little behind it won't be the end of the world. It's also clear night flying does take some practice and it would be best not to tempt fate.

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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby TimTaylor » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:14 pm

Night flying is some of the best flying ever. However, there are a couple significant "watch out's." There are times and situations when you are essentially flying on instruments because you can't tell the ground from the sky. Also, when landing, there is sometimes a "black hole" off the end of the runway that can suck you into the trees. You really have to pay attention to your altimeter and altitude and don't get too low on approach.
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FastEddieB
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:50 am

I’ve spent many wonderful hours flying at night, and many fond memories.

But...

I can not deny that at 68 my night vision is not what it once was.

A few years back I got “caught out” by a setting sun on a trip to S FL and made the choice to land at Melbourne, where we have friends who could pick us up and put us up for the night. From over I-95, I was given a heading and told to enter a left base for RWY5. RWYs 9L and 9R were patently obvious, but beyond them I could see nothing but a sea of blue lights. I had to trust my GPS for where 5 should have been, and thankfully it eventually - and dimly - came into view and I landed without incident. Whew!

It kind of convinced me that night flying might be fading into my past as a practical option. Now, with BasicMed and my properly equipped Sky Arrow, I can legally do it, but doubt I’ll be planning for it on a regular basis.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
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Half Fast
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby Half Fast » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:08 am

Eddie, just curious - do you have runway lights at your new strip? Are you planning to install any?
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FastEddieB
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:24 am

Half Fast wrote:Eddie, just curious - do you have runway lights at your new strip? Are you planning to install any?


No.

And in fact none at my home base of Copperhill, either.

Blairsville is the nearest lighted airport.
Fast Eddie B.

Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA

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Half Fast
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby Half Fast » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:45 am

Hmmm.....

Guess you'd have to make Karen parachute down first to put out road flares to mark out the runway.

(Watched the gang on "Airplane Repo" do that. Never did understand why if there was enough light for a skydiver to make it the plane couldn't, but I guess I shouldn't expect too much from the Discovery channel....)
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MrMorden
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby MrMorden » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:51 am

I only got "caught out" once. I was within civil twilight, but probably only by a minute or two on landing, and it was winter and overcast. I did have another private pilot with me, so while he would be legal to fly at night, he had no CT time.

Because of the timing and the overcast, it was quite dark; I needed to turn on the instrument lighting and I needed the landing light to judge height above the runway. It was dark enough I couldn't really see the tall trees at the approach end of the runway, so I used the PAPI lights to stay on a safe glide path. I actually made a good landing and it was fine, but flying when it's dark is really a different experience.

I wish the FAA would allow Sport Pilots to get an endorsement for night flight in properly equipped aircraft. I'd like the option of flying after dark occasionally.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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FastEddieB
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:45 pm

Half Fast wrote:Hmmm.....

Guess you'd have to make Karen parachute down first to put out road flares to mark out the runway.



Conveniently, we were at the hangar when I read Karen your post.

She’s game!

Image

We were going to try it first at Copperhill this afternoon, but it was too overcast.

Maybe tomorrow. :wink:
Fast Eddie B.

Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA

FastEddieB@mac.com

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drseti
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Re: Did some "night" flying

Postby drseti » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:22 pm

Don't forget, folks - regardless of your class of pilot certificate and medical status, and regardless of the lights that may be installed on your aircraft, an SLSA can only be flown at night if the manufacturer so authorizes in the aircraft's Operating Limitations.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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