First Night IFR flight

DrBenny

New Member
The weather was crappy today. Luckily, CFI and I had a night flight scheduled. We filed IFR for safety. For those of you who have been following my progress, this is my 4th IFR flight (as a cross-country PPL student); but this was the only IFR flight that was NOT in IMC.

Here are my conclusions. Do they seem familiar or odd to you?

1) I could see for miles and miles, but I had trouble finding the airport, even though I was tracking the glideslope (FDK ILS 23 appr).

2) My landings were fine. Eerily fine. As I was driving to the airport, I was truly nervous about whether or not I would be able to hold it together at night. I did four landings, including one on an ILS and one on a circle to land. There was even a crosswind. Only one of those landings wasn't that good, the rest were some of my best.

3) Remember that my last flight was the exact same route: BWI-EMI-FDK, and was in hard IMC both ways. Now get this: I felt it was easier navigating in hard IMC than at night. (If it helps to know, I have 1.8 night--tonight's flight--and over 4 hours in actual.)

4) At cruise altitudes, my perception of my altitude was lower than reality. In other words, I was holding 4,000 but it looked like I was at 3,000.

5) I HAD A BLAST!!!! We were vectored over downtown Baltimore and the inner harbor, and I can safely say that the view is much more beautiful at night.

6) I HAD A BLAST!

DrBenny
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
Hey that is cool that you did all that, and it's even better that you liked it. BUT... why are you flying in hard IMC as a private student??? Not that it's bad... just curious.

As for the night flying, the more you get the more natural it gets. It's just like day but without the sun!
 

DrBenny

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Hey that is cool that you did all that, and it's even better that you liked it. BUT... why are you flying in hard IMC as a private student??? Not that it's bad... just curious.

As for the night flying, the more you get the more natural it gets. It's just like day but without the sun!

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks for the comments.

I've flown in IMC three times for a few reasons:

1) One reason is that living in the Balto-Washington area with its recently terrible weather and mounting restrictions means that if we didn't file IFR in the past three weeks, I wouldn't have flown at all.

2) If his students are game, my CFI likes to expose his students to IMC in addition to the basic hood work. This is much more practical preparation for the "inadvertent IMC" level of instrument training required for the PPL.

3) I work out of BWI (class B) and am comfortable with one major aspect of flying IFR--comm with ATC. Especially these days, flying VFR is almost identical to flying IFR, as far as communications and clearances go.

4) CFI knows I'm going on to the instrument rating as soon as possible after the PPL.

I love flying in actual. I don't find the flying part difficult at all. The hard part is the VOR nav, for me. And of course, I haven't practiced any holds or any of the advanced instrument stuff.

I do have a lot of hours for a PPL student. . . . .took me to long to get over the "I can't land a plane" hump.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
I've done a ton of night flying lately (comparitively) as my lessons are after work during the week.

I LOVE flying at night!!

Don't worry right now about having a hard time spotting the airport. Some are easier to spot than others.... some are downright impossible to see unless you're right on top of them... especially when they are surrounded by other lights - like suburbs, or industrial areas, or cities....

BUT - that being said - you'll start to get the hang of it after a while. Just takes practice.... like everything else in aviation.

As for night landings - my night landings are a LOT better than my day landings. Another reason why I love flying at night.


Good luck!

R2F
 

Brandon

New Member
Finding airports in cities at night isn't usually too bad, just look for the big dark spot! Also, when you are looking at your sectional, look at where the surrounding town(s) are located, and visualize what it will look like flying in and where the airport will be in relation to the lights of the towns. And of course use any navaids at the field, VOR radials etc. to help you out.
Look for the beacon, not runway lights as they are usually only readily visible once you are getting lined up with the runway.
 

H46Bubba

Well-Known Member
Same here. I love flying at night. The cities are lit up and you can spot other a/c easier. I especially love it when there is a full moon out. Of course at work I get to fly in the dark with NVG, which is pretty cool also!
 

flyitup

Well-Known Member
I also really enjoy flying at night. The air is usually smoother, other aircraft are easier to spot, and in the summer the temperature isn't as much of a problem. The only thing I don't like is the idea of an engine failure at night. There just aren't a whole lot of options...
 
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