My Flight Journal

Saturday, September 27, 2003 9:48pm

Logged my first official night flight tonight. I've decided the worst thing about night flying is the mosquitoes. Holy crap. I usually like to take my time pre-flighting the airplane. Now I look like I have the chicken pox.

We took off from Sanford and headed north to DeLand (DED), where I made a full stop landing. Landing at night is a little bit different than in the daylight. But I did really well. From there, we headed out towards Leesburg (LEE), but turned back south just before reaching the field. Next we headed for this little podunk strip named Orlando Country (X04) on the shore of Lake Apopka. Their beacon broke two years ago and they haven't quite gotten around to fixing it yet. That place is VERY hard to spot at night. They only have runway edge lighting (no taxiways or lit ramp areas), and about every third one of those is burned out. On top of that, they're very dim and you can only see certain ones from certain angles. So at any particular point, you might be able see every other light. It gives the impression that there's only about 5 or 6 lights down the entire length of the runway. My instructor took over to fly an approach into there - which involves flying out over the lake, a HUGE black hole in the earth at night. To make it a little more difficult, that strip doesn't have any end lights either - so you can't really tell where it begins or ends. We ended up way friggin high and aborted it.

From there, we got clearance to enter Orlando's class B airspace and overfly downtown. VERY cool. Orlando Executive airport (ORL) is right there, and we got clearance for a touch and go. My instructor said he'd take over so I could look around at all the lights downtown. He set us up for the approach and gave it back to me on short final. We were still at 800ft and almost 100kts. There was no way I could get that 172 down with enough runway left over to make me happy. Though I did try. At about 100ft and already more than half way down the runway I gave it the gas and headed out of there.

We asked the controller for an ILS approach back into Sanford and I flew the whole thing. Wow is that fun. There's a whole lot of things going on at once. I forced myself to not look out the window and just fly the needles. My instructor made me take it all the way down to minimums before he let me look up - which was about 200ft. I was pretty damn close to the centerline. And it wasn't until that point that I noticed we had a pretty good crosswind from the south. My landing - in a crosswind, at night, after having been sweating out an ILS approach - was as good or better than any of my daylight landings. I think working on my instrument ticket is going to be fun.

I guess I'll get around to soloing next weekend maybe.

Back      (21)      Next

  1. In the beginning   (pages 1 - 5)   6. Hurricane Season Begins   (pages 42 - 47)
  2. Pre-Solo   (pages 6 - 21)   7. Hurricane Season Ends   (pages 48 - 54)
  3. First Solo!   (pages 22 - 26)   8. Solo Cross-Countries   (pages 55 - 58)
  4. First Night XC   (pages 27 - 32)   9. Checkride!   (page 59)
  5. Longest Flight Yet   (pages 33 - 41)  
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