I haven’t had a grin from ear to ear whilst flying since my first solo. That was until I first departed into the night skies.
I honestly cannot begin to tell you how amazing it is to fly at night. Flying by day is amazing as it is, but flying by night is even better. It’s a totally different experience. The darkness is eerie, but the warm lights below are friendly and inviting. Perspectives change, its easy to fall under the impression that a city 10 miles away is only 2 miles away. You can be flying towards a large urban area when suddenly, a cloud appears ahead, making this urban area fade and disappear. Although really cool, flying by night is also potentially more dangerous than by day. I was aware of this, perhaps that’s what makes It more exciting. Personally, its the views, lit up areas surrounded by darkness, clouds by night and the dark expanse above, its absolutely ace.
I started Tuesday evening just gone, after work and completed it on the Thursday evening. It doesn’t take long at all, only 5 hours or so. It takes a few circuits to become use to an approach and landing using PAPI’s or VASI’s which we use. Once you get used to them however, its not too bad at all. One thing that I thought was extremely cool was on my night navigation flight. I and the Instructor flew up past York to Malton. Near Malton, we began to ascend to see the affect of a cloud covering the view ahead (Malton), as we ascended, I looked out of my window over the left wing. At this point I briefly began to think I was having a funny turn. Surrounding the wing every second, were hundreds of green dots which would appear and disappear. I soon realised this wasn’t a funny turn, but the effect of the Navigation and strobes as I had read in my ATPL studies. The light was actually reflecting off the Ice crystals in the sky close to cloud. I found this insane, really interesting. We turned the stone and nav lights off temporarily and funnily enough, the illusion stopped. We then descended back to warmer air and headed back for Sherburn, where I began practicing circuits by night.
I can’t wait for my Night Rating to come back from the CAA. Hopefully, I will be able to take OC up by night and fly her about a bit. As I said, it’s a completely different form of flying all together and I absolutely love it.
Until next time, Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!